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Back-up for Hydro-Electric Power in Costa Rica

First stationary Westfalia Separator® eagleclass installation 

The small country in Central America, Costa Rica, is a pioneer in terms of environmental protection and sustainability throughout the world. In Garabito on the Pacific coast near the city of Puntarenas in the south-west of the country, a diesel power station has now been built under the management of the large-engine manufacturer MAN Diesel & Turbo SE.

Processing of lubricating oil and heavy fuel oil

The installation, with eleven MAN diesel engines, is used as a back-up installation for a hydro-electric power station and can supply 200 MW of electricity into the grid of Costa Rica. The installation also comprises systems from GEA Westfalia Separator Group for processing lubricating oil and heavy fuel oil. The machines used for this purpose are the initial models of the Westfalia Separator® eagleclass, which are used in the stationary field. This largest diesel power station of Costa Rica alone can handle up to 10 percent of the supplies for the entire country.

The latest project is the „Garabito“ diesel power station on the Pacific coast. Since 2010, the back-up installation built by MAN for a hydro-electric power station has been using eleven MAN diesel engines to supply 200 MW of electricity into the Costa Rican grid.

“We will be a carbon-neutral country“

President Oscar Arias Sánchez confidently formulated his ambitious objectives in 2007: “By the year 2021, Costa Rica‘s 200th birthday, we will be a carbon-neutral country.” According to the government, the aim of attaining the zero line in terms of carbon output is to be achieved by various means, including the policy of shutting down coal-fired power stations. In addition, hybrid cars are to be encouraged, and agricultural and industrial emissions are to be reduced. As a result of its high environmental standards, Costa Rica is also known as the “Switzerland of Central America”. Costa Rica is undergoing a process of economic structural change, moving away from being an originally very agricultural-based country and is now becoming a service and industrialised country. At present, the country‘s main currency generator is tourism, and in particular eco-tourism. The high-tech sector is also being expanded. Industry in the economy, which is also politically stable, overall contributes more than one quarter to gross domestic product. This has a direct impact on the energy requirement, which is constantly increasing. More than 90 percent of electricity is generated by solar power, wind power and in particular: hydroelectric power. Hydroelectric power alone is responsible for approximately four fifths of total power generation. Although nationwide power supplies in Costa Rica are particularly reliable in terms of a Central American comparison, there are still problems in certain cases. The country therefore intends to reliably cover the constantly increasing demand for electricity by constructing small power stations, which use renewable energies. Back-up diesel power stations also provide cover for any supply shortages, which may arise particularly in the dry periods.

Complete fuel processing installation for the 200 MW diesel power station

The GEA Westfalia Separator Group Energy Business Line won the order for the Pacific coast's latest “Garabito” diesel power station project, to supply a complete fuel processing system consisting of three turnkey Energy Compact Units, each with 6 high-performance type OSE 80 Separators for the efficient processing of heavy fuel oil, and 11 additional type OSE 20 Separators for processing lubricating oil and the associated peripheral equipment. GEA Westfalia Separator Group, as an expert system provider, made a significant contribution with this project to the energy supply.

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Clean energy complies with emission requirements

The power station in Garabito consists of eleven medium-speed diesel generators, each with an installed capacity of between 16 and 20 Megawatts. In conjunction with the combustion of the 18V48 / 60 four-stroke engines, which are already very clean - the most powerful four-stroke units in the product range of the engine manufacturer - the installation in Garabito is equipped with modern gas scrubbing systems, and thus complies with the strict emission requirements of Costa Rica and the World Bank.


Costa Rica invests in sustainable solutions and environmental compatibility for tourism, which is one of the major sources of income of the country, and also in the case of major investments. The Garabito project is a major component in the state project of setting up new power generation capacities in Costa Rica and assuring the power supplies of the country. The power generation of the back-up power station in Garabito represents a major addition to the seasonally fluctuating power generation from hydroelectric power.

Westfalia Separator® eagleclass for power station construction

For the first time, the use of separators allows cheaper fuels to be used in power stations for generating energy. They remove impurities, such as water and abrasive solids, from residual oils. Contamination in fuels represents a major source of risk for the trouble-free operation of diesel power stations. If these oils are used in the diesel engine without having been processed previously, this can result in serious wear in injection nozzles, fuel pumps, cylinder liners and pistons. And the quality of the heavy fuel oil remaining after crude oil has been processed is constantly deteriorating. This means that the new Westfalia Separator® eagleclass has been launched on the market just in time for power station construction. The first stationary separators of this series are being used in Garabito.

Separators from the OSE series

In addition to the higher throughput capacity and less expensive operation, the new OSE series is also more technologically advanced, so that they can more easily meet the requirements of fuels, which are becoming increasingly complex. Thanks to its innovative features, the OSE 80 in particular is very suitable for coping with the higher throughput capacities, as well as the lower fuel qualities. The Westfalia Separator® eagleclass represents considerable progress particularly for engine-driven power stations.

Separator OSE 80

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