2016_1 Wärtsilä delivers the first propane-fired power plant master

Wärtsilä delivers the first propane-fired power plant

In September 2014, Wärtsilä was awarded a contract for a pair of Wärtsilä 20V34SG-LPG GasCubes to be installed for an industrial customer in Central America. These are the first Wärtsilä 20V34SG-LPG GasCubes to use propane gas as their main fuel.

Text: JYRKI ANTURANIEMI & ANTTI MELAMIES Photo:

Jyrki Anturaniemi, Proposal Manager, Americas, Sales Proposals, Wärtsilä Energy Solutions, believes the Wärtsilä 34SG-LPG is well suited for this application. Not only is the Wärtsilä 34SG-LPG engine the right size for the job, it meets the customer’s requirements for a package that enables liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fuel usage and can be delivered quickly. Furthermore, it also satisfies the customer’s need for a compact, space-saving and fully engineered solution. This project, with an extended-EEQ (Engineered Equipment Delivery) scope basis from Wärtsilä, allows the customer to save money, by assuming the responsibility for purchasing and installing its own supplied boiler system alongside the GasCube solution. 

In brief, the scope of the order includes standard supporting auxiliaries for the gas fuel system (natural gas/liquefied petroleum gas), such as a lube oil system, starting air system, cooling system, charge air system, exhaust gas silencer, automation & control system, low-voltage and medium-voltage switchgear, basic engineering, civil material for the Cubes and a reasonable number of days for installation and commissioning supervision and training. 

The key driver was the existing LPG at the site. This facility needed 14 MW of electricity generation supplied with LPG fuel, consisting of a minimum 97% propane and maximum 3% butane.

When operating on natural gas at the generator terminals, the normal output of the Wärtsilä 20V34SG unit is 9341 kWe. For LPG operation, the output is 6995 kWe, but the same engine can run on natural gas (NG) and achieve the full output of 9341 kWe per unit. This solution gives the customer the fuel flexibility to switch from LPG to NG fuel operation in the future, when they anticipate availability of natural gas from an LNG terminal project in the area. This would give the plant a total generating capacity of 18.6 MW when fuelled by natural gas.

The Wärtsilä engines will generate energy for the customer’s industrial facility processes with the LPG fuel. This underlines and demonstrates the confidence in and reliability of the provided solution.

This project opened up a new alternative fuel usage for Wärtsilä technology to improve the competitiveness of the Wärtsilä 34SG engine. One of the particular benefits was the GasCube concept, which seemed to be the only configuration that would fit in the customer’s plant area, thereby bringing significant demonstrable value to the customer.

2016_1 Wärtsilä delivers the first propane-fired power plant 2
The Wärtsilä 34SG is the first and largest medium-speed engine running on propane on the market.

Propane facts

  1. Propane is the main component in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is commonly used in cooking appliances and vehicles and is increasingly offered for power production. LPG is a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. By replacing heavy fuel oil with propane, carbon dioxide and other emissions from a power plant can be significantly reduced.
  2. The Wärtsilä 34SG is the first medium-speed engine capable of running on propane. It is also the largest engine running on propane on the market.
  3. The propane engine is not a new engine type, but the Wärtsilä 34SG is optimized for using propane. The same engine can be used with propane, natural gas and also ethane, making it, in fact, a tri-fuel engine. Fuels can be changed on the fly without stopping the engine. We see this new development as a natural extension of the fuel flexibility of Smart Power Generation power plants. Fuel security is important, and customers have the capability of always choosing the cleanest and the most affordable fuels – or simply the fuels that are readily available. 
  4. Customers are interested in propane especially in areas where natural gas is not available and in areas where it will be available in the future – for example, LNG plans on islands. Propane can serve as a temporary solution since the same power plant can run on both fuels.
  5. In March 2016 Wärtsilä received an order to supply a 28 MW propane power plant to Honduras.

28 MW Propane power plant to honduras

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