The technology group Wärtsilä first began its Africa operations in Tanzania back in 1975. Since then, the group has delivered more than 600 installations, supplied power plants in 46 countries, generating 25% of the national electricity supply in over 25 countries. Total installed capacity now exceeds 7,4 GW of which one-third is covered by operation and maintenance contracts. Today, Wärtsilä is the undisputed leader in the medium-speed power engine market in Africa.
This strong track record, built up over decades, has its roots in a dedicated local presence combined with the capability to bring together international expertise to build groundbreaking energy solutions.
Industry firsts in Africa
With more than 650 employees and service hubs located in Kenya, South Africa, and Senegal, Wärtsilä is proud to have contributed to many industry firsts. These include Africa’s largest gas engine power plant on the Kribi coast of Cameroon with 216 MW capacity, as well as Africa’s highest installation, the 175 MW power plant in Sasolburg, South Africa, sitting at 1700 m above sea level.
Another first, the KivuWatt power plant in Rwanda, is the first ever power plant to use the naturally occurring methane from lake Kivu to generate electricity and reduce the environmental risks associated with such high concentrations of gas. Today’s power output is 25 MW but future planned expansions to this project will increase capacity by an additional 75 MW.
Flexibility for every African energy need
The compny’s reciprocating gas engine technology and innovative energy management systems play an important role in response to Africa’s growing demand for flexible and reliable electricity. Small to medium size projects can be used to establish microgrids in remote regions. Their flexibility means that they can work hand in hand with renewable energy resources. Output can be ramped up at the same rate as wind or solar output fluctuates. One example is the 15 MWp hybrid engine-solar PV power plant for the Essakane gold mine in Burkina Faso: The combination of low-cost renewables with flexible engine solutions enables energy intensive industries to enter an era of more cost efficient and climate friendly operations.
Africa’s future, beyond energy
No single project is the same. As a leading international EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) company, Wärtsilä has a history of providing unique power solutions to meet the specific challenges of its clients as well as to extend educational and economic benefits to local communities when delivering on projects such as Tasiast in Mauritania and Ndola in Zambia “For Wärtsilä, EPC also means Experience, Proven and Compliant. These projects have helped several nations accelerate their development and increase their standard of living, not to forget the many jobs created across the continent. At the heart of each project is local engagement, training and transmission”, said Fabien Cadaut, the company’s marketing and communications manager.
This is why Wärtsilä has proudly joined forces with Ambitious.Africa, an initiative working to connect the youth of African and Nordic countries, to foster upcoming talent and co-create a more equal and sustainable future. Through this association, Wärtsilä can actively connect students, entrepreneurs, start-ups, financiers, and other stakeholders from across two continents and provide them with the knowledge, skills and training they need to bring about real and lasting change.
As another example, Wärtsilä provides local institutions in Senegal with hands-on training and support for talented students often struggling to find their place in working life, as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts.Another recent contribution was made in support of solar energy unit installations in informal settlements in the Western Cape. The households in these settlements are either connected to an illegal and unsafe electricity source or have no access to basic electricity.
As recent contracts such as the 120 MW power plant project in Gabon, the 90 MW gas conversion project in Senegal, and renewed O&M contracts in Nigeria demonstrate, Wärtsilä is committed to accelerate broad-based electrification across Africa.