Wabtec’s site in Grove City, Pennsylvania is one of the country’s premier diesel engine manufacturing plants. The team builds thousands of engines each year for locomotives and marine applications. In addition to those engines, the site now is producing a new product – power.
The plant’s engine testing offers the opportunity to reduce the site’s dependence on the electric utility, potentially deliver some excess power back to the grid. The Grove City team tests up to 3,000 diesel engines annually. Depending on the engine type, each engine could generate between 1.8 to 4.7 megawatts. Over the course of a year, that is a lot of power, which until recently was being wasted and burned off as heat rather than being harnessed and used.
“As part of Wabtec’s sustainability journey, we are focused on reducing energy consumption at our operations around the world,” said Marty Thomas, Vice President of Wabtec’s Services Operations. “Our local Grove City Manufacturing team brainstormed ideas working with power utilities, local and state governments to identify projects to reduce energy consumption at the engine plant. We identified a tremendous opportunity to find a way to use previously wasted energy from the engine test cells to power the site and potentially send power back to the grid.”
The team developed an engineering plan and acquired the necessary hardware to upgrade the six engine test cells at the plant. Now, the cells can capture and use the energy generated while testing. The energy recovery has the potential to be shared between plant consumption and power returned to the grid.
“Our energy recovery project is a creative solution that benefits the environment, the company and the local power grid,” said Thomas. “It helps power the plant and reduces the reliance on energy from the utilities. It also frees up energy for other utility customers and potentially feeds excess power to the grid, which is critical during times when high energy demands stress the utilities’ electrical systems.”
This upgrade will enable the plant to generate up to 9.8-gigawatt hours (GWh) of power annually. It is enough energy to power 1,000 homes. That power generation can be redirected to address more than 40% of the Grove City site electrical usage. It also reduces utility costs by 40%.
The initiative at Grove City is just one example of innovative approaches that the company is taking to reduce energy consumption. Wabtec is committed to be part of the solution to slow climate change by taking action within its operations worldwide.