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    Wartsila to switch 90-MW Senegal power plant to gas


Senegal is transitioning from coal and oil to natural gas in power generation to address its emissions and capitalise on its offshore reserves.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Wartsila to switch 90-MW Senegal power plant to gas

Finnish technology firm Wartsila will convert the 90-MW Bel-Air heavy fuel oil power plant in Senegal's capital Dakar to run on LNG, the company said on April 12.

The station's existing six Wartsila 46 engines will be swapped for six Wartsila 50DF dual-fuel engines, in order to "future-proof" the facility by reducing its carbon footprint. It will be the first time a power plant has been converted to gas in Senegal, which is looking to transition to gas-based generation from coal and oil over the coming years.

"Our two main aims were to improve the plant’s environmental profile and to lower the operating costs," Senegal's public utility Senelec, the station's owner, said in a statement. "By taking advantage of Wartsila’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."

Wartsila added that converting an existing plant to gas was more cost-effective than building a new one. "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," it said.

The project is expected to be completed before the end of the year.  Wartsila booked an order for the work in the first quarter, and is renegotiating its operation and maintenance agreement for the plant with Senelec in light of the conversion.

Senegal has its own gas offshore, with the BP-led Greater Tortue Ahmeyim project shared with Mauritania expected to start production in 2023, supplying gas to the countries' domestic markets in addition to exporting LNG. But in the nearer term it is looking to import LNG, with a floating storage and regasification unit owned by Japan's Mitsui OSK Lines and Turkey's Karpowership expected to arrive in the country later this year.

General Electric was hired in January to supply equipment for a planned 300-MW combined-cycle power plant in Dakar, due online in 2022.