Wärtsilä, a leading global supplier of flexible power plants and services to the global power generation market, is to supply and construct a complete power plant in South Africa for Sasol New Energy Holdings, the company responsible for Low Carbon Electricity in Sasol, an integrated global energy and chemical company. Wärtsilä’s scope of supply comprises the turnkey delivery of the complete power plant, including engineering, procurement and contracting. It will be powered by 18 Wärtsilä 20V34SG generating sets running on natural gas, with an output of 180MW. The order is included in Wärtsilä’s order book during the second quarter 2011.

The turnkey power plant will be installed at the company’s facilities in Sasolburg, south of Johannesburg. It will generate baseload electricity for the company’s own use, with excess production being eventually wheeled through the national grid.

In addition to enabling the customer to reduce its operating costs, the new gas engine-based power plant will notably reduce the company’s carbon footprint in the area. Another key environmental factor is that the Wärtsilä solution operates with a closed circuit cooling system, thus consuming absolutely no water. This is very important in a region where water is scarce.

“Wärtsilä’s ability to meet the customer’s needs regarding high operating efficiency, low generating costs and strong environmental sustainability was the key factor in being awarded this contract by Sasol New Energy Holdings. We have been able to comply with the very stringent quality and HSE standards required by oil and gas industry regulations. This was confirmed by thorough quality audit held in Wärtsilä,” says Tony van Velzen, regional director, Africa, Wärtsilä Power Plants.

“Low Carbon Electricity Generation is a key driver for Sasol to meet its environmental sustainability targets as well as to reduce its cost base for its electricity demand,” said Henri Loubser, managing director of Sasol New Energy Holdings. “Thus the selection of a suitable long-term partner with a strong commitment to supporting these needs is vital to Sasol New Energy.”

The efficiency of the Wärtsilä gas engines is especially important, as the Sasolburg plant is located at an altitude of 1,700m. Despite this altitude, gas engines can operate extremely efficiently.

Wärtsilä South Africa has had its local headquarters in Cape Town since 1994 where it employs close to 50 employees including mechanics, service engineers, spare parts co-ordinators and services sales team. Wärtsilä also has workshops in Durban, Namibia, and in Madagascar. Wärtsilä South Africa is operating a 24MW power plant for a mining compound totalling 80 employees in Southern Africa operations. Its main activities consist of servicing all present installations mainly for the marine industry and managing the operation and maintenance of various power plants in the SADEC region, including Madagascar, Angola and Zambia.

By the end of 2010, Wärtsilä had delivered 4,500 power plants in 168 countries totalling over 47GW.