PITTSBURGH – Wabtec has come up with a creative way to produce power at its Grove City, Pa., engine plant: It’s tapping the electricity generated during testing of the thousands of new locomotive and marine engines the factory builds each year.
Wabtec tests up to 3,000 engines at the Grove City plant annually, with each engine generating between 1.8 and 4.7 megawatts while undergoing testing. Over the course of a year, the combined power output of the new engines is enough to provide 40% of the plant’s power or to produce enough energy to power 1,000 homes.
Wabtec is now tapping the 9.8 gigawatt hours of power produced annually rather than simply burning it off the energy as heat.
“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.”
Wabtec 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,” Thomas said. “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.”