By Oke Peter
The technology group Wärtsilä will convert the close to 90 MW Bel-Air power plant in Dakar, Senegal to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG). The plant, which is owned by Senelec, Senegal’s public utility company, currently operates on heavy fuel oil.
The conversion will future-proof the facility as Senegal’s long-term strategy is to lower the carbon footprint of energy production by switching to gas when a domestic supply is available. This project is part of an interim LNG-to-Power ‘bridge’ solution, and is the first ever power plant gas conversion in Senegal. The order with Wärtsilä was booked in Q1 2021.
“Our two main aims were to improve the plant’s environmental profile and to lower the operating costs. By taking advantage of Wärtsilä’s deep experience and strong capabilities in power plant gas conversions, we can achieve both of these goals. At the same time, we are preparing the plant for the country’s future gas supply infrastructure,” said Papa Mademba Biteye, Managing Director of Senelec.
“Future-proofing the customer’s assets to meet the requirements over the lifecycle via a gas conversion is far more cost-effective than building a new plant. It also facilitates the greater use of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, since the converted plant will be able to provide highly flexible, fast-starting baseload power for balancing the grid,” commented Marc Thiriet, Energy Business Director, Africa West, Wärtsilä.
The Bel-Air plant’s existing six Wärtsilä 46 engines will be converted to six Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines. Wärtsilä’s current operation & maintenance agreement covering the existing engines is being renegotiated in view of the conversion. Wärtsilä’s dual-fuel engine technology allows the use of multiple fuels, providing the option to operate on gas with liquid fuels as back-up.
Besides the engine conversion, the project will cover all aspects to ensure successful operations on gas. Everything from safety to operational reliability are taken into account, with control functions, mechanical auxiliary systems, as well as electrical and automation systems being changed or upgraded as required. As part of the engineering, procurement, and construction contract, Wärtsilä will manage all phases of the project, which is expected to be completed before the end of 2021.
In addition to the Bel-Air plant, Senelec also has three other Wärtsilä power plants in operation in Senegal. Wärtsilä has a leading position in supplying flexible power generation to West Africa with 4792 MW of capacity installed.