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GE Transportation Keeps the Lights on for Easter Island

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While much about the famous giant stone heads remains a mystery, there’s no question who powers Easter Island -- GE Transportation.

Easter Island is one of the most remote locations on the planet.  The triangular shaped island sits isolated in the South Pacific Ocean below the Tropic of Capricorn. Some of its nearest neighbors are Chile at a distance of about 2,000 miles away and Tahiti at 2,600 miles.  Not an easy place to get to quickly.

The island was declared a World Heritage Site in the 1990s for its more than 880 giant stone head sculptures called “moai” that weigh an average of 20 tons each.

But there also was trouble the past several years in paradise with failing power generation.  The incumbent small high-speed generator engines simply did not have the capacity, durability and reliability that were needed.  Way too many black outs.  And the delays in getting expertise and parts to fix breakdowns in this remote corner meant even longer down times.

A change was needed.  The island’s government-owned utility company chose a GE Transportation Stationary Power Genset as the way of the future.   GE Transportation’s Chilean partner, Maestranza Diesel, supplied a complete electrical power station driven by a GE Transportation L250 inline six-cylinder medium-speed diesel engine. 

The L250 engine can deliver 1.664 kw at 1,000 rpm, and serves as a major power supply for the entire island.  The highly reliable engine designed with GE’s  Evolution technology also uses up to 25% less fuel than the previous system—a huge advantage when your fuel is supplied by an ocean tanker all the way from Chile!

Sounds simple so far – just upgrade with the leading technology to solve the problem.  But there was one other major challenge.  Easter Island has no commercial ports that could handle the offloading of a generator this size.   Just as the early islanders were faced with the challenge of moving the multi-ton moai, the new  32-ton generator posed as similar problem.

But Maestranza Diesel solved the problem just like the old “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  Maestranza brought in the entire generator system one piece at a time through the small seaside landings and reassembled the entire unit on location! 

The new genset started operation in late 2013 and, the island’s utility company is pleased with the performance to the extent that they expressed interest in acquiring two more GE Transportation engines in the near future.

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