Renewable baseload strategy can fix Nigeria’s power sector –Wale Yusuff

The Managing Director of Wartsila Nigeria, Wale Yusuff, says it is time to question the suitability of a traditional approach to power generation that has clearly shown its limits and is no longer fitted to unleash Nigeria’s clean energy potential.

In a press statement, Mr Yusuff noted that flexible power systems will be instrumental in significantly lowering electricity costs, improving system reliability, as well as boosting the share of renewable energy in the Nigerian power mix.

He added that Nigeria is in a position to take advantage of its vast renewable energy potential and resolve most of its power system problems in an economical way. He said this can be implemented through what the company calls a Renewable Baseload Strategy; adding that in this new approach, traditional Gas-to-Power plants will provide the needed flexibility to integrate a large share of renewable energy in parallel, thereby securing power system reliability.

According to the statement, Mr Yusuff noted that the power mix as currently envisaged in Nigeria’s Vision 2030, with a 30% share of renewable energy as well as a sizable share of thermal-based power, is a robust and appropriate mix for the country. But in this context, the high flexibility and efficiency offered by reciprocating engines technology (as opposed to regular gas turbines) will be a definite must, especially considering the current state of its power sector and the need for future renewable energy penetration in the mix.

“Wartsila supports that strategy by both venturing into renewables and developing a large fleet of medium-size Gas-to-Power plants: On one hand, Nigeria has abundant natural gas resources as well as considerable, but intermittent, solar energy resources waiting to be tapped. On the other hand, it is plagued with chronic power shortages. With this in mind, it becomes clear that the best way forward is to build base load energy capacities that can work seamlessly with renewables. That’s why we believe that Gas-to-Power technology is such a true game changer for the country. The ultimate solution is to use utility-scale solar power plants integrated with engine power plants and energy storage,” the statement read.

It added in parts that: “Not only is it more sustainable going forward, but it is also more cost-effective... Detailed cost analysis has shown that renewables combined with flexible engine-based power plants are more economical than traditional baseload energy solutions, with a total cost of electricity up to 24% lower. Inflexibility has a cost by limiting how much cheap renewable energy can be economically integrated to the system.

“The Nigeria Electrification Roadmap aims to reach 11,000 megawatts by 2023. This target is achievable if the most advanced Gas-to-Power projects are given the go ahead to complete their development in an organised way and with a robust selection based on injection points and tariff competitiveness.”