Wärtsilä sells first gas engine-battery storage hybrid power plant to utility in US Virgin Islands

Wärtsilä island grid project integrating renewables on Bonaire, a Carribbean Netherlands island territory. Image: Wärtsilä

Marine and power sector energy solutions company Wärtsilä has been contracted to deliver a hybrid solution combining battery energy storage with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and light fuel oil (LFO) engines on the US Virgin Islands.

The company said in a press release that it will be its first such hybrid power plant sale as well as being the first installation for its new LG gas engine units. Utilising 36MW of gas engine generation across four units and 9MW of two-hour duration battery storage (18MWh), the project is scheduled for completion by the Spring of 2022. Wartsila will carry out full engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) duties on the project.

The plant will be used to provide “much needed additional baseload capacity to the island’s electricity supply,” US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority CEO Lawrence Kupfer said, helping to improve the Caribbean island's electricity systems reliability while also lowering overall operating costs and increasing fuel efficiency.

“It will also reduce the dependence and environmental impact of diesel oil,” Kupfer said, with the four generators using a “cleaner burning fuel” than the diesel which the US Virgin Islands and many other remote island territories rely on, leading to “reduced emissions and enhanced overall air quality”.

“There is no adverse impact to land, water or the surrounding areas,” Kupfer said.

“The ability to most efficiently burn both LPG and LFO was a major factor in selecting the Wärtsilä LG engines for this project. Additionally, the hybrid solution will add even more operational flexibility and will serve to improve the existing grid stability on the island,” Wartsila Energy business development manager Edmund Phillips said.

“This project showcases our unique technological capabilities in combining an engine power plant and energy storage, and our commitment to drive the energy transition towards low carbon systems.”

Greensmith no more: Silicon Valley acquisition now integrated into parent company

The system will be controlled by Wartsila’s GEMS energy management platform. Regular readers of Energy-Storage.news will know that Finland-headquartered Wartsila acquired US energy storage company Greensmith Energy in 2017. Along with providing turnkey battery energy storage systems, the creation of the GEMS software platform was one of Greensmith’s key strong points.

At the beginning of July, Wartsila told this site that the Greensmith Energy brand was now “officially sunset” and became the Energy Storage and Optimisation (ES&O) division of Wartsila Energy Business.

“ES&O’s continued growth supports Wärtsilä’s ‘global path to 100% renewables’ vision, with storage and renewables driving decarbonisation strategy,” a company spokesperson told Energy-Storage.news.

In Wartsila’s half-year financial report for January to June 2020, net sales increased by 1% to €2,390 million (US$2759.43 million) and cash flow from operating activities increased to €293 million. However, the company revealed that the markets in which it operates had been adversely affected by COVID-19 and president and CEO Jaakko Eskola said that “customers remained hesitant to commit to new investments” in its Energy business.

In addition to a 200MW natural gas plant contract in the Northern Andes, South America, the company has also made a couple of significant energy storage project wins this year including the January announcement of a combined 126MWh of battery storage at two projects in South East Asia and the Caribbean, as well as a 70MW battery energy storage project which will play into markets run by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) announced in May. The company is also currently working with investor-developer Pivot Power in the UK on 100MW of battery storage across two projects

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