Toshiba signs MoUs to support African hydropower, geothermal roll-out

18th May 2018 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

Energy systems multinational Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions signed four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) to cooperate with African countries to develop hydropower and geothermal energy systems.

The MoUs were signed on the sidelines of the Japan-Africa Public-Private Economic Forum, in Sandton.

The MoUs are aimed at forming partnerships with companies that have a deep knowledge of infrastructure building to accelerate growth and progress in Africa.

Toshiba Africa MD Iwasuke Shimada points out that the company has signed MoUs with Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Djibouti for geothermal power development in these countries, and that it has supplied and helped to develop geothermal power plants in Kenya.

One of the MoUs is with Malawi’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining (MNREM) for the development and supply of equipment and the development of operational and management guidelines, and to facilitate capacity building programmes for geothermal power in Malawi.

Specifically, the agreement includes feasibility and geotechnical work, early construction and the supply of geothermal power generation equipment, including a 1 MW to 10 MW geothermal wellhead system.

“The MoU with the MNREM anticipates a comprehensive partnership in geothermal power projects, including capacity building programmes in relation to geothermal technology. Toshiba has an installed geothermal base of 56 turbine systems totalling 3 628 MW.

“Toshiba will continue to contribute to stable electricity supply and the realisation of a low-carbon economy across the globe,” adds Iwasuke.

Additionally, Toshiba provides opportunities for local partners or subsidiary employees to complete master’s and doctoral degrees at Japanese universities, specifically on geothermal sciences, including chemical, electrical, geological, mechanical and electronic engineering, says Toshiba business development executive Toyoaki Fujita.

“This role of local capacity building is critical and has been demonstrated as being effective in Kenya. This is a key role that we play to develop and sustain the African energy market,” he explains.

The company has also developed hydropower plants in Africa and hydrostorage systems to stabilise renewable-energy generation.

Additionally, Toshiba proposes its ultra-supercritical steam turbine systems to improve the efficiency of thermal power stations, which predominate in Africa, to increase their efficiency by 10% to 13%. These turbines can be retrofitted and help to improve the efficiency of existing plants, but operate at pressures greater than 24 MPa and temperatures higher than 593 ºC.

Similarly, the company aims to help reduce no-load losses, estimated between 8% and 18% across Africa, through the use of its amorphous distribution transformers, which has an amorphous metal core and requires less maintenance than most other transformers.

Further, the company has significant experience in industrial control and electronic systems and can help to design, develop and build Internet of Things (IoT) systems for the generation, transmission, storage, use and monitoring of energy systems. Similarly, the company offers smart meter and IoT systems for the smart and efficient use of electricity.

“Digitalisation is helping power generation and transmission to be more efficient and Toshiba offers solutions to improve generation efficiency, reduce power outages and manage assets and control the grid more effectively,” says Toyoaki.

“Mutual cooperation is necessary to improve energy access for all people in Africa. Toshiba can supply and develop small and off-grid solutions that include energy storage systems, including lithium-ion and hydrogen storage systems,” he says.

Toshiba’s H2One system uses renewable energy to electrolyse water to produce hydrogen gas that can then be stored and used in fuel cells to produce energy and some heat, for example, for heating water.

Toyoaki also highlights the changing nature of financing and the development of energy systems, and notes that Toshiba has signed MoUs with leasing companies in anticipation of private-sector-financed small-grid and renewable-energy solutions.

Its smart energy-use systems, including IoT and smart metering systems, can help to facilitate the new models of energy development in Africa, he says.