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Wärtsilä's Flexible Power Symposium LATAM and Caribbean Day 2

By Cas Biekmann | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 10:11

With the COP26 summit in Scotland around the corner, integrating renewable energy into the grid with the objective to ward off catastrophic climate change is what is currently dominating the discussion. Because existing grids were not initially constructed to handle the intermittency that comes with renewable energy, countries in Latin America tend to handle the issue differently. Wärtsilä’s Flexible Power Symposium Day 2 outlined some of the success stories and key assets facilitating the energy transition. 


El Tesorito: Key Benefit Toward Colombia’s Grid Reliability

In Colombia, much of the energy matrix relies on hydroelectric power plants. Although this is considered a stable and even flexible source of power generation, Colombia requires additional stability. El Tesorito, a 204.7MW Wärtstilä-engineered gas-fired power plant is optimally positioned to ensure the reliability of the grid.

El Tesorito is currently under development in Colombia's Sahagún zone, and is expected to start operating in March 2022. The project features 11 Wärstilä engines and further benefits for a newly nearby constructed 500kV substation. It received natural gas from the nearby Jobo gas field via a dedicated pipeline, its supply guaranteed under a 20-year supply agreement. The Jobo complex currently processes gas from Canacol’s two largest blocks, making the field one of the fastest growing gas production hubs in the country. What makes El Tesorito so valuable for Colombia’s grid is the ancillary service it delivers, which is also intrinsically linked to its value proposition: the power plant receives a US$15.1/MWh reliability charge over a period charge for 20 years, as a result of winning a 2019 auction.


Immediate Solutions for Power Producers

With foreseeable greenhouse gas reduction mandates in the horizon, power producers are looking for immediate solutions as their PPA’s are set to expire. This is why natural gas cogeneration and AI guided energy storage solutions will allow companies to maximize existing infrastructure, increase efficiency all while providing significant short-term returns.

Once a risky and unfeasible option, cogeneration has emerged as the most sensible solution to power producers and national decarbonization efforts. Previously, the wide adoption of this solution had been inhibited by the known monopolization of LNG supply and an unpaid infrastructure and technology curb. Since then, however, the supply market has become more diverse and with the support of national governments the necessary infrastructure needed for transport has been built, thereby making gaseous fuels a realistic and low risk input fuel. 

“Overall, cogeneration offers a low risk, highly competitive, low carbon project that will be reliable over the next 10 - 15 years with excellent payback” says Carl Dunaway, GM of Projects & Renewables at the Wärtsilä Flexible Power Symposium.


Puerto Rico’s Path to Power System Decarbonization

With only 3 percent of the power being generated by renewables, Puerto Rico is committed to switching to 100 percent carbon neutral power generation by 2050, a “realistic dream,” said Jussi Heikkinen, Director of Growth and Development at Wärtsilä.

Puerto Rico’s plan, which includes two checkpoints (40 percent renewable power in 2025 and 60 percent in 2040), was modeled through PLEXOS Energy Market Simulation Software by the Wärtsilä Latin America team, said Heikkinen during the second day of the company’s Flexible Power Symposium focused on the region. The company specializes in studying and understanding power markets in Latin America and the Caribbean to propose solutions or possible paths to achieve decarbonization, explained Silvia Zumárraga, Market Development Manager at Wärtsilä.


A Virtual Tour Through the Manantiales Behr Thermal Power Plant

Working under a full engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, Finnish energy technology pioneer Wärtsilä has built for Argentina’s YPF Luz company a highly efficient 58MW gas-fired power plant located at the Manantiales Behr oil field.

Executives from YPF Luz and Wärtsilä provided a virtual tour of the fascinating power plant during the latter’s Flexible Power Symposium for Latin America and the Caribbean. The Manantiales Behr Thermal Power Plant has a total capacity of 58MW provided via 5 of Wärtsila’s innovative 19V31SG gas engines, each with a capacity of 11.7MW. This makes it the world’s largest power plant that use these engines.

YPF owns and operates a wind farm in the same area. The thermal plant functions to balance and complement the energy that the wind generates, making it an integrated hybrid power plant. “The company’s mission is to generate energy in a sustainable, efficient and profitable manner,” said Santiago Sajaroff, COO of YPF Luz, adding that “The project is completely in line with this way of thinking.” In its operation, the integrated power plant is the first hybrid power production plant in Argentina, catering to both the public and private sector by combining the best of renewable wind energy and natural gas-fired stability. Eventually, both power plants are to be operated from the same control room. YPF Luz, part of the YPF oil and gas company, was created in 2013 and began operating with a portfolio of 830MW. In 2021, its capacity has grown to 2360MW, with a further 152MW under construction.

Photo by:   Wärtsilä
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst