Fueling a More Reliable and Clean Energy Future for El Salvador
This week, global energy technology company Wärtsilä announced the installation and successful operation of a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU). The FSRU is a critical component to the 378 MW Energía del Pacifíco power generation, which is the largest private infrastructure investment ever in El Salvador. The FSRU is part of the technology solution which also includes Wärtsilä 50SG gas engines and a steam turbine cycle which will provide power for 30 percent of the country’s electricity demand and transform El Salvador to a net exporter of electric power instead of a net importer.
Additionally, the project, which started in 2013, represents a critical shift to cleaner energy production because it will replace heavy fuel oil power generation and offer flexibility needed to support increasing utilization of renewable energy into the national grid.
The flexible baseload power plant will be able to produce power when it is needed for as long as it is needed with reliable efficiency. The plant will be able to react quickly to demand changes in the system as well as variability challenges caused by changes in wind and solar supply. As renewable energy declines based on weather patterns, this power plant will be the first to respond and ramp up.
“Another unique feature of this flexible power plant will be the ability to produce energy efficiently even at partial loads,” Sampo Suvisaari, Wärtsilä Energy Business Director for Latin America North said. “This type of project is an exciting development for us as innovators and as partners in the energy transition in El Salvador.”
In 2019, Invenergy, a U.S.-based global developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions, became the major shareholder of Energía del Pacifíco. Invenergy has successfully developed more than 25 GW of power generation projects, including natural gas, wind, solar, and advanced energy storage facilities. Under the Invenergy ownership, the first challenge to be tackled was to conceive a viable technical solution for the LNG importing terminal. Ultimately, Energia del Pacifico determined that the most practical and cost-effective solution was a permanently moored Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) converted from an existing LNG carrier.
“For the power plant, the Wärtsilä Flexicycle solution was ideal, since it has greater flexibility than a combined cycle gas turbine solution to quickly respond to the electric grid’s changing needs. It is a victory for cleaner, more efficient power generation,” Joel Schroeder, Vice President of Thermal Engineering, at Invenergy said.
How the FSRU will work:
- The FSRU will receive and store LNG transferred from LNG carriers, then regasify the LNG onboard the FSRU to meet the power plant’s needs.
- Gas will be delivered to the onshore power plant via a subsea pipeline, which started this week.
- The regasification and power generation systems onboard the FSRU are provided by Wärtsilä Gas Solutions.
Additionally, more than 1400 workers are employed in El Salvador on the Energía del Pacifíco project. Upon completion, 80 full-time, permanent jobs will be created to operate and maintain the power plant, the FSRU, and the accompanying infrastructure. The new plant will support the reliability of the electricity grid, while its fast-starting flexibility will also promote easy integration of renewable energy into the system.