Greater access to more abundant, reliable power is critical to unlocking Africa’s potential, according to global engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company Black & Veatch. Opportunities to harness the continent's vast renewable energy and natural gas resources as well as new technologies adding flexibility and resilience to power networks were the key items discussed by the company’s experts at the 2016 PowerGEN Africa conference. The conference’s three featured papers highlighted Black & Veatch’s views on developments in gas-to-power, distributed generation, and conventional power, including how each can play a role in addressing Africa’s energy needs.
A paper co-authored with Eskom discussing lessons learned from the development of the Kusile power station was also presented at PowerGEN Africa. “Approaches to power generation must continue to evolve as the need for reliable, cleaner and affordable sources of energy remains urgent across the region,” says Webb Meko, Business Development Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Black & Veatch. “As a company we are furthering conventional power projects and incorporating alternative energy sources that provide cost, schedule, and environmental benefits – and we are keen to again share our knowledge and best practices in this forum,” Meko added. Jason Abiecunas, Black & Veatch Distributed Generation Service Area Lead, presented an enhanced view of his award-winning paper, ‘The Critical Role of Distributed Generation for Reliable, Affordable Power Systems’.
He shared that microgrids, or ‘small distributed energy’, are advantageous for the African continent and other regions worldwide.
Abiecunas said: “We foresee continued growth throughout Africa with distributed energy solutions serving as a complement to traditional power plant development and expansion.”
He added that industry and people throughout the region will greatly benefit from their application, saying: “These systems will bring needed power to remote locations, support critical facilities and help Africa achieve its overall emission targets.” Other company experts also participated: Black & Veatch Vice President of Liquefied Natural Gas Technologies Shawn Hoffart presented a paper that he and Associate Vice President of Technology Alap Shah co-authored, titled ‘Maximising the Synergies of LNG Import and Natural Gas Based Power Facilities to Meet Demand’. Also on hand was Black & Veatch’s Associate Vice President and Power Generation Services Project Manager, Phil Webster who covered the topic ‘Integrating Conventional Generation Into Power Markets of the 21st Century’. He emphasised the importance of integrating conventional and renewable energy to help address Africa’s power demand. He said: “Our team works closely with clients in Africa and around the world to plan and implement the most advanced technology and construction solutions to address global power, oil and gas, water, and telecom needs.”