Facts and Figures

Engine Power Plants Manufacturing:
A dynamic EU-based Business Sector

● 10,000 employees
● € 1 billion turnover
● 3 GW new capacity installed in the EU

The various engine types available on the market are covering a broad output range, between 6 kW and 21 MW. Engine power plants are a reliable proven technology: Already more than 30 GW capacity has been installed in the EU.

Engine power plants are a well-developed technology to generate electricity and often additional thermal energy. Their main advantages are the very short start-up and ramp-up times, the solid reliable technology and the ability to run on different fuels.


Reliable Technology

Typical engine power plants consist of the following main components:

  • Internal combustion engine (ICE)
  • Alternator for producing electricity
  • Heat exchanger: Used for thermal power
The internal combustion engine can either be a spark ignition engine (e.g. gas engine) or a compression engine (e.g. diesel engine). While in smaller engine power plants often modified engines designed for cars and trucks are used, larger plants above 1 MW often use modified ship engines. Most engines run on natural gas, but the engines can be optimised for many other gaseous or liquid fuels. The technology is proven and optimised for regular load changes.

The alternator transforms the mechanical energy into electrical energy. Via the use of an additional supercharger a larger amount of compressed air can be supplied to the engine and by this the power output can be increased. Depending on the target to deliver electricity to the general electricity grid or operating in island mode the technology differs. In conventional
large power plants as well as in engine driven vehicles less than half of the fuel is used for energy generation while the remaining share is unused exhaust or engine heat.


In conventional large power plants as well as in engine driven vehicles less than half of the fuel is used for energy generation while the remaining share is unused exhaust or engine heat. In engine power plants this heat is often used for generating additional thermal power – widely known as cogeneration. As heat from exhaust gas is between 350°C and 500°C and the engine cooling water which has a tempera- ture of around 900C are normally in separate circuits transformed via heat exchangers into heating or cooling purposes or via a steam turbine into additional electricity.

From S to XXL – Available in all Sizes

One of the large advantages of the engine power plant technology is the sizeability. While the smallest cogeneration plants are available from 3 kW electrical power upwards the large electricity-only plants can generate today up to 600 MW. The small units are normally built as compact all-in-one units. In the medium range of 0.5 to 2 MW often all components are packaged into a turn-key power module for remote applications, emergency power solutions or mobile applications.

The larger plants are built in a modular approach, combining several engines, that can be started according to demand. The single engines can provide electrical power up to 20 MW per unit and are normally four-stroke engines. Due to the modularity they avoid partload inefficiencies and ensure availability. They can provide base-load power as well as balancing power and can replace conventional power plants.


Whatever fuel – they take it

The engines used can be optimised for a wide variety of fuels from liquid to gaseous, depending on the availability, purpose and environmental considerations. Among the fossil fuels the most used for engine power plants is natural gas. Natural gas has the lowest CO2 emissions of the fossil fuels and therefore contributes to further decarbonisation of the energy sector.

However, if circumstances require it, e.g. at remote places, diesel or gas can be used to run the engines. Other appropriate fossil fuels are propane or special gases e.g. from coal mines. Engine power plants are not limited to fossil fuels, but can burn rene- wables such as biogas and biodiesel.