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Sentinel Power Plant

Sentinel Power Station

With the help of 3D design, Mott MacDonald engineered a gas-fired power plant that provides supplemental power for a major wind farm. This flexible fast-start plant provides real-time information and can be controlled from a central control room.

A fast-start plant balances the supply of renewable energy

Gemma Power Systems / Palm Desert, California


Competitive Power Ventures operates a cluster of 3,000 wind turbines in the arid California desert. However, the facility needs supplemental power to balance out troughs in the supply of wind energy, and to meet peak demand in the summer.


Mott MacDonald provided the complete design and engineering for an 800-megawatt simple-cycle gas-fired power plant, plus a 12-breaker 230-kilovolt switchyard and interconnection with Southern California Edison.

Mott MacDonald's mechanical engineering team prepared general arrangement drawings, piping and instrumentation diagrams, piping drawings, and equipment specifications. The major mechanical systems include the gas turbines with evaporative cooling, exhaust housing, gas compressors, zero-discharge wastewater system, fire protection, and a demineralized water system. The design was generated with Mott MacDonald’s 3D design package.

Mott MacDonald's controls engineers implemented a PLC-based control system to integrate the gas turbines' control system, the switchyard’s remote terminal unit, and several additional PLC control systems.


The plant uses eight “aeroderivative” turbines, similar to those used in aircraft and ships. Lighter and faster-starting than industrial turbines, they were crucial to achieving the rapid-start requirement of the facility — just 10 minutes from zero load to power supply. The turbines also satisfied criteria for flexibility, as the plant had to be able to vary its production between 50 and 800 megawatts.

The integrated system allows operators to control the plant from a central control room. The fiber optic communications system is designed to provide real time information to the Owner's power marketers, as well as metering and control information to the interconnecting utility.

Commercial operation began in May 2013.

wind turbines
minutes from zero load
to power supply
50 to 800
megawatts of power

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