Finnish energy technology leader Wärtsilä will supply two sizeable multi-fuel-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 600MW for Mexico’s state-owned utility company CFE. The two contracts are valued at €480 million (US$544.8 million) and will be executed by Wärtsilä on a full engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis.
Taken together, the power plants represent the single largest EPC contract for power producing capacity in the history of the Finnish company. Included in the contract is a 400MW project in Mexicali Oriente, Baja California, as well as a 200MW power plant in Sonora. The power plants are scheduled to be constructed and commissioned in various phases during 2022 and 2023.
The projects consist a 400MW facility, the Mexicali Oriente power plant located in Mexico’s Baja California state and the Parque Industrial plant, a 200MW generating unit located in Sonora. Mexicali Oriente consists of 24 of Wärtsilä’s 50DF dual-fuel engines, whereas Parque Industrial utilizes 22 Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel engines.
The dual fuels will mainly use natural gas but can run efficiently on liquid fuel by means of back-up. CFE is working to increase its natural gas supply for Baja California, which remains unconnected to Mexico’s nationally integrated power grid. A winter storm in February 2021 disrupted the gas supply, created significant issues for the national system and highlighted the importance of added flexibility in Mexico’s power matrix.
The power plants will be used constantly during the summer months, when electricity demand is at its highest in the two states because temperatures reach as high as 50 °C. During the rest of the year, the power plants are to provide grid balancing services, optimally using the technology’s ability to ramp up or scale down power production at a moment’s notice.
“We are honoured to have been awarded these valuable contracts, jointly the biggest ever for Wärtsilä Energy. It speaks of the value created by our state-of-the-art flexible power generation solutions, which provide a unique combination of energy efficiency, and fuel and operational flexibility, supported by high reliability,” said Sushil Purohit, President, Wärtsilä Energy.
“Wärtsilä’s experience with EPC deliveries, its ability to deliver on a fast-track basis, and the efficiency of the company’s engine technology were key considerations in the contract award,” said Risto Paldanius, Vice President Americas, Wärtsilä Energy. “The power plants will serve the local needs today, and they will adapt to future needs,” he added.
To date, Wärtsilä has delivered over 500 MW of power plant capacity in Mexico, of which 380 MW are currently covered by Wärtsilä long-term service agreements. The company has solid experience developing flexible power generation capacity, which becomes increasingly important as more intermittent renewable energy resources are incorporated in the grid. Flexible power plants that can efficiently run as both a base load and respond to balance the grid are increasingly valuable and offer the added advantage of a relatively low cost compared to other technologies.