The energy loom – crafting Africa’s green transition


Louis Strydom | Director | Project and Market Development | Europe and Africa | Wärtsilä | mail me |

The global discourse’s broad-brush strokes must make room for the local reality’s fine detail.

The call for a green revolution is no longer a distant echo; it’s the resounding demand of the present. Much like an artisan weaver poised before a complex loom, the world faces the task of crafting a grand tapestry of sustainability. Each thread must be carefully selected and interwoven into this tableau, from the existential reality of climate change to the urgency to transition from carbon-heavy energy dependencies. However, to ensure the tapestry’s strength, we must delve beyond broad strokes and platitudes, using strategic designs with precision and foresight.

Africa finds itself in a unique position within this global tapestry. The countries that develop a clear and effective strategy in this transition will likely secure substantial gains in a world where carbon becomes increasingly costly and digitalisation amplifies our energy demands.

However, in Africa, the urgency of decarbonisation should not overshadow the need for a deliberate and strategic approach. The solution? A meticulously planned, long-term energy transition strategy that respects and utilises our existing resources. A strategy that ensures operational stability and structurally sound foundations as we journey towards a greener future.

The art of anticipation – reinventing forecasting

Predicting energy demand accurately is a pivotal element of effective power systems. To create a greener future, African countries must establish robust electricity metering infrastructures to develop a keen understanding of the real-time energy needs of all consumers throughout the power grid. This will enable operators to manage the demand-side of grid operations more effectively, adding much-needed flexibility to power systems along the way.

But another kind of forecasting calls for our attention in today’s increasingly electrified economy. In Africa, actual electricity demand will not grow incrementally but exponentially.

Expanding digitalisation, extensive data usage, and the burgeoning production of green fuels are amplifying the energy demand curve, which means that the relationship binding power demand with GDP growth has become exponential in nature. Integrating this paradigm shift in growth into our power system forecasts is an essential aspect of manoeuvring the green transition.

The unsung heroes – celebrating infrastructure

Understanding the operational constraints and the capacity of the Transmission and Distribution infrastructure (T&D) is vital in managing the integration of massive amounts of new renewable power.

These often-overlooked T&D systems form the backbone of our energy infrastructure. Recognising their pivotal role in the energy transition can encourage the investment needed to improve and expand the system. That means treating T&D as

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Read the full article by Louis Strydom, Director, Project and Market Development Europe and Africa, Wärtsilä, as well as a host of other topical management articles written by professionals, consultants and academics in the October/November 2023 edition of BusinessBrief.

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