Wärtsilä is doing much of its business today in the 100 MW+ distributed generation market, an area more usually served by suppliers of gas turbine installations. But the availability of large thermally efficient diesel and gas engines at competitive prices is making the internal combustion option an attractive one, and not just in the remoter areas of the world.

Several large contacts have been won by the company recently, the Humboldt Bay project in northern California being typical. This is a 163 MW plant due for completion in 2009. But a more recent contract will be fulfilled first, for AzerEnerji, the national energy company of Azerbaijan, which has ordered a 300 MW, r160 million plant for commercial operation in autumn 2008. The order follows contracts for 450 MW of plant sold during 2005 to the same customer and commissioned at the end of 2006.

The multi-fuel power plant will consist of eighteen 17 MWe 18V50DF generating sets and related equipment and is to be located in Sangachal, 50 km south of the capital Baku. All electrical power will be fed directly to the Azerbaijan national grid.

Wärtsilä will also deliver the power plant design, other principal equipment and all building materials, while undertaking supervision of the building and equipment installation. In addition Wärtsilä undertakes the training of AzerEnerji operating and service personnel for a period of 2 years.

The 50DF engines give the plant considerable fuel flexibility. The engines will primarily run on natural gas, with a small quantity of pilot liquid fuel for ignition. However, it will also be possible to switch the engines over to heavy fuel oil if there is a problem with the gas supply, and the engines can also use light fuel oil. They will deliver the same power rating on all three fuels.

This is the sixth AzerEnerji plant contracted with Wärtsilä. In 2005, AzerEnerji ordered five power plants with a combined output of 450 MWe, all based on multiple Wärtsilä 34SG gas-engined generating sets. The power plants, located in Astara, Baku, Khachmaz, Nakhivan and Sheki (see map), have all been commissioned during 2006.

Azerbaijan has an installed generating capacity of about 5000 MWe, with a high utilisation factor. Many of the plants are more than 40 years old. Additional capacity needed to be added rapidly and these power plants could be delivered quickly, adding some 15% to the national grid capacity. Furthermore their gas-fuelled engines can take advantage of the plentiful natural resources in the country.

The 163 MWe gas-fired power plant (10x18V50DF lean-burn dual-fuel engines on an EPC contract) to be delivered to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), one of the largest gas and electric utilities in the USA, will be located in Humboldt Bay near Eureka in northern California and is expected to enter commercial service by mid-2009. PG&E were aiming to repower the existing plant. The new facility should be 35 % more efficient, with 90 % lower air emissions.