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ENGINEERING: Wärtsilä's Largest Gas Engine Power Plant


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CAPE TOWN-based Wärtsilä is to supply Africa’s largest purely gas fuelled combustion engine power plant.

This will be the largest power plant running exclusively on gas engines to be installed on the African continent, and the first of its kind ever in South Africa. Having the capability to supply the complete turnkey package enabled Wärtsilä to provide valuable time schedule and performance guarantees for the project at the demanding altitude of 1700 meters.

Wärtsilä is to supply and construct the complete power plant. Wärtsilä’s scope of supply comprises the turnkey delivery of the complete power plant, including engineering, procurement and contracting. It will be powered by 18 Wärtsilä 20V34SG generating sets running on natural gas, with an output of 180 MW. The order is included in Wärtsilä’s order book during the second quarter 2011.

The turnkey power plant will be installed at the company’s facilities in Sasolburg. It will generate baseload electricity for the company’s own use, with excess production being eventually fed through the national grid.

In addition to enabling the customer to reduce its operating costs, the new gas engine-based power plant will notably reduce the company’s carbon footprint in the area. Another key environmental factor is that the Wärtsilä solution operates with a closed circuit cooling system, thus consuming no water. This is very important in a region where water is scarce.

Wärtsilä’s ability to meet the customer’s needs regarding high operating efficiency, low generating costs and strong environmental sustainability, was the key factor in being awarded this contract by Sasol New Energy. We have been able to comply with the very stringent quality and HSE standards required by oil and gas industry regulations. This was confirmed by thorough quality audit held in Wärtsilä,” says Tony van Velzen, regional director, Africa, Wärtsilä Power Plants.

Low carbon electricity generation is a key driver for Sasol to meet its environmental sustainability targets as well as to reduce its cost base for its electricity demand,” says Henri Loubser, managing director of Sasol New Energy.

The efficiency of the Wärtsilä gas engines is especially important, as the Sasolburg plant is located at an altitude of 1700 metres. Despite of this altitude, gas engines can operate extremely efficiently.

Wärtsilä South Africa has its local headquarter in Cape Town since 1994 where it employs close to 50 employees including mechanics, service engineers, spare parts co-ordinators and services sales team. Wärtsilä also has also workshops in Durban, Namibia, and in Madagascar. Its main activities consist of servicing all present installations mainly for the marine industry and manage the operation and maintenance of various power plants in the SADEC region, including Madagascar, Angola and Zambia.

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