MW Power is a joint venture between two global power technology leaders – Metso, which has a 60 per cent stake in the business, and Wärtsilä, which owns the remaining 40 per cent. The company is one of Europe’s leading providers of small and medium scale heat and power plants, focusing on renewable fuel solutions. MW Power concentrates on the European market, working primarily with process industries, utilities, municipalities and IPPs. The company’s range of biomass solutions includes modularised power plants ranging from five MWe (megawatt electrical) to ten MWe, bespoke boiler island solutions up to 20 MWe, heat plants for heat only applications and supporting services. MW Power supplied plants are typically using locally sourced biomass fuels for combined heat and power (CHP) production for customers such as process industry or another example is heat only production for small towns.
Jorma Lehtoviita, MW Power’s managing director, explains how the partnership behind MW Power benefits the business: “Having two powerful parents, Metso and Wärtsilä, to support us means we have the strength and capacity to respond quickly to the changing markets, whilst retaining the agility of a smaller company. Although MW Power was established in 2009, the technological knowhow of the business dates back much further with both partners providing complimentary skills. Metso brings decades of experience in boiler technology as well as R&D know-how, whilst Wärtsilä has extensive knowledge in building turn-key boiler plants and modular power plants.”
Certainly the market for this type of renewable fuel solution is increasing, due to greater concern for environmental sustainability and a desire to secure local energy solutions. “The EU has set challenging targets in reducing greenhouses gases by 2020. Alongside other renewables such as solar and wind power, this will require a full range of biomass fired power plants – from local community scale plants, up to large multifuel power plants which are capable of utilising biomass alone or together with the fossil fuels,” highlights Jorma. “Our parent company Metso supplies the large scale multifuel plants and MW Power is responsible for the smaller sizes based on biomass only. Together the group is able to offer solutions for all power generation needs in a complete package – from the storage and treatment of the raw biomass fuel to flue gas cleaning and heat recovery systems.”
In order to offer its clients efficient and effective power solutions in these alternative fuels, R&D is at the heart of MW Power’s business. The company’s credentials in this area are well known with its Biopower 5 system for biomass plants utilising combustion technology based on Wärtsilä’s Biograte technology. The company has also developed a new biomass plant type, Biopower 8, which produces slightly higher energy levels and is derived from Metso’s bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) technology.
Looking at recent projects, MW Power is currently completing a contract for six biomass plants in Germany, each of which uses its Biopower 5 system. The fifth of these plants was connected to the grid in late autumn 2010, with plans to synchronise the final one during the first quarter of 2011. Commenting on the mechanics of the project, Jorma says: “Biopower plants are uniquely based on modular design and supplied on a turnkey basis. We prefabricate the standardised modules, containing the process equipment, in our workshops in Finland, which are then tested before shipping. This speeds up the construction and installation phases, minimises fieldwork and lowers costs for all involved parties.” The company also recently inaugurated two plants in Sweden, the Gällivare and the Jordbro plants with the new facilities for CHP production and specially constructed so that they can use a variety of different biofuels. The latest order for MW Power comes from Estonia, where MW Power is delivering a complete CHP plant to secure energy supply for a customer in pellet industry.
In several projects, the key engineering partner for MW Power is Citec Engineering. Citec has developed the modularisation concepts for both Wärtsilä and MW Power such as the Biopower 5 modularisation. Additionally, Citec has provided services such as plant design, on site construction management and commissioning for MW Power. “The key strength of Citec is their solid modularisation know-how combined with their long track-record of running global engineering projects. The partnership with Citec has been very valuable to us,” says Jorma.
With more and more successfully completed projects to its name and the new EU targets prompting ideal market conditions for MW Power to grow, the long term future looks bright. “A short term future for us bears also challenges such as still recovering financial situations in many countries and yet unclear subsidy systems for renewables,” Jorma continues. “A lot of our clients rely on subsidy schemes, so we continue to work to lower investment costs as well as finding solutions for low grade, and therefore cheaper, fuels in order to make these systems profitable for everyone. In terms of our product lines, there is growing interest for a smaller as well as larger sizes of modularised biopower plants, or plants that produce heat only and this is something we are investigating alongside our clients and partners.”
Jorma concludes with MW Power’s key considerations for the years ahead and the challenges that lie along the way: “We will continue on enhancing our local presence and count on seamless partnership with locally operating partners. We have to be forward thinking – always looking for solutions that are economically sound but also clean and environmentally friendly. This where the challenge lies as many environmentally effective solutions are already technologically possible but are not yet economically viable. When discussing energy schemes the cycles are generations long, investments are enormous and technical lifetimes are long. Early enough made decisions and actions guarantee success and competitiveness.”