Basin Electric Power Cooperative has awarded a contract to Wärtsilä to supply a Smart Power Generation power plant for its planned facility in Williston, North Dakota. The contract was finalized in September, and the equipment will be delivered in November 2015.
The Smart Power Generation power plant will utilize twelve Wärtsilä 34SG natural gas engines for an output of 112 MW, and will be the first plant with internal combustion engine (ICE) technology in Basin Electric’s portfolio.
The oil boom in the nearby Bakken area has created increased electrical demand, and for some time new flexible generation capacity has been needed to cover peak load demand in the region.
Shale oil reserves in the Bakken formation, along with the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking, have created an economic boom in North Dakota. In 2013, gross domestic product grew by 9.7 percent, five times faster than the national average. North Dakota also has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. In 11 years, the population of Williston grew by 28 percent.
Dan Johnson, Wärtsilä's Business Development Manager said, "The key to operational flexibility is quick starting and fast ramping. This is increasingly needed to follow load efficiently and to shave peaks in power demand."
Explaining why Basin Electric chose to use ICEs, Project Manager Josh Rossow said, "The main reason is the inherent reliability and flexibility of combustion engines. They are reliable in cold environments and perform well using natural gas that is rich with ethane and propane. They also have a better heat rate than combustion turbines, which reduces fuel consumption."
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