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The 100% hydrogen-ready engine is expected to be available for orders in 2025, and available for delivery from 2026. (Image source: Wärtsilä Energy)

Wärtsilä has officially launched the world’s first large-scale hydrogen-ready engine power plant, which can be converted to run 100% on hydrogen

The new plant, developed in line with the emerging need for flexible power generation solutions that could be key in the journey to net-zero, represents a step beyond existing technology which can only currently run on natural gas and 25 vol% hydrogen blends.

“We will not meet global climate goals or fully decarbonise our power systems without flexible, zero-carbon power generation, which can quickly ramp up and down to support intermittent wind and solar,” commented Anders Lindberg, president at Wärtsilä Energy. “We must be realistic that natural gas will play a part in our power systems for years to come."

Building net-zero foundations

“Our fuel flexible engines can use natural gas today to provide flexibility and balancing, enabling renewable power to thrive," Lindberg continued. "They can then be converted to run on hydrogen when it becomes readily available: future-proofing the journey to net zero. This is a major milestone for us as a company, and the energy transition more generally, as our hydrogen-ready engines will enable the 100% renewable power systems of tomorrow.”

The Wärtsilä 31 engine platform, which the hydrogen-ready power plant is based on, is the most efficient in the world. It synchronises with the grid within 30 seconds from start command, ensures energy security through fuel flexibility and offers exceptional load following capabilities and high part load efficiency. It has completed more than 1 million running hours, with more than 1,000MW installed capacity globally.

The hydrogen-ready engine power plant concept gas been certified by TÜV SÜD. The H2-Readiness certification consists of three stages with three corresponding certificates. Wärtsilä has now achieved the first stage with a Concept Certificate for the conceptual design of its engine power plant. The 100% hydrogen-ready engine is expected to be available for orders in 2025, and available for delivery from 2026.

A diesel generator set delivered in Gabon by Cat dealer Tractafric Equipment. (Image source: Caterpillar)

With generator set demand continuing to grow in Africa, Carl Emery, regional sales manager for Europe, Africa and Middle East for Caterpillar Electric Power, describes what key industries are driving equipment sales and how the company is updating products to meet modern customer requirements

African Review (AR): What are your top selling diesel generator products in Africa currently?

Carl Emery (CE): Economic development is growing across numerous sectors in Africa, so we’re seeing demand for diesel generator sets throughout the full range of power nodes.

In the larger range, Cat 3500 series generator sets, which offer 1250 to 3500 kVA, are popular building blocks for powering larger applications, with a particular focus on the 1500 and 2000 kVA power nodes for data centres, hospitals, manufacturing and other industrial applications.

In the smaller range, the expansion of mobile telecommunications across remote regions without access to the grid is driving demand for Cat generator sets offering 22 to 65 kVA of prime power.

There is a growing need for standby products as the grid matures in Africa, and the Cat GC range of generators helps customers find a cost-effective solution supported fully by Cat dealers.

On the rental side, reliable utility power is a tremendous need across Africa, and gaps in the energy infrastructure are driving growth for temporary power solutions, especially rental power solutions. Cat dealers have a modern fleet of rental power solutions, with a focus on short-term opportunities starting at 200 kVA as well as larger projects from 5 to 15 MVA. They also offer flexibility through short- and long-term rental solutions along with rent-to-own options for diesel, gas and hybrid systems.

In addition, the network of Cat dealers across Africa, provide reliable power and customer uptime through advanced technologies that can be customized to the specific needs of a given application, expert technical support through round-the-clock service and maintenance, and genuine Cat parts.

AR: Are there any particular industries or regions that are driving sales?

CE: From an industry perspective, data centres are driving sales in the larger product range, due to the evolution of digital business services, rapidly accelerating mobile data consumption, and the expansion of the tech sector across the continent. The increasing prevalence of big data in Africa is why Caterpillar recently joined the Africa Data Centres Association (ADCA).

With the spread of mobile telecom towers across remote areas without access to the grid, reliable generator sets from 22 to 65 kVA are needed to supply prime power. Telecommunications providers have begun to deploy these generator sets in microgrids that also incorporate renewable power generation and lithium-ion energy storage to reduce total cost of ownership as well as fuel consumption and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

In mining, Africa is a major producer of many key mineral commodities, with bountiful reserves of metals and minerals such as gold, diamond, cobalt, bauxite, iron ore, coal, and copper across the continent. The mining industry is one of the main end users of stationary and rental solutions for prime power in Africa.

