The inauguration of the world’s largest gas-fired power plant based on combustion engines, the Aliaga power plant in Aliaga, Turkey, takes place today, 29 September.

The ceremony will be conducted by Wärtsilä CFO, executive vice president Raimo Lind, accompanied by Finland’s Ambassador to Turkey, Kirsti Eskelinen. Also presiding will be Mr N. Atil Akkan, who is chairman of Cakmaktepe Energy, owners of the plant, and also chairman of the Aliaga Industrial Park (ALOSBI) where the plant is situated. At the same time, a 25,000m² ‘Wärtsilä forest’ will be officially opened marking the planting of 2,000 pine trees in the ALOSBI Park.

The Aliaga combined cycle power plant has been built in three phases. The first phase was contracted in 2006, with two extensions added later in 2008. Wärtsilä equipment was specified for all three stages of the plant’s development, and altogether the power plant now has 28 Wärtsilä 20V34SG gas-fired generating sets, with the capability to produce more than 270MW of electricity in combined cycle mode.

“This journey was started with one bright idea, to which was added the world’s best power plant technology – made possible by Wärtsilä. Hard work and great courage is why we are here today,” says Sukru Akkan, CEO of Aliaga Cakmaktepe Energy.

“This is a proud day for Wärtsilä,” commented Vesa Riihimäki, group vice president, Wärtsilä Power Plants. “The Aliaga Cakmaktepe power plant is the world’s biggest gas-fired power plant based on combustion engines, and stands as testimony to the efficiency and reliability of Wärtsilä’s power plant technology. We are committed to fully supporting Turkey’s rapid economic growth with efficient electricity generating solutions, and this commitment is evidenced by the fact that we already have two offices employing 110 people established in the country.”

At the time of the inauguration, six of the Wärtsilä engines will be running, with the remainder to come on stream as soon as the transmission line investment serving the plant has been completed. The electricity produced by the Aliaga plant will then be sold to the Turkish spot market through the balancing mechanism, and will serve around 350,000 households.

Wärtsilä has a workshop located on the site to provide full service support to the plant’s operations, and also maintains the first phase (four engines producing 35MW of energy) of the Aliaga Cakmaktepe power plant under a maintenance agreement.

Powering Turkey’s economic growth

Turkey’s economic growth since the 1980s has been rapid, triggered by a shift in government strategy to open up markets and increase private participation. Consequently, during the first years of the 21st century, the national economy grew faster than new energy-production capacity.

An efficient and reliable energy supply is seen as being a vital factor in the further growth of the country’s economy. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has selected Turkey as one of its major investment targets, with the power and energy sector being a strong focus area.

Wärtsilä has been present in Turkey since 1991, helping to power this rapid economic growth. Wärtsilä currently has more than 260 Wärtsilä engines installed or on order in power plants throughout the country. By the end of 2011, Wärtsilä will have almost 3,000MW of generating capacity operating in Turkey.