Deputatsky is a small town tucked away in the middle of nowhere in northeastern Siberia. 3,000 people live there, cut off from everything – including public electricity. In winter, temperatures plunge to -65° C. The people used to mine tin here, but that is no longer viable. The town is too far off the beaten track. It is surrounded by swamps and the Verkhoyansk mountain range, and can only be reached in summer by airplane, and in winter by a frozen ice-track.
In this inhospitable environment, reliable electricity supplies are produced by generating sets powered by three MTU engines. They are the main source of power in this town, apart from a coal-fired power station which is hardly ever used. Together, they produce nearly 6,000 kilowatts of mechanical power. The heat given off is also used for heating. Local grid company AO Sachaenergo has provided a special container to house the units. Preheaters and a double layer of insulation ensure temperatures inside the container never fall below 15° C. One of the three engines recently had to be replaced. The grid operator ordered a new MTU engine via the local dealer, Entech. Getting the engine to the icy isolation of Siberia proved a major logistical undertaking.
The leg from Friedrichshafen to Moscow by road was standard fare, but then the adventure really began: The 4,140 kilometers truck journey to Krasnoyarsk took five days, and there the engine was put on a plane, a 1972 Antonov An-12, for the remaining 3,000-kilometer haul to Deputatsky. The idea had been to fly directly, but that plan had to be changed because the destination airfield did not have enough kerosene on hand for the return journey. The solution was to refuel the aircraft en route in Yakutsk before the final leg to Deputatsky – which was delayed by two days because the airfield in Deputatsky is closed at weekends, and Arctic winds prevented an earlier departure. Once there, the grid company workers unloaded the engine with the aid of a tractor, a crane and a truck – there are no forklift trucks in Deputatsky.
“Like the other two MTU engines, this one also runs economically and, above all, reliably. Those are qualities we need out here in this faraway region,” said Alexey Khartikov, Chief Engineer at the operating company.