Wärtsilä has successfully converted three Brazilian power plants to natural gas. These major upgrades will lower costs and emissions while improving reliability.
The people of Brazil are taking concrete steps to strengthen their energy system and reduce carbon emissions. Wärtsilä recently partnered with three companies to help them convert their older engine power plants so that they can use gas as a fuel.
“These plants were using a mix of natural gas and heavy fuel oil,” explains Adriano Marcolino, Senior Business Development Manager of Agreements and Projects at Wärtsilä Brazil. “The government has provided incentives to move to cleaner fuels, in these cases moving to 100% natural gas. When you consider the efficiency gains and the subsidies, these upgrades will pay for themselves. By converting to pure gas and signing up to long-term service agreements the power plants will lower emissions, save fuel costs, and increase engine performance.”
By converting to pure gas and signing up to long-term service agreements the power plants will lower emissions, save fuel costs, and increase engine performance.
The three conversions took place in Manaus, in the state of Amazonas in North Brazil; with Rio Amazonas Energia (RAESA) to adapt its Cristiano Rocha power plant, with Companhia Energética Manauara (CEM) to convert its Manaura plant, and with Geradora de Energia do Amazonas (GERA Amazonas) for its UTE Ponta Negra plant.
“We are emphasising our commitment to the environment by converting the plant to run on Wärtsilä’s highly efficient, highly flexible gas engines,” says Alcio Adler, Executive Director of GERA Amazonas. “We have had a long and successful relationship with Wärtsilä, and this conversion project and renewed Operation & Maintenance agreement shows the trust that we have in their ability to deliver the solutions we need to better serve our customers.”
The three independent power producers have signed contracts that pledge to provide power to the people and companies of the area. At 20 years in length, the agreements represent major long-term commitments. This is illustrative of the trust in Wärtsilä to provide reliable and affordable solutions.
Wärtsilä helped its partners to develop a solid business case in order to determine the value of the conversions, and managed each phase of each project, from feasibility studies to financing, from solution proposals through to execution planning and implementation.
“We can undertake large, complex projects with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts,” Marcolino continues. “We handle everything so our customers can focus on their business and not worry about the project.”
By the end of each project, Wärtsilä had converted its 46GD dual-fuel combustion engines to Wärtsilä 50SG gas-fuelled engines. Wärtsilä and its customers also agreed on new or updated service agreements to keep the plants operating in great condition. Each plant ultimately increased output from 85 MW to 92 MW.
“One reason we increased output capacity is to ensure reliability of the supply of energy,” Marcolino says. “The power companies have signed contracts which state that they will provide energy and could be penalised if they fail. They also had to continue delivering power during the gas conversion process.”
“Our team is very proud of being part of the project to convert the first plant,” says Sandro Fernandes Souza, Plant Manager at Rio Amazonas Energia’s Cristiano Rocha plant. “By having renewed assets with higher reliability allows us to work on a possible contract extension to keep supplying energy to the people and companies on the Manaus electrical grid.”
Besides improved reliability of supply, Brazilians are now also enjoying lower prices due to the gas conversions, which eliminate heavy fuel oil usage and corresponding refunds from the national Fuel Consumption Account (CCC).
These three projects will not only take 105,000 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MTCDE) / year (≈ taking 22,800 cars off the road) but also reduce sulphur oxides (SOx) by 75%.
“This conversion project demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability,” says Bruno Menezes, Plant Director of Companhia Energética Manauara. “We are reducing our carbon footprint while improving our economic performance.”
The conversion, increased capacity and service agreements will also improve efficiency, reliability and predictability of costs, as well as resetting the engines to zero running hours. Marcolino also notes that these grid balancing engines will help Brazil prepare for the future. Conversion is the way to get prepared for the sustainable fuels of the future once they will come commercially viable and locally available.
“Brazil is a big country, but this will have a measurable impact,” Marcolino says. “We have performed gas conversions on over 100 engines worldwide and are ready to help even more companies to lower costs and emissions.”