The development of a more sustainable energy infrastructure is driven by climate policies, energy security, and economics. Carbon-intensive energy sources are being replaced by low carbon fuels, such as natural gas and renewable solutions. Energy savings and efficiency improvements are encouraged, and even legally enforced, at every level. This development is evident on a global scale, even though short-term actions can vary in different regions.
In line with its commitment to sustainability and responsible business conduct, Wärtsilä has taken an active role in the development of markets and solutions, advising national decision makers on changes in the power markets, and on relevant technical and commercial norms. In this way, Wärtsilä helps speed the transition to more sustainable power systems. Wärtsilä strives to maintain a deep understanding of market requirements, and to develop its solutions in a way that enables them to contribute effectively to improved energy system performance in the various regions of the world.
Wärtsilä's solutions for the energy industry offer a unique combination of flexibility, high efficiency, and low emissions. Many different fuels, including bio-fuels, can be used efficiently, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Wärtsilä's Smart Power Generation technology enables the development of a reliable energy infrastructure, wherein most of the sustainable characteristics are already known. Moreover, integrating more wind and solar energy with flexible back-up capacity has great potential for reducing carbon emissions.
Towards sustainable power systems
The effects of climate change require a dramatic decrease in coal based power generation and a major increase in low carbon power generation, including wind, solar, and natural gas fired plants. In modern power systems, the majority of electricity will be generated by wind and solar power, while thermal power generation will be increasingly used for system balancing and back-up. The variability of renewable energy generation requires the balancing and back-up power to be flexible and dynamic. Current and earlier power systems were not designed for this purpose, and in order to meet the required capacity, new flexible power generation assets need to be added to the system. Such flexible capacity is based on three elements: operational flexibility, energy efficiency, and fuel flexibility.
Operational flexibility is needed for reacting to the rapid changes in wind and solar output. Power plant requirements include the following capabilities:
- Frequent and fast starts and stops without negative wear and tear consequences
- Cyclic operation with high up and down ramp rates
- High full and part load efficiency
- A broad load range
- Minimal CO2 emissions.
Energy efficiency means that less fuel is needed to generate electricity. Lower fuel consumption results in lower CO2 levels in power generation.
Fuel flexibility enables the transition to more sustainable fuels when they become available. This feature becomes increasingly important when investing in new power capacity, because the plant is not fixed to any particular fuel where more sustainable fuels may be available in the future.
These three elements form the cornerstones of the Smart Power Generation technology. It enables the maximal utilisation of valuable renewable power, the smooth operation of inelastic base load thermal power plant and, according to the results from future power system modelling, enables dramatic reductions in system level CO2 emissions.
- Wärtsilä's Smart Power Generation power plants allows true operational optimisation of the entire energy system in a cost-efficient, reliable, and sustainable way, and:
- Enables extremely low carbon emissions from the total system
- Enables the highest penetration of wind and solar power capacity without related balancing problems
- Enables baseload plants to operate with high output and efficiency, thereby lowering CO2 levels
- Minimises wind curtailment and helps to avoid negative prices
- Reduces the amount of spinning reserve
- Enables the efficient use of bio gas- and liquid bio-fuel resources.
- Allows the entire system to operate in the most cost effective way:
- Removes the abusive cyclic load from plants that are not designed for it, enabling them to operate in their most cost-effective way
- High efficiency over a wide load range enables flexible power plants to operate in the most cost effective way.
- Ensures system reliability, even during extreme conditions, such as wind variations and contingency situations.
- Enables decentralisation of the intermediate and peak load capacity:
- Flexible plant sizing facilitates later expansions to match local needs
- Installing generation capacity in load pockets reduces grid losses and helps to avoid investments in new high voltage grid expansions
- Fast track delivery enables local capacity deficits to be rapidly overcome.