Wärtsilä’s next-generation grid balancing solution

By Mike Brezonick10 November 2022

Wärtsilä has launched what it called its next-generation grid balancing technology, designed to provide flexible grid capacity even in adverse weather conditions and enabling renewables to perform as the lowest-cost, most resilient power source for grids worldwide.

The solution is based on three fully integrated key components – the Wärtsilä 31SG Balancer engine generator set, prefabricated modules for cost-efficient plant construction and Wärtsilä Lifecycle support services.

Wärtsilä 31SG Balancer Wärtsilä’s next-generation grid balancing solution incorporates a Wärtsilä 31SG Balancer engine generator set, prefabricated modules for cost-efficient plant construction and Wärtsilä Lifecycle services. (Photo: Wärtsilä)

The Wärtsilä 31SG Balancer engine is a 20-cylinder vee-configuration lean-burn natural gas engine with bore and stroke dimensions of 310 x 430 mm and a total displacement of 65 L. The engine which incorporates two-stage turbocharging, delivers 12,400 kWe at 60 Hz, 8% more power than the standard 31SG.

Wärtsilä said the new engine technology is designed to provide power producers with fast-ramping balancing power, which can be scaled up as the share of renewables in power systems increases. The engine can start and ramp up rapidly to support intermittent renewable generation so that the lowest cost cleanest energy technology can become the dominant power source.

The engine in the Wärtsilä 31SG Balancer solution has been designed especially for U.S. environmental conditions, including adverse weather, to provide the optimal flexible technology and ensure continued running at times of extreme cold, or heat, from -40°C to +45°C (-40°F - +113°F).

“Extreme weather is intensifying – and ‘weatherization’ is now a requirement in states such as Texas,” said Risto Paldanius, vice president, Americas, Wärtsilä Energy. “Through the freezing winter blackouts in Texas last winter and California’s heatwave this summer, renewable plants supported by our engines kept running. Our fast-ramping, agile engines are designed for the climate-changed world utilities now operate in, enabling the greater deployment of renewables in grids around the world.”

The company said the Wärtsilä 31SG Balancer responds to market needs with a cost-efficient plant construction design, based on prefabricated, high-quality power plant modules. It reduces time-to-electricity with 30% less site work than traditional construction methods.

In addition, the system offers fuel flexibility, as it is able to run on natural gas, biogas and hydrogen blends with broad opportunities for future conversions to sustainable fuels, Wärtsilä said.

“The energy transition is picking up speed rapidly around the world, especially in the U.S. where, by 2029, solar and wind could be the cheapest in the world at less than US$5 per MWh,” Paldanius said. “Our latest grid balancing engine is designed to help utilities transform the energy mix of their power plant portfolios, so that the lowest cost technologies, renewables, provide most of the power, most of the time.”

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