Population boom drives power demand in Texas

By Jack Burke02 February 2023

Central region of state grew 30% between 2010 and 2020

Wärtsilä will supply the generating equipment for a new approximately 190 MW power plant to be built in Texas, USA.

The order was placed by Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), a river authority based in Austin, Texas providing wholesale power to the Texas power grid. 

The company said central Texas is experiencing rapid economic growth with a number of blue-chip companies moving into the area, along with a 30% increase in population between 2010 and 2020. This and similar growth in other areas of the state has created the need for additional generating capacity to meet the state’s growing need for power.

A new power plant in central Texas will operate with 10 Wärtsilä 50SG engines running on natural gas. (Image: Wärtsilä)

The project will be a peaker power plant capable of starting and stopping rapidly to provide dispatchable power to increase reliability and provide power to balance the grid when renewable and other generational resources are not available or are insufficient to meet the needs of Texans.

“This new dispatchable peaker power plant with Wärtsilä technology will support the Texas power grid within minutes,” said Randa Stephenson, LCRA chief commercial officer. “We sometimes need more power that can be available quickly, depending on market conditions and demand. We believe Wärtsilä’s technology, experience and technical know-how will be a good match with our plans to provide reliable, cost-effective power to our customers and the Texas power grid.’’

“The energy sector is in the midst of a rapid transformation where flexibility is becoming all-important. The situation in Texas reflects very clearly these changes, with sharply rising demand being served by an aging fleet of inflexible power plants. Grid balancing is also needed in order to respond to increasing inputs of energy from renewable sources, and Wärtsilä technology provides this. We congratulate LCRA for having the vision to add further flexible resources to its portfolio,” said Risto Paldanius, Vice President, Americas, Wärtsilä Energy.

The plant will be located in Central Texas and will operate with 10 Wärtsilä 50SG engines running on natural gas. It is expected to become fully operational in 2025. Each Wärtsilä engine consumes little to no water every week, which in Texas, an area often affected by drought, is an important feature.

Wärtsilä has installed over 70 engine power plants in the USA since 1981 and 15 energy storage facilities with a total combined capacity of over 4500 MW.

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