Wärtsilä’s 200 MW power plant to provide critical grid balancing and back-up power

Source: press release, 8 March 2021

The factory acceptance tests of the Wärtsilä 50SG engines for the El Tesorito power plant were conducted in Delivery Centre Trieste, with the customer attending the tests virtually (photo: Wärtsilä Corporation)

Wärtsilä’s 200 MW flexible baseload power plant project in Córdoba Province in Colombia proceeds despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract was placed in June 2020 by Termotesorito, a joint-venture enterprise between private utility companies Celsia and Proelectrica, and the natural gas provider Canacol. The order is valued at approximately EUR 100 million. For contractual reasons Wärtsilä announced the sale earlier with limited information in a press release in July 2020.

The El Tesorito plant will operate with eleven Wärtsilä 50SG engines fuelled by natural gas from nearby gas wells. When operational, the flexibility of the fast-starting Wärtsilä solution will provide critical grid balancing capability as Colombia incorporates increasing levels of intermittent energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. It will also provide back-up power for the system in case of shortage.

Engineering of the power plant is completed. All engines and generators have been tested at the factory and are ready for delivery, and auxiliary equipment are being manufactured. The construction project is scheduled to commence in April 2021.

“We have a long-term capacity contract to deliver a reliable supply to the grid, and to supply efficient energy when needed. For these reasons, we required a proven solution from an experienced provider with a strong track record. The flexibility, reliability and efficiency of the Wärtsilä plant, which can be started and stopped in a matter of minutes and which has a very low water consumption, is exactly what is needed as we integrate more and more renewables into the system,” says Álvaro Acevedo, Technical Director for El Tesorito.

“This will be a major flexible baseload power plant capable of helping the national grid cope with varying weather conditions. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the contract was negotiated remotely. We also carried out the testing of the engines remotely from our factory with the customer attending virtually. This allowed them live access to the instrument readings, and to verify that the camshaft, bearings and other components showed normal wear following the tests,” explains Gonzalo Granda, Business Development Manager and Managing Director for Colombia and Ecuador, Wärtsilä Energy.

The project will provide welcome economic activity in the plant’s rural location. It will also provide permanent employment for the operation and maintenance teams. The plant will comply with the strictest environmental regulations.

Celsia operates power plants in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras with a combined capacity of 1.8 GW. This new facility will bring the total to 2.0 GW.

Wärtsilä has been present in Colombia for more than 20 years, with a total delivered capacity of 250 MW prior to this project in various sectors including industrial self-generation for the cement and oil industries, as well as for water and electricity utilities.