Africa’s largest gas engine power plant set for Cameroon

WARTSILA HAS SIGNED a contract to supply and install the largest gas engine power plant ever to be installed on the African continent.

The power plant will be located in Kribi, a sea port lying on the Gulf of Guinea coast in the Republic of Cameroon. The contract for this turnkey project is valued at approximately US$159 mn. The power plant is scheduled to be commissioned and operational before the end of 2011.

The order for this power plant project has been placed by the Independent Power Producer (IPP), Kribi Power Development Company (KPDC), an affiliate of AES Corporation. The power will be distributed to more than half a million consumers by AES SONEL, the privatised electric utility of Cameroon.

The scope of supply includes Wärtsilä 18V50DF dual-fuel engines that will run primarily on gas, making this the largest gas engine power plant ever to be installed on the African continent. The electricity generated will be fed to the national grid.

“There were a number of factors behind winning this contract,” commented Arnaud Gouet, General Manager, Wärtsilä Power Plants in South Africa. “The open cycle efficiency of our solution at any required load, its economical superiority and the flexibility of the dual-fuel engines all proved to be critical to the decision making process. We are proud to have been selected for this landmark project installation.”

The new power plant is needed in order to meet the increasing demand for power in the country. Furthermore, it will help diversify Cameroon’s power generation, which is predominantly based on hydro-power. Also, with the added capacity, old, inefficient thermal power plants can be closed, thereby reducing the environmental impact of the country’s electricity generation, including carbon emissions.

“Once again, the flexibility and operational cost advantages offered by Wärtsilä’s dual-fuel engines are being recognised on a global scale. The Cameroon national grid is primarily driven by hydropower, which is obviously a fluctuating energy source. Our engines provide that critical support flexibility that allows the customer to adapt to these grid load variations and enhance the reliability of the electricity supply system, especially during the dry season. Furthermore, the utility is able to switch operation of the Wärtsilä engines from gas to light fuel oil during maintenance of the gas supply platform”, Mr Gouet continues.

It is estimated that the construction of the power plant will create more than 500 jobs for local workers, and its operation will require the training of more than 60 skilled workers.

This project follows the December 2009 inauguration of the 86 MW Dibamba power plant in Yassa, Cameroon, which utilises eight Wärtsilä 18V38 engines for its electricity generation. The Kribi project will bring the total power output supplied by Wärtsilä engines in Cameroon to nearly 450 MW.

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