Ilari Kallio Vice President, Technology  Engines, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions Editor-in-Chief of In Detail

Ilari Kallio: a flexible future

Flexibility is a multi-faceted word, meaning “the quality of bending easily without breaking,” “the ability to be easily modified” and a “willingness to change or compromise.” When we talk about our approach to the fuel flexibility of our engines, all these definitions are relevant.

Text: Ilari Kallio Photo: Wärtsilä

Wärtsilä was first on the scene with a dual-fuel engine, and now we are setting the trend and changing the marine market once again by being the first with a marine engine running on ethane. Power plants are also becoming more fuel flexible to be able to run on propane, methane, biofuel and ethane. Many of the adaptations we have made have been at the request of our customers, whose specialised needs sometimes require a unique, flexible solution.

The fact that our products have been modified to operate – and not merely run but function efficiently – on a range of fuels is the epitome of flexibility. Furthermore, the willingness of our company to make changes to incorporate these new possibilities shows a flexible mind-set within the organisation as well. We do not want our customers to be dependent on one particular fuel being available today. Therefore, we are willing and capable to find ways to meet not only the demands of the present but the future needs as well.

Now we are taking our strategy for flexibility further into the future. For example, engine-solar PV hybrids complement each other to increase the efficiency of a power plant and help install renewables. Currently, the industry is looking at what energy storage and batteries can bring, but the future may reveal additional ways to store renewable energy so that it is not wasted.

One such opportunity may be to store excess energy as different types of liquid and gaseous fuels that then become energy storage. For now, we are making our products as ready and efficient as possible so that, whenever new energy sources come about, we are able to find ways to integrate them with our fuel-flexible technologies.

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