On the margin of Future Energy Nigeria in November this year, we took some time to discuss with Wärtsilä Managing Director. We asked few questions about:
- His company
- The reason for the capacity problem of Nigeria
- Renewables as baseload strategy
- How Wärtsilä is leading the way towards energy transition.
Listen to the Live Interview? Click HERE.
RiA (Q1): Hello Wale, can you introduce yourself very briefly please?
WY (A1): Thank you very much. My name is Wale Yusuff and I am the MD for Wärtsilä Marine and Power Services Nigeria Limited. Wärtsilä is a smart technologies company that provides life cycle services for energy and the marine business and what Wärtsilä has….. Let me keep it there because I know whatever I say will be an answer to some of the questions that you are going to ask later.
RiA (Q2): First question for me: we are here in Nigeria, the biggest economy in the continent. We also know the capacity is very low in Nigeria. In simple terms, why?
WY (A2): I think the answer is obvious to everybody. Number one, the infrastructure gap is there. Number two: the unavailability of reliable grid for the v traditional power generation system. Also, in my opinion, we have not fully utilized the different sources of energy that we have in Nigeria to generate electricity. Focus has always been on thermal. Between thermal and hydro.
RiA (Q3): Two years ago, I wrote a book advocating for a renewable energy based load strategy and I know that’s something you are also defending and I wanted to understand from you why you think it’s part of the answer.
WY (A3): Because when we look at the world now where we are, You and I are standing here. We’re supposed to be feeling the ocean breeze but I don’t think we’re feeling anything. It is very hot. Something is already happening to our climate and then if this is what it is, then we need to start taking a conscious effort from now.
Probably the contribution to the climate change has been mainly because of the emissions and power generation from fossil fuel. You have all the little bits to make sure that we can get cleaner environment; how do we start that? In my own opinion it starts by trying to cut down on the emissions, look at the source of power generations, trying to go renewable. Yes, hydro has been utilized but also again beyond Hydro; we have wind, we have solar. I think we should start going more into the direction of this to cut down on these greenhouse gas emissions.
So this is where my thoughts resonate with trying to integrate a renewable with traditional power system. It will not happen in one day. As a company, Wärtsilä has envisioned a vision of 100% renewable energy future; but we know that it will not happen immediately. Renewables would not really be able to be on its own; we need to integrate renewables with traditional power systems.
When we get to the point where fossil batteries become more reasonable; then the switch can continue to move from engines to solar and then to batteries and then maybe we can get to that 100% renewable energy, one day.
RiA (Q4): You obviously know very well the Nigerian Market and also the African Market; according to you; is there a real willingness for the private sector to change the situation in Nigeria?
WY (A4): Yes, I think so. If you look at the government, there is a 30/30 energy Vision by the country and this is to achieve 30% renewable of the total energy generation by the year 2030. The government has taken a step in that direction already.
The private sector is also key into that. We see the collaboration between the government, the private sector and the banks to make sure that many mini-grids are being developed now. These many mini-grids are 100% solar.
With all of this private people trying to create a mini grid in Abuja and other parts. For me, this is a sign that, yes, the private sector also is ready for this journey. They’re not just ready but they’ve started already. There’s a future, but of course we also know that Nigeria is a gas rich country. So it would be a journey.
RiA (Q5): You are the country’s Managing Director of this wonderful company, Wärtsilä. How is Wärtsilä leading the way into this new transition?
WY (A5): This is a good question. I think that the good thing about Wärtsilä is that we consider ourselves as a company of not just sayers but doers. When we say that we envision a 100% renewable energy in the future; I think that one of the greatest step that Wärtsilä has done is to have acquired an American company, Greensmith integrating renewables with traditional power plants. We’ve done a couple of projects together. The most popular one is a 15 MW solar supply in Burkina Faso, Essakane Solar, integrated with an existing 55 megawatts power plants and then this on the load profile. So Wärtsilä is not just saying it. We have started already.
Apart from just integrating solar with engine power plant; we are also able to integrate with the battery system as well. So it depends on the customer load profile at the end of the day. Maybe it’s just PV engine or PV engine battery.
RiA (Q6): Wärtsilä, in a nutshell, is not just leading with words but also with action
WY (A6): Yes, that’s correct.
RiA (Q7): 10 years from now because Wärtsilä is leading by actions. What commitment can you make to the youth of this nation that you’ll achieve?
WY (A7): Maybe not a commitment on behalf of the company for sure, but again I think in my own personal capacity, and with what I see, with the strides that I see that the government is making, the kind of solutions that I see we’re rolling out, in the next 10 years we would not be talking about a journey towards a 100% renewable energy future. We would have been on the journey already. We would already be on the journey, maybe not 100% yet but again we would have helped the country to achieve a balance between renewables and our gas power plants.
For the youths, we now have availability of power, light and job creation. With job creation you have more employment and the economy grows. Therefore, people in school now; in 10 years they can hope that with this kind of companies around and with this kind of solutions, the future is bright. The future is bright because the opportunities that are out there can be harnessed.
RiA (Q8): So I was speaking to Mr. Wale Yusuff, Managing Director of Wärtsilä in Nigeria. It was a pleasure to capture your sentiments and your positivity for Nigeria but also for the whole continent. So thank you for speaking to us and have a great rest of the forum. Thank you very much.
WY(A8): Thank you very much. Nice speaking with you. I am always open to talk.
Listen to the interview HERE
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Article edited for clarity.