Wärtsilä Enters South American Energy Storage Market

Dec. 6, 2021
Wärtsilä will be supplying 8 MW/32 MWh energy storage system to the leading Chilean power generation company Colbun to accelerate decarbonization.

The technology group Wärtsilä will supply an 8-MW/32-MWh energy storage system to Colbun, one of the largest power generation companies in Chile, to accelerate its transition to renewable energy as the country targets carbon neutrality by 2050. This is Wärtsilä’s first energy storage project in South America. The order was booked to Wärtsilä order intake in Q3, 2021 and the system is expected to become operational in the fourth quarter of 2022. Wärtsilä will supply the energy storage system on an engineering and equipment delivery (EEQ) basis.

The Wärtsilä energy storage system will be co-located with Colbun’s 230 MWp Diego de Almagro solar photovoltaic (PV) facility located in the Atacama region; an area well-known for its solar radiation. This will be Colbun’s first system of an energy storage portfolio that will allow the power generation company to integrate additional renewable energy capacity to achieve net zero emissions.

The energy storage system will also help proactively address constraints on the transmission system from the new solar facility and allow Colbun to shift excess energy production from day to night to avoid curtailment, which also improves revenues for the company. Additionally, the system will provide frequency response and firm capacity to ensure adequate energy supply during peak periods. Once the system will be operational, some 80,000 households are estimated to benefit from it.

“One of the current challenges of wind and solar generation is intermittency. But by incorporating electrical storage alternatives, such as the energy storage project associated with our Diego de Almagro solar plant, we can solve for fluctuations in generation and capture the full value of renewable sources. By adding energy storage, Colbun seeks to provide robustness to the Chilean national electrical system,” said Christoph Perathoner, construction manager, Colbun. “We take this step-in alliance with Wärtsilä, a first-rate company with extensive international experience in energy storage equipment.”

According to a 2021 report by Wärtsilä, “Front-Loading Net Zero,” achieving a 100% carbon neutral power system in Chile before 2050 is possible with the buildout of renewable energy and short- and long-term energy storage. As coal-fired power plants in Chile are phased out by 2040, and more renewable energy capacity is integrated, battery storage systems will play an instrumental role in daily shifting of solar energy and providing ancillary services that maintain grid reliability.

“Chile has become a leader in renewable energy and the country has one of the most ambitious and economical decarbonisation plans in the world,” said Andrew Tang, vice-president of energy storage & optimization, Wärtsilä. “We are excited to enter the Chilean market to assist Colbun and others capitalise on the opportunity to realize a 100% carbon neutral energy system with market-leading energy storage technologies within the next few decades.”

The Diego de Almagro storage facility will include Wärtsilä’s GridSolv Quantum, a fully integrated, modular and compact energy storage system, as well as the GEMS Digital Energy Platform. Wärtsilä’s sophisticated energy management system, GEMS, will co-optimise the utilisation of the energy storage system and the solar PV facility. By using machine learning and data analytics, GEMS determines the most economical periods to dispatch energy to and from the energy storage system, therefore increasing the value of both assets.

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