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First Black-Start Set for China

Posted on October 14, 2005

Wärtsilä Corporation was awarded a contract in August 2005 to supply a black-start generating set to Shanghai Zhadian Gas Turbine Generation Co of China. The 4.3 MW set will be powered by a 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 32 diesel engine. It is due to be handed over in June 2006.

Black-start generating sets provide valuable insurance in the event of a total or partial loss of electricity supplies, in other words in a blackout, throughout a country's transmission system. They provide the necessary electrical supply for starting individual power stations, powering station ancillaries while the main generating plant is prepared for starting.

The origin of the Shanghai Zhadian black-start plant goes back to the USA and Moscow blackouts in August 2003 and May 2005 respectively. Yet not all grids are equipped with black-start generating plants as it adds to capital costs and the risk of a complete blackout is usually deemed acceptably small. However, the North American and Moscow failures led the Chinese government to review its policies and it urged the Chinese electrical authorities to install black-start capabilities. The Shanghai Zhadian installation is the first black-start plant in the Chinese national grids.

A black-start generating plant is in effect an independent auxiliary power plant adjacent to a main power station that has the capability to be started from a complete 'dead' condition within an agreed minimum time. The black-start generating set and its various ancillaries and control systems are started from compressed air and batteries. The systems have sufficient capacity for multiple sequential black starts to allow for a possible tripping of the transmission system during the re-instatement process.

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