São Paulo World Trade Center Generates Reliable Peaking Power

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff June 27, 2006

Brazil’s soccer team has demonstrated its “power reliability” in this year’s World Cup competition. (They just made it through the second round today.) Back home, there is another type of power reliability story to tell.

The São PauloWorldTradeCenter opened in 1995. The 1.75-million-sq.-ft. all-in-one complex includes the state-of-the-art WTCBusinessTower, the Hotel Gran Meliá São Paulo WTC and one of Latin America’s most upscale malls, the D&D shopping center. To help ensure reliable and low-cost power to the facility, its standby power supplier provided three gas-powered generator sets to reduce the cost of energy during the peak demand period and to guarantee power availability to the complex in the event of a utility outage or power crisis.

Since 2003, the power system has reduced electricity costs and improved reliability to such an extent that the WTC promotes the power system in its advertising for tenants.

São Paulo is located in the southeast corner of Brazil and is the capital of the state of the same name.A population of 18 million residents makes São Paulo the largest city in South America and the second largest city in the world. The city is considered to be the economic and financial center ofSouth America.

What sets the WTC São Paulo apart is the combination of size and sophistication. It is one of the largest commercial buildings in the world, while its design makes the complex one of only six world trade centers–out of 330 worldwide–to receive Silver Certification by the World Trade Center Association (WTCA), the organization’s highest endorsement.

The WTCTower strikes a perfect balance between work and play. The building has 25 floors of office space equipped with modern telecommunications equipment, board and meeting rooms and an automated building control system that allows remote premises management. The control system also manages maintenance tasks as well as lighting, elevators, alarms and air conditioning.

To provide peaking power for the enormous structure, the WTC São Paulo relies on three1.75-MW lean-burn gas generator sets for a total generating capacity of 5.25 MW, enough to power a city of 5,000 residents. “Since the building is located in a commercial and residential zone, only natural gas-fueled power plants are approved by the environmental agency,” notes Ferdinando Mugnato, general manager of WTC São Paulo.

Moreover, a digital master control operates the power plant, switchgear, transformers, transfer switches and a diesel generator with “black start” capability to ensure the system is able to start during a total power outage.

“One of the biggest obstacles to installing the generators in the building was the relatively small space we had to work with,” says Mugnato. The solution was to

spread the components of the power system over three separate floors.

“The generators are on the first two floors, and the switchgear and other equipment are on the third,” he says.

The main purpose of installing the generators was to reduce costs during peak times when electricity rates are at a premium.“Here in Brazil the cost of energy during the peak times of the day is much higher than off-peak times.For three hours a day in the late afternoon and early evening, the price of energy to commercial users is very high,” explains Mugnato.

The gensets run Monday through Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the summer and from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the winter. During that time, the typical load on the generators varies from 3.5 MW to 4.9 MW, depending on which facilities are in use. “By being able to produce our own power, we are able to save as much as 30%.”

But another purpose of the generators is to provide consistent and reliable power. Utility power in Brazil is not very reliable, and there are often outages and fluctuations in voltage that affect equipment inside the building. Brazil has also suffered energy shortages in the past when rainfall has not been sufficient to support its largely hydroelectric generation systems.

“When the generators are running during the peak hours, they are paralleled with the local utility,” explains Mugnato. “If there is a utility failure, then the generators are automatically isolated from the grid and provide power independently to the WTC São Paulo.”

In the event of a major utility power outage, the installed generators are capable of powering the entire building. However, some load shedding would be required at certain periods of the day.

For more about lean-burn gas generators from Cummins Power Generation, click here .