Renewable-as-baseload strategy can fix Nigeria’s power sector
Wale Yusuff, Managing Director of Wärtsilä Nigeria, 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. According to this global energy player, 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.
According to Wärtsilä, 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. This can be implemented through what the company calls a Renewable Baseload Strategy. 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.
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.
Wärtsilä 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," explains Yusuff.
Not only is it more sustainable going forward, but it is also more cost-effective, says the company. 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.
As a global energy system integrator with major international expertise and 15 years of experience in the Nigerian Energy Sector, Wärtsilä has a 360-degree view of the country’s power issues. “It is well-known that Nigeria is grappling with chronic power failures, as well as conventional power plants that operate at a fraction of their potential capacity. Much like the rest of West Africa, the country is racing against the lack of power, but also the lack of clean energy. In this context, it is time to rethink the way we have done things in the past and adopt a new forward-looking and sustainable power generation strategy. Today we are still far away from a 100% renewable energy future. However, renewables are already starting to become the new baseload in other markets like Europe, pushing inflexible conventional power generation out of the system," said Yusuff.
The Nigeria Electrification Roadmap (NER) 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 organized way and with a robust selection based on injection points and tariff competitiveness.
”Wärtsilä is a nearly 200 years old company, so needless to say, we have seen it all. As an Energy System Integrator with 70 GW of installed power plant capacity in 177 countries around the world and power plants delivered in 46 of 54 African countries, we understand Africa’s power requirements better than most. It is clear to us that ultra-flexible engine-based power plants tailored according to the specific requirements of the country are key to improving to the Nigerian power system. It is the only strategy able to offer the highest degree of flexibility, enabling major savings, and creating an optimised response to rapid changes in intermittent renewable power generation," he said.
The company has presented its Renewable Baseload strategy in its whitepaper “Path towards a 100% renewable energy future”, that lays out a credible way to reach a fully green energy mix.