Smart power generation

Power at the push of a button.
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Speed matters

Smart Power Generation power plants can start in 30 seconds.

And ramp to full output in less than 5 minutes.

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Matching demand and supply

To keep the lights on in today’s power systems, flexible generation is imperative. Agile capacity is needed, for example, to shave peaks in electricity demand and to fill gaps of wind and solar output.

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1. Operational flexibility

The fast-responging and efficient engines make Smart Power Generation power plants suitable for various tasks:

  • Use for baseload, peaking and load-following generation
  • Back up the intermittent output of wind and solar energy

2. Energy efficiency

The modular design of multiple cascading engines makes Smart Power Generation fuel efficient at any load.

  • Get more energy from the same amount of fuel
  • Save money and cut CO2 emissions

3. Fuel flexibility

Smart Power Generation plants can use any gaseous and liquid fuels, including biofuels. They can even switch from one fuel to another without stopping.

  • Gain fuel security
  • Use the cheapest and the cleanest fuels available
“Growth in Internal Combustion Engine plants actually exceeds that of turbine-based technologies.”
IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2014

Applications

In the old days operating the electric grid was easy. The load curves were stable and predictable. This is now changing fast, which paves the way for fast-reacting capacity.

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Case Ireland

What happened to the baseload?

The “Irish Hedgehog” shows the output for thermal power plants if the target of doubling wind capacity is reached. Wind output is subtracted from demand. The baseload disappears and only sharp peaks are left for power plants.

Source: Power Supply Challenges - book

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Case California

Grabbing the duck by the neck

The ”Duck Chart” shows what happens to the daily load curve of gas power plants in California with increasing solar PV capacity. On a sunny afternoon the duck’s belly deepens and less electricity is needed from power plants. But at dusk they must soar several GW’s in a very short time. To cope with the duck’s neck, extremely flexible generation is needed.

Source: CAISO

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Case UK

Can you trust wind?

The growth of wind power in the UK increases the need for operating reserve dramatically. Reserves are required to ensure a steady flow of electricity even with high shares of wind capacity. The scenario is for the year 2020.

Source: National Grid, Operating the Electricity Transmission Networks in 2020, June 2011, Fig. 26

“Multi-fuel engines provide additional fuel security.”
IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2014

Sources of Flexibility

In addition to quick-starting generation, there are other means to increase the much-needed flexibility in power grids. Their potential appears to be small in comparison, though.

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Super grids

Bird’s-eye view to weather forecast

According to electric highway or super grid theory, excess wind and solar energy can be transported from one country to another according to demand. But satellite data shows that weather systems are often continent-wide. When it is windy in Spain, it is often windy in Germany too. This can be an obstacle for super grids.

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Energy storage

Not quite there yet

To handle 2 GWh of the consumption peaks with stored electricity in California would require about 16,000 containerized battery sets – enough to cover 100 soccer fields. After 10 years the batteries would have to be replaced and handled as toxic waste. The example illustrates the scaling issue of energy storage.

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Demand response

Small fix to a big issue

Shaving peaks in electricity consumption with smart household appliances and other demand response technologies is said to be one solution for the flexibility challenge. However, these solutions seem to be capable of handling only a fraction of the demand peaks.

Source: ERCOT and FERC

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Flexible generation

Who is the fastest?

Smart Power Generation plants can ramp to full power 50 per cent faster than traditional turbine solutions, but the real flexibility challenge is ramping up and down continuously. Due to lower temperatures, internal combustion engine plants are capable of doing even a continuous yo-yo movement without impact on maintenance.

Source: Wärtsilä and Northwest Power and Conservation Council

About us

We have built dozens of gigawatts of flexible Smart Power Generation capacity around the world. In addition, we have years of experience of developing modelling software and methods for analyzing the impact of flexibility in power systems.

The purpose of this website is to share our expertise with others. I hope you enjoy the read and get in touch with your feedback!

Rakesh Sarin
President, Wärtsilä Power Plants
Read the new Power Supply Challenges book via the menu on top left, or download the original Smart Power Generation book (pdf) in English, Chinese or Polish.