New Peaking Plant to Balance California’s Renewables

As utilities in California are scrambling to meet the state’s 33% renewable mandate by 2020, a 49.6-MW peaking plant in Modesto, Calif., built by Finnish firm Wärtsilä for the Modesto Irrigation District, has been commissioned to provide flexible, fast-start peaking generation to balance the state’s increase in intermittent renewable generation (Figure 4).

4. Flexible peaking. Wärtsilä in July handed over the new Woodland 3 Generation Project gas power plant, a 49.6-MW peaking plant in Modesto, Calif., that has been designed to balance California’s increase in intermittent renewable generation. Courtesy: Wärtsilä

The Woodland 3 Generation Project gas power plant, commissioned in July, is a modular plant that features six generating sets based on 20-cylinder Wärtsilä 34SG engines running on natural gas, which meet the stringent California state permit requirements. The flexible power plant is able to dispatch any or all of the six units and reach full plant output in five minutes or provide 25% power in just two minutes, Wärtsilä said. “The concept represents a multi-unit solution with the highest simple cycle efficiency available in the industry,” the firm added.

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.