Flexibility is the key to profitable power generation today and in a future filled with renewable generation technologies. Our combustion engine plants provide ultimate flexibility and high efficiency while harnessing gaseous, liquid or biofuels to increase system-level resilience, energy security in the face of natural disasters or problems in the fuel logistics chain, politics or prices.

As intermittent renewable generation sources such as wind and solar become more prevalent operational flexibility, which allows power plants to quickly shut on and off, catching peak loads as needed is going to be crucial for balancing the power system of the future.

Fuel flexibility

As regional fuel availability often is an important factor in many power plant projects, Wärtsilä continues to explore the use of alternative fuels and multi-fuel technologies. Many fuels besides natural gas are being burned in Wärtsilä’s fuel-flexible installations across the world. These include LPG (propane), ethane and methanol, to name a few. Wärtsilä continues to explore fuel options for the future and intends to remain at the forefront of innovation and fuel flexibility so we can continue to provide peace of mind as markets grow and change to adapt to the future of power generation. Today natural gas continues to grow in popularity as a fuel for power generation, however Wärtsilä’s fuel-flexible engine portfolio is well prepared to go beyond the conventional liquid and gas fuels and use various alternative liquid and gas fuels. The option of using dual- and tri-fuel technologies allows plant owners to hedge for the future making investments today as future-proof as possible.

Operational flexibility

Around the globe, the energy market landscape is in transition, largely due to the rapidly decreasing cost of renewables. Major players are moving towards more flexible and sustainable energy systems with an increasing share of renewable energy, declining inflexible baseload generation, and a wider application of energy storage technology. Flexibility should be added to power systems to ensure that it can cope with the intermittent generation from renewables.

Wärtsilä combustion engine power plants can start and ramp to full load very quickly due to rapid ignition of fuel within the cylinders and the coordinated starting of multiple generating sets. The unlimited starting and stopping with no impact on maintenance means that you can layer in intermittent renewables, or simply run when it’s profitable and stop when it’s not.

Wärtsilä combustion engine power plants employ high efficiency lean-burn technology that can reach full load in as little as two (2) minutes under “hot start” conditions. Startup time is not affected by the amount of time the unit had been previously shut down. Combustion engine power plants also have combined cycle advantages as sufficient steam pressure can be generated with only a subset of the engines operating.

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> 500MW

Liquid fuels

Natural gas

Liquid fuels and gas

Flexible baseload (>6000 running hours annually)

Intermediate load (2000 - 6000 running hours annually)

Peaking and grid stability (<2000 running hours annually)


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Country specific studies

Sri Lanka specific study

Sri Lanka

By optimising the Sri Lankan power system, cumulative savings up to USD 5 billion could be made. Read more in the white paper.

Chile specific study


High Renewable Integration and the optimal power system. Read more in the white paper.

Customer References

  • Centrica, UK
    The rapid growth in renewable energy in the UK has increased the need for flexible power to balance the electricity grid. Wärtsilä has worked closely with energy and services company Centrica to provide the changing market with flexible energy, helping tackle the issues created by intermittent renewables and supporting the transition to a low-carbon energy system.

    Centrica, UK

  • PLTD Pesanggaran, Bali
    Indonesia is one of Asia’s fastest growing economies in terms of energy consumption. With a steadily growing population of nearly 270 million and an increasing rate of urbanization, there is significant need for a reliable and guaranteed supply of power throughout the archipelago. In recent years, the country has been successful in increasing installed capacity and investments in infrastructure to both improve the reliability and efficiency of the main grids such as the Java-Grid and increase electrification of the small grids.

    PLTD Pesanggaran, Bali

  • Faster parts procurement
    Matanuska Electric Association

    Faster parts procurement

  • Port Westward Unit 2 Portland, Oregon, USA
    Portland General Electric Company (PGE) is an investor-owned utility (IOU) located in the Pacific Northwest, which provides electric service to industrial, commercial and residential customers in Portland, Oregon, and surrounding communities. Today, PGE serves more than 800,000 customers within their 4000-square-mile service territory comprising 52 Oregon cities. In 2009, PGE submitted an Integrated Resource Plan to the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) which stated the need for approximately 200 MW of flexible peaking capacity.

    Port Westward Unit 2 Portland, Oregon, USA

  • Eklutna Generation Station, Palmer, Alaska, USA
    "In the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, these engines can switch fuels without a hiccup."

    Eklutna Generation Station, Palmer, Alaska, USA

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