Photo: Courtesy of Wärtsilä

Wärtsilä to convert Brazilian power plant to natural gas

Finnish technology group Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to convert the UTE Ponta Negra power plant in Manaus to operate on natural gas instead of diesel fuel.

Wärtsilä said that the conversion would upgrade the plant’s performance, reduce its environmental impact, lower the operating costs, and ensure its availability and performance reliability.

The contract with Geradora de Energia do Amazonas (GERA Amazonas), was booked by Wärtsilä in September 2020. The plant currently operates on five Wärtsilä gas-diesel engines, which will be converted to engines powered by natural gas, allowing an increase in power generation capacity from the current 85 to 91 MW.

The use of 100 per cent of natural gas fuel will result in a reduction of 35,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, equivalent to the pollution from 7,600 cars. Also, particulate matter emissions will be significantly reduced. The conversion is scheduled to begin in May 2021 and be completed in spring 2022.

An existing Wärtsilä operation and maintenance agreement was also updated to correspond with the scope and responsibilities applying to the new engine technology. The plant, which was opened in 2006, has been operated and maintained by the Finnish firm for the past 12 years.

Alcio Adler, executive director of GERA Amazonas, said: “By converting the plant to run on the highly efficient, highly flexible natural gas fuel engines, we are again emphasising this commitment to the environment.

The additional capacity will also allow us to negotiate and renew our power purchase agreement with the regulatory agency. With Wärtsilä we have had a long and successful relationship and this conversion project, together with the renewed O&M agreement, shows the trust that we have in their ability to deliver the solutions we need”.

Carl Dunaway, general manager services projects for the Americas at Wärtsilä Energy, added: “This is all part of our effort to support customers in the transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future.

The engines will not only be completely revised to new tolerances but they will also be updated with the latest electrical and automation systems available from the Wärtsilä portfolio, ensuring the plant will remain extremely reliable for many years to come.

Continuing the service agreement relationship that has lasted for more than 13 years is further evidence of GERA’s trust in Wärtsilä. This confidence is shared by customers owning more than 3.4GW of capacity that we secure in the Americas today”.