The technology group Wärtsilä signed its first Asset Management Agreement for a photovoltaic (PV) power plant in April 2017. Wärtsilä will assume full responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the Essakane solar plant in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso. The solar plant shares a control system with a thermal power plant. Operative co-ordination to maximise the production of the two plants is key in the new agreement.
The seven year agreement includes the daily operation of the solar plant, preventive, scheduled and corrective maintenance, cleaning of the modules and coordination of operations with those of a thermal power plant using the same control system. The new Asset management agreement seamlessly complements the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement Wärtsilä signed in March 2017 for the solar power plant.
Wärtsilä's task is to optimise the production of the PV plant and make sure that the thermal plant delivers effective, efficient and stable power with unsurpassed performance. In parallel, the thermal plant, which operates on eleven Wärtsilä 32 engines, retains a sufficient number of engines in stand-by mode to cover potential fluctuations in the PV solar energy production.
Maximising the PV plant's production means that less heavy fuel oil is needed for the thermal plant, reducing both fuel costs and environmental impacts.
Essakane Solar S.A.S., the holder of the PV plant, is owned by EREN Renewable Energy ("EREN RE", 90% shareholder) and African Energy Management Platform ("AEMP", 10% shareholder). EREN RE develops, builds, finances, invests in and operates on the long-term power projects in countries where renewable energy represents an economically viable solution to growing energy demands. EREN RE has accumulated a portfolio of 650 MW of renewable energy assets in operation and under construction, and over 1,500 MW of assets in development.
"This project represents a breakthrough in the industry," says EREN RE Africa Business Development VP Christophe Fleurence, noting that hybrid solar PV engine solutions allow energy intensive industries to enter an era of more climate-friendly operations, to improve business and to increase resilience to oil price variation. "EREN RE chose Wärtsilä for its impressive track record in Africa, its profound knowledge of the thermal power plant that operates in conjunction with the solar farm and its ability to fulfil our expectations with a competitive, reliable lifecycle solution."
Remote centre supports operations with digital services
The local operations of the PV plant in Burkina Faso are remotely supported by Wärtsilä Expertise Centres which continuously monitor the plant parameters and alert in potential problem situations that may arise in the day-to-day operation of the facility.
"This agreement is significant to Wärtsilä in many ways. It is our very first operation and maintenance agreement for a solar plant, beginning an entirely new chapter in the story of Wärtsilä. In co-ordinating production of the two power plants, we will be able to combine our strong background in engine-based power production with our solar offering. We look forward to many years of successful cooperation with EREN RE," says Serge Begue, Vice President, South Europe & Africa, Wärtsilä Services.
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