Coal-fired power generation remains an important component of Africa’s energy landscape. Air-quality control solutions are key to preserving clean air and quality of life, says Webb Meko, Business Development Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Black & Veatch
Johannesburg, 21 August 2018 – According to the World Bank, six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, the region is among the world’s least electrified. Members of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) have a total installed capacity of approximately 58 GW and according to the International Energy Agency’s Africa Energy Outlook energy demand on the continent is expected to quadruple to roughly 385 GW by 2040.
Furthermore, environmental requirements continue to push the global energy sector towards lower-emission resources to power the world. Some experts suggest the global energy mix will comprise of equal parts thermal, nuclear, renewables and hydroelectricity by 2050. Energy generation in Southern Africa, in particular, is expected to follow a similar mix.
South Africa generates over 80% of the electricity within the SAPP, primarily with coal-fired power plants. Though other technologies are being developed to help diversify the region’s energy mix and take advantage of the expanding availability of natural gas, coal-fired power plants are expected to remain the dominant generation fuel for decades to come. This is driven largely by coal’s cost-effectiveness, availability of local coal resources, job and skills training opportunities as well as the ability to produce a large amounts of baseload power to support economic development.
Therefore, addressing Africa’s energy needs and complying with environmental requirements further the deployment of clean energy technologies and implementation of air-quality control (AQC) technologies at existing and new build coal-fired power stations.
Operating coal-fired power plants have pressure to comply with existing and future environmental regulations, and new build coal-fired power projects in development also need to meet these standards to gain support from governments and the public. Both scenarios point to the importance of AQC technologies in continuing to generate reliable baseload power, extend the life of existing facilities and enable the continued use of coal-based technology with new projects.
AQC technologies are central elements of new-build programmes and offer the flexibility to be part of retrofit programmes at operating coal-fired power stations across the globe. These technologies have been proven to significantly reduce sulphur dioxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and particulate matter (PM), all of which impact air-quality.
Black & Veatch’s decades of AQC expertise highlights the need for proactive and holistic programme planning early in the project development phase for smooth implementation later on. This includes first determining the best AQC solutions and approaches that experienced engineers and others will implement to ensure regulatory compliance as well as predictable execution outcomes and the lowest lifecycle cost - key indicators of successful AQC projects.
Tremendous gains have been made in AQC technology over the past several decades with state-of-the-art AQC technologies widely available and being deployed. When projects are effectively planned and implemented, retrofit projects can successfully be completed on existing power projects with minimal outage duration.
Through careful project planning, owners can assess, evaluate and mitigate any risks that will impact the cost, schedule, and performance of AQC projects to ultimately yield the lowest lifecycle cost for the project. In addition, understanding project scope, addressing site- and project-specific challenges, developing robust project or programme execution plans that identify and mitigate risks, and implementing AQC projects effectively will address Africa’s electricity and environmental needs.
Black & Veatch has been planning and implementing world-class infrastructure projects in Africa for more than 50 years.
Black & Veatch South Africa, an entity of Black & Veatch that was created in August 2015, is headquartered in Johannesburg. The local subsidiary reflects Black & Veatch’s commitment to providing reliable infrastructure solutions to improve lives in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Black & Veatch completed Ghana’s first IPP gas-fired simple cycle EPC project supported by US investment. The Takoradi Power Facility provides electricity to address the country’s residential and industrial power needs, offsetting electricity shortages due to periodic drought conditions.
Black & Veatch is currently supporting a 4,800 MW supercritical coal-fired power mega project in South Africa. It is one of the largest energy infrastructure projects under construction in the world, supported by a comprehensive skills and knowledge transfer program. Once completed, the project will provide reliable electricity for South Africa well into the future.
Black & Veatch provided development support for a planned 3,600 MW subcritical minemouth power station in Botswana to ensure reliable energy and increase domestic coal consumption. A portion of the power generated from the facility was planned for export to South Africa.
Black & Veatch supported the development and design of the Sere Wind Energy Project in Western Cape South Africa.
About Black & Veatch
Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government Services. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries through consulting, engineering, construction, operations and program management. Our revenues in 2017 were US$3.4 billion. Follow us on www.bv.com and in social media.
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