El Salvador shifts to cleaner energy with Wärtsilä floating regasification unit

Image credit: Wärtsilä

Energy technology company Wärtsilä has announced the installation and successful operation of a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) at the Port of Acajutla, El Salvador.

The FSRU is considered a critical component of the Energía del Pacifíco power generation project, which consists of a 378MW natural gas-fired power plant, a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU), and an approximately 44-kilometer electric transmission line that connects to the Central American Electrical Interconnection System.

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% of the country’s electricity demand, according to Wärtsilä.

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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 flexible baseload power 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.

The project, which started in 2013, will allow a shift to cleaner energy production, replacing heavy fuel oil power generation and offering the flexibility needed to support renewables integration.

In 2019, US-based energy developer, Invenergy, became the major shareholder of Energía del Pacifíco. Under the Invenergy ownership, the team had to mitigate the challenge of ensuring 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.

Upon completion, 80 full-time, permanent jobs will be created to operate and maintain the power plant, the FSRU, and the accompanying infrastructure.

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