Wärtsilä has been awarded the contract to supply a Smart Power Generation power plant to Basin Electric Power Cooperative in Williston, North Dakota. The contract was signed in September 2014 and the equipment will be delivered in November 2015. Wärtsilä’s Smart Power Generation power plant will be the first with internal combustion engine (ICE) technology in Basin Electric’s portfolio. It will have an output of 112 MW from twelve Wärtsilä 34SG engines running on natural gas.
“The main reason is the inherent reliability and flexibility of combustion engines. They are reliable in cold environments and perform well using natural gas that is rich with ethane and propane. They also have a better heat rate than combustion turbines, which reduces fuel consumption,” Basin Electric’s Project Manager Josh Rossow says.
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New generation capacity is needed to meet the growing electricity demand caused by the oil boom in the nearby Bakken area. “We are seeing growth of demand in all sectors, including agriculture, the oil industry and households. New flexible capacity is needed to cover the peak load demand,” adds Rossow.
“The key to operational flexibility is quick starting and fast ramping. This is increasingly needed to follow load efficiently and to shave peaks in power demand,” Wärtsilä’s Business Development Manager Dan Johnson explains.
The vast shale oil reserves of the Bakken formation and the successful use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking have led to an unprecedented economic boom in North Dakota. Gross domestic product grew by 9.7 percent in 2013, five times faster than the national average. The unemployment rate is the lowest in the country. The population of Williston, home to the new power plant, grew by 28 percent between 2000 and 2011.
Wärtsilä’s total installed generating capacity in the United States is currently some 2,400 MW.