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Clarke Energy's contribution to the African energy mix, through its dedicated supply of and support for GE Jenbacher engines in core markets
"We have a philosophy of distributed, decentralised power," said Hugh Richmond, business development director at Clarke Energy, before offering insights into Clarke Energy's operations in Africa at the recently-held Africa Rising event held in Liverpool, in the UK.
Clarke Energy has one product and one focus. It is the distributor for the GE Jenbacher engine to more than 16 countries and will conduct engineering, supply and maintenance over the engine's typical 20-25-year lifespan. It has supplied engines to Nigeria since 1998, moving into Tunisia, Algeria, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa in recent years.
Around 70 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is not electrified. Investment in infrastructure is a must. Richmond cites the need for at least 750MW of emergency generation capacity in SSA today - and Clarke Energy stresses that, in Africa, that need for 750MW and above is normally delivered through high-cost short-term rentals.
GE, however, has just launched its distributed power business in Lagos, Nigeria, to help address this shortage in core markets. Clarke Energy is also poised to meet at least a measure of this need, with the Jenbacher product. Its engines are used for numerous applications, and will run on various sources of fuel – ranging from greenhouses through to combined heat and power (CHP), coal gas, landfill gas, sewage gas, associated gas, gasification and biogas.
Critical supply concerns
Richmond focused on CHP and embedded power, an efficient source of fuel that delivers power generation as well as heat. The focus on decentralised energy, or distributed energy enables generation of electricity from many small energy sources, potentially giving relatively low environmental impacts and improved security of supply.
In South Africa, Clarke Energy has just employed four new engineers, training them in the UK before deploying back in the continent. Employing skilled engineers in-country is key to the company's business model.
Presently, Clarke Energy is working with Tropical Power at Gorge Farm in Lake Naivasha in Kenya, following commissioning early in 2014, on the installation and operation of the first biogas engines in SSA. It has also worked with Guinness and with Nestlé in Nigeria. Together, Clarke Energy and Nestlé pioneered the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel source, Nestlé's Flowergate Factory, delivering a reduction of recurrent electricity cost of up to 30 per cent. The CNG facility was engineered by Clarke Energy - and, when it was brought into operation in September 2013, it represented a critical development in the use of gas supply for Nigerian communities where gas infrastructure has been non-existent.