The technology group Wärtsilä and electric utility Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) have signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for a 46.5 MW dual-fuel power plant at the Garden of Eden Generating Complex in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The project will be an immediate boost to the reliability of Guyana’s electricity system and will support near term integration of renewables into the grid. The order was booked with Wärtsilä in December 2019.

Oil exploration activities in the offshore waters of Guyana have resulted in significant finds of crude oil and associated gas. As a result, the potential utilisation of natural gas led GPL to make the strategic decision to opt for dual-fuel fired generating units, able to operate on both natural gas and liquid fuels. The new power plant will, therefore, operate on five highly efficient Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel engines that will initially run on liquid fuel, and on natural gas when that fuel becomes available. As part of the project, Wärtsilä will also supply a 69 kV sub-station to be integrated within the existing Garden of Eden sub-station. The Wärtsilä plant is being delivered on a fast-track basis and is scheduled to be completed in mid-2020.

The fast-starting capability of the Wärtsilä engines will provide the necessary load balancing for the future integration of renewable energy supplies, primarily solar and wind, into the grid. Since renewables are inherently variable, flexible response from the generator sets is essential.

“GPL is confident in Wärtsilä’s ability to meet the challenging timeline that has been set for completion of this project. Our electricity demand is expected to grow at a signification rate during the next two years, and this new power plant will be the first step in addressing this growth. It will also allow us to retire older and less efficient unreliable generating units, including several that now use expensive LFO. When this plant is completed, the additional generating capacity will result in improved system reliability, reduced fuel costs which will translate into reduced tariff requirements and will support our plans for adding PV solar and wind based power generation to our system. Furthermore, with the full support of the Government of Guyana, GPL is preparing for the day when natural gas will be available in the country, hence the selection of dual-fuel engines for this plant,” said Albert Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Power & Light Inc.

“Wärtsilä is pleased to support GPL in strengthening its grid reliability with this new and very efficient plant. We also share GPL’s vision in taking advantage of the benefits offered through the use of renewable energy, and this plant makes the addition of PV solar capacity to the GPL generation mix both possible and viable. We will bring our project management capabilities and technical expertise to bear in order to complete this project on time, and we look forward to a successful completion,” commented Mikael Backman, Energy Business Director, Americas North at Wärtsilä.

This is the sixth power plant that Wärtsilä is supplying to GPL - a relationship that goes back to 1992 when the first Wärtsilä plant was constructed at the Garden of Eden site.