Decarbonise with a plan and a partner

“Decarbonisation is an opportunity to be taken. Don’t think of it as only a challenge to be solved.” Wärtsilä’s Decarbonisation Services concept builds and enacts a roadmap to reduce emissions and ensure reliability with a low cost of electricity.

Ella Teperi, Manager, Market & Financial Analysis at Wärtsilä Energy, is used to finding opportunities when she crunches numbers. She uses advanced modelling and simulations to help customers plan and follow long-term strategies to improve their energy systems. 

“Our approach is holistic,” Teperi says. “We work to understand our customers, their needs and their systems. Together we develop a decarbonisation plan and then implement it.  Continuous optimisation of their energy system, implementing engine conversions, and integration projects such as renewables and energy storage will get them to their goals.” 

Use right technologies at right times 

Companies are under pressure to decrease emissions as they continue to compete in a global marketplace. Many of Wärtsilä’s mining and industrial customers operate their own microgrids, either from choice or necessity. They want to decarbonise but need to do it efficiently and economically. Wind and solar power can offer emission-free energy at lower costs than fossil fuels, but they also add uncertainty into the system. 

“I think everybody today can see the importance of decarbonisation, which is becoming a must rather than a nice-to-have. Adding renewables can improve sustainability and lower costs, but they negatively impact reliability because they provide electricity intermittently,” Teperi explains. 

The challenge for companies is to identify and employ the right solutions and technologies at the right times. They must also continue running their businesses, and for that they need a trustworthy supply of energy at acceptable prices. This is not a simple task and there is great uncertainty on the best way to proceed. For this they need a long-term, dynamic action plan. 

Build a foundation of sustainability, cost and reliability 

“Decarbonisation is a journey, not a single solution,” explains Tarik Sfendla, Head of Business Development at Wärtsilä Energy. “Our Decarbonisation Services concept is based upon the three pillars of emission reduction, cost and reliability. If you don’t have these three pillars your plan is going to topple over.” 

Wärtsilä’s vision of decarbonisation is a practical roadmap to reduce CO2 emissions. It includes a thorough understanding of the customer’s business and the options available. For example, do they have the land for solar panels? Does the locale receive enough wind? A wealth of data is collected and analysed using proven techniques so every decision is made on the foundation of hard data. It identifies what to do and makes sure those actions are taken. In essence, it provides the customer not just a roadmap but also the car and driver.

“The willingness to engage in decarbonisation is there, but the key is figuring out how to do it and then implementing your plan,” says Sfendla. “That’s where we come in. We don’t sell you a plan and then walk away. We are there every step of the journey.”

Decarbonisation Services provides not just a roadmap but also the car and driver.

Tarik Sfendla

View options with modelling and simulations 

To begin, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the company’s current situation and goals, as well as the costs and benefits of each available option. A roadmap to decarbonisation can then be made and implemented, continually optimising the system over time. 

“Our modelling process allows power system optimisation at each step of the process,” explains Teperi. “We use real scenarios to help determine the optimal capacity mix to meet the customer’s specific goals. The system consisting of optimal technologies is then simulated at the millisecond-level of detail to make sure the system can meet stability criteria and handle fault events that could occur.”

A power grid with renewables and storage

Wärtsilä’s advanced power system modelling and dynamic simulations can find the optimal path to cut emissions, save money and provide reliable power. The baseline is defined, optimisation needs are evaluated and concrete targets are integrated into the system. The models can analyse loads, verify reliability and identify stability boundaries. 

The decarbonisation plan must be dynamic, not set in stone. For example, the demand for solar photovoltaic panels is currently outpacing supply, leading to rising costs of solar power. The decarbonisation journey must evolve and change as needed, integrating market changes, avoiding risks and taking advantage of opportunities as they develop. Additionally, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is a custom-made plan that is developed and implemented based upon each customer. 

Support your business model as you decarbonise 

Wärtsilä’s Decarbonisation Services is based on a long-term partnership with customers on the journey to a 100% renewable energy future. As a partner, Wärtsilä advises, optimises and brings in essential technologies. All of Wärtsilä’s considerable solutions, experience and skills are brought to execute the plan. 

“Our services support the customer’s business model,” explains Director Christoffer Ek, heading Decarbonisation Services at Wärtsilä Energy. “For example, a mine’s core product is not electricity but they are under increasing pressure to decarbonise. In collaboration with the customer we come up with a long-term solution allowing them to focus on their business. We add anything to the mix which helps them achieve their goals.” 

There can be many ways to proceed on the decarbonisation journey. Energy asset optimisation can be achieved with the GEMS energy management system. Efficiency can be improved with long-term service agreements and engine optimisation. Emissions can be lowered by adding renewable energy generation or fuel conversion of engines. Reliability could be added with energy storage systems and fast-starting dual fuel engines (which could also use clean fuels of the future like biomethane, for example). 

“Each step you take prepares for the next one,” says Ek. “This makes a smoother transition in the future. You decarbonise without sacrificing your core business.” 

Example: Decarbonising a mine’s microgrid 

One example of Wärtsilä’s Decarbonisation Services in operation is a plan for a major mining operation. They are under pressure to decrease emissions, but have availability and reliability challenges due to the integration of variable renewable energy generation. The company is unsure of the optimal path to decarbonise their system. 

A plan was developed after detailed modelling and simulations. The first step was power system optimisation through the GEMS energy management system. This alone would cut CO2 emissions and lower costs. Energy storage would be added six months later, bringing yet more emission reduction and cost savings while improving reliability. Existing engines are converted to fast-starting dual-fuel engines, followed by additional renewable generation capacity. The plan should lower emissions by 24.1% and reduce costs by 15% in five years. 

“By following this roadmap, our customer would mitigate the risks associated with the life of a mine and have steps to ensure CO2 is decreased while reliability is maintained,” Sfendla says. “This would reduce total direct CO2 emissions by 42 kilotons per year.” 

Wärtsilä has skin in the game 

Wärtsilä’s Decarbonisation Services concept shouldn’t be considered like a traditional product or service approach. Instead, it is structured like a partnership, where Wärtsilä and the customer share common decarbonisation goals. 

“We have tied our success to the success of our customers,” says Sfendla. “Our decarbonisation services use outcome-based agreements, so our gain is based upon our customers’ goals, like savings, emissions and reliability. We are in this together for the long term.”

Written by
David J. Cord