Performance of an actual Diesel engine power plant with a rated output of 120 MW is analyzed based on the first and second laws of thermodynamics. The plant consists of seven identical Diesel engines and various subsystems including turbochargers, fuel heating units and heat exchangers performing various useful tasks. The engine runs on heavy fuel oil, and the pollutant emissions from the engine are greatly reduced by effective treatment systems. The characteristics and performance parameters of the internal combustion engines of the plant are evaluated. The mass, energy and exergy balances are verified for each flow stream in the power plant. The work and heat interactions, the exergy losses and the efficiencies of various components based on both energy and exergy concepts are evaluated. The thermal and the exergy efficiencies of the plant are determined to be 47% and 44%, respectively. The engine irreversibilities are due mostly to the irreversible combustion process and account for 32% of the total exergy input and 57% of the total irreversibilities in the plant. Most of the remaining irreversibilities in the plant occur in the desulphurization, intercooler, compressor and lubrication oil cooler units. The results should provide a realistic and meaningful ground for the performance evaluation of Diesel engine power units, and it may be used in the design and analysis of such systems. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.