Gas, New Projects, News, On-Site Power

Mobile solutions in challenging regions: Q&A with PW Power Systems CEO Raul Pereda

Last year, PW Power Systems delivered three 30-MW mobile dual-fuel turbines to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The three massive on-site power gen-sets offer flexibility for the island grid devastated by Hurricane Maria only two years ago and other weather events since then.

Raul Pereda, president and CEO of PW Power Systems LLC for the past two years, participated in a recent Q&A with Power Engineering (PE) discussing the company’s on-site power and grid support work in Puerto Rico and in developing nations. He also detailed the potential for energy storage and mobile power solutions throughout regions at risk from weather events.

Pereda

Pereda also is executive vice president for Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas. MHPS Americas originally acquired PWPS (formerly Pratt & Whitney Power Systems) in 2013 and integrated into the parent company operations last year.

Pereda has worked for PWPS since 2007. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Miami, a Master of Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology and is a graduate of the DoD’s Defense Systems Management College.

PE: We’ve done some stories on larger scale on-site power in developing countries recently. What is PWPS doing in that particular sector and why is it proving to be so important?

Pereda:  “In developing countries, power needs tend to be more urgent than in countries that can better plan their long-term power requirements. Developing countries often do not have the time, resources, or infrastructure to handle the output from a large industrial gas turbine or any other large power plant. In these cases, using smaller, distributed power plants that are easy to construct, operate, and maintain makes more sense. This sector is proving to be important, as there is a critical need that we can fill for customers who require reliable power to ensure that their basic infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, can remain operational. For larger loads, we simply provide multiple units which are able to generate the necessary combined power output on a fast-track basis. These units can run on multiple fuels, are able to supply isolated grids, and are ideal for black start situations. These advantages are important for developing nations that may not have adequate access to natural gas and which grids are much less mature than we are accustomed.”

PE: Energy storage is just a complementary asset to microgrids, renewables and other on-site power options. Is PWPS interested in batteries?

Pereda:  “Grid operating authorities all over the world have the same objectives of maintaining power quality and energy market stability. Both objectives require the ability to rapidly balance available sources of power with the dynamic demand for power.  

“With our growing use of renewable sources, which are limited in their ability to respond to grid fluctuations and on occasion can be volatile and intermittent, we see energy storage as a critical component that can help maintain grid stability, ensuring power quality and market stability. As one form of energy storage, batteries already have an important role. We currently offer a variety of battery solutions, both stand-alone battery energy storage systems and batteries combined with our gas turbine units.

“PWPS is working with a number of customers who are considering the addition of battery storage to existing plants. There are several advantages to this approach. First, battery storage combined with a gas turbine can take advantage of an existing interconnect and generate power from either the turbine, the battery system, or both. The battery can be utilized for real-time, short-duration generation (seconds to one hour) and the gas turbine for a longer duration (several hours) and emergency generation (days). This gives the system operator a flexible, single resource that can exactly match electricity demand at the interconnection point. Second, the battery can be used for load leveling. The battery can charge when the turbine is operating at a low load or when energy prices are low; this typically occurs when there are periods of low demand. The stored energy could then be used for rapid response to a sudden loss of generation (such as the loss of wind or solar sources).

“During events where there is an unexpected large loss of load, the battery can be used to absorb energy from the turbine and allow the turbine to ride through the event and stay online for continued operation. In both of these situations, a smaller aero-derivative with a battery can respond with a transient stability comparable to a much larger plant. Having a battery would allow the turbine to operate from a black start, eliminating the need for separate on-site power equipment to start the turbine should a blackout occur.”

PE: What is the need/desire on the part of customers globally for increased mobility of power systems?

Pereda: “We see a continued interest in mobile power systems in all market segments. For some applications, such as emergency power and e-fracking, a mobile power solution is necessary. PWPS has many customers who select our MOBILEPAC because it is easy and quick to install, and the ability to relocate the unit rapidly is an added benefit. The MOBILEPAC can be relocated and operational at another site in less than 24 hours. In general, there is an increasing demand for solutions that can be implemented on a fast-track basis, taking less time on-site to get plants constructed and power online. PWPS Engineering is working on a quick-installation package for our FT4000 product that will dramatically improve mobility and reduce time from equipment arrival to commercial operation. We’ve seen an increasing interest in barge-mounted packages from customers in densely populated urban communities, where land is limited and costly. We recently developed a barge-mounted FT4000 design capable of delivering over 400 MW with a compact footprint. We expect the demand for mobility and fast installation will continue to grow, and mobile packages and barges will meet this need.”

PE: Tell us more about your work in Puerto Rico. And what is your assessment on what kind of progress is being made there since Hurricane Maria?

Pereda: “Between the recent earthquake and Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has been facing a humanitarian crisis. Following Hurricane Maria, PWPS strategized on how to bolster Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure. Part of the solution is the three recently installed MOBILEPAC units at the Palo Seco Power Plant in Toa Baja. These MOBILEPAC units will be used for backup and peaking power at this site, and the units can be moved around the island to satisfy energy demand as the utility deems appropriate. There are eight other PWPS aero-derivative gas turbine packages that we installed for PREPA at the power station in Mayaguez in 2007. Continuous aftermarket support from PWPS allowed these peaking units to answer the call to run after Maria, and they’ve been generating power since the earthquake.

“The U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico needs a boost. Reliable power will help its residents and its economy recover. Fast-track, emergency power is required due to the damage at the Costa Sur Power Plant, which produces a quarter of the island’s electricity. It’s estimated that repair will take up to a year, and Puerto Rico will have to rely on its other power plants to operate almost at full capacity in order to meet demand.

“PWPS is working to identify solutions to further advance energy security in Puerto Rico and other areas where natural disasters are of greatest concern.”

(Q&A was conducted by Rod Walton, content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).

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Gas-fired turbines and technologies and On-site Power are both content tracks planned for POWERGEN International 2020 in Orlando this December. The POWERGEN call for abstracts is now open and ready for submissions on exciting utility-scale and distributed energy projects.