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Wärtsilä interview: Championing a path to renewables

At first glance it may seem incongruous that a company which is not in the renewables space should be championing a path towards a 100 per cent clean energy transition.

Yet that is exactly the strategic direction being taken by energy solutions group Wärtsilä. A long-established player in the engine and EPC sectors, the company has repositioned itself as an energy system integrator.

“We would like to lead the path towards a 100 per cent renewable energy future,” says Nicolas Leong, Wärtsilä’s regional director for Southeast Asia. “Our goal is to champion that path.”

He acknowledges that this new strategy “could be quite controversial”, but stresses that Wärtsilä is simply taking a pragmatic ” if bold ” approach to accelerate an energy future that many people acknowledge is the way forward.

“For us, it is a call to action, because we believe we currently have the knowledge and the technology to make this transition happen, whether it be on a country level, a community level or a customer level.

“In the future when solar, wind and other renewables become the new baseload, we will need a technology that will provide back-up and balancing ” and that’s where the role of gas ” and synthetic fuels in the future ” will change from its current baseload role.”

A key enabler for Wärtsilä to move to this system enabler role was its acquisition two years ago of US storage firm Greensmith Energy. Now that blend of flexible engines and storage ” often delivered on a fast-track basis ” is the company’s blueprint for a solution to balance renewables and be both compatible and complementary to them.

And Leong adds that Asia provides a perfect location for Wärtsilä to tell its flexible energy story, because the solution “will allow countries such as à‚ Myanmar,Vietnam and Cambodia to leapfrog the mistakes that many developed countries made by investing in large conventional inflexible thermal plants that are fast-becoming stranded assets”.

“Our message is no longer just about efficiency or that ‘my engine is better than your turbine’ ” now we are talking a different language that flexibility is the game-changer. We want to lead the way to a 100 per cent renewables world ” and we invite everybody on board to make it happen.”

Wärtsilä will be the partner of the Knowledge Hubs atà‚ POWERGEN Asia in Malaysia later this year. Click here for details.