One trend that’s driving diesel generator set demand is utilities’ use of distributed generation to address the gap in supply. Strategically located, multi-MVA power systems can be used to address voltage and frequency regulation, as well as peak shaving. They can also be deployed through power purchase agreements that enable clients to expand capacity without owning or being responsible for maintaining assets.

From a regional perspective, Nigeria and the rest of West Africa have traditionally been top markets for generator set consumption. Demand in South Africa for prime power offered in installed and rental solutions is increasing due to local utility load shedding.

A stand-alone power and water supply system.

AR: Are there any specific trends that are influencing generator design and how are you taking this on board in your own products?

CE: With the growing prime power need in these markets, customers value Caterpillar’s best-in-class life cycle cost proposition. Cat generator sets have traditionally been known for their reliability, durability, and reduced lifecycle costs, and African customers who value total cost of ownership are taking the performance of Cat diesel generator sets to the next level through connectivity and data analytics.

Cat generator sets equipped with remote asset monitoring hardware offer sophisticated data analysis capabilities that enable Caterpillar and Cat dealers to track performance, identify potential issues through predictive analytics, and provide the information needed for service and maintenance that will extend the return on their investment. This intelligence is especially important for units operating in remote regions where technician deployment and parts delivery are more challenging.

Remote asset monitoring is one element of Caterpillar’s broader condition monitoring capabilities, which evaluates generator set operational data to help owners take a proactive approach to planning maintenance, component replacement and repairs.

Additionally, a strong parts and service offering is crucial in enabling customers to get the best return on their investment in Cat generator sets. Expert Cat dealer technicians offer timely support and operational tips that keep power solutions running reliably and efficiently for the long run.

AR: How are you expecting the market to develop in the years ahead and how are you planning for this?

CE: Africa shows positive signs of continued, sustained growth, and together with our dealers, we are committed to contributing to Africa’s success. In fact, the Caterpillar Foundation has invested US$77mn in 24 African countries since 2010, focusing on sustainable infrastructure, access to basic services, workforce readiness and STEM education.

As the African infrastructure continues to expand, Caterpillar is well positioned with a wide portfolio and specific industry expertise in mining, data centres, manufacturing, hospitals and health care, and utilities.

As sustainability initiatives develop across the continent, Caterpillar can help customers achieve their goals through numerous strategies, since one size does not fit all when it comes to power solutions. Caterpillar’s approach includes advanced technologies such as Cat Dynamic Gas Blending (DGB) enabling diesel engines to operate with varying degrees of diesel and gaseous fuels simultaneously; support for renewable fuels such as biodiesel and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO); and hybrid microgrids integrating generator sets, renewable energy sources – solar, wind, and hydropower – and lithium-ion energy storage.

Have your say!

African Review is seeking to expand its coverage of the generator market ahead of its forthcoming Buyers’ Guide. If you are active in this sector and are seeking to expand your footprint, or if you have story/opinion that you think should be heard by the community, reach out to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The first Jinko Solar BESS project was in Africa. (Image source: Jinko Solar)

Ahead of the opening of the Africa Energy Forum (aef) in Barcelona, Spain, from 25-28 June, representatives of sponsor Jinko Solar spoke to African Review to describe why the continent poses a vital avenue for growth for the company and what stumbling blocks remain for wider solar and battery rollout

African Review (AR): How important is the African solar and battery opportunity to your company, especially in light of the increasing focus on off-grid supply there?

Titus Koech (TK), technical services Sr. manager Jinko Solar – sub-Saharan Africa: For Jinko Solar, a leading global and Tier 1 PV modules and battery energy storage manufacturer, the African solar and battery opportunity holds significant strategic importance, especially with the growing emphasis on off-grid supply in the region. Here are some of the reasons:

Market Expansion: Africa presents a vast and largely untapped market for solar energy solutions, particularly in regions where traditional grid infrastructure is lacking. As the continent's population and energy demand continue to rise, there's a growing need for off-grid and decentralised power solutions, making it a prime market for Jinko Solar's PV modules and battery energy storage solutions (BESS).

Off-Grid Focus: With many rural areas in Africa lacking access to reliable electricity, there's a strong push towards off-grid solutions such as solar home systems, mini-grids, and standalone solar installations. Jinko Solar's expertise in manufacturing high-quality solar panels and its ability to integrate battery energy storage solutions positions the company well to meet the demand for off-grid power solutions in Africa.

Sustainability Goals: Many African countries are increasingly prioritising renewable energy sources to meet their sustainability goals and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Jinko Solar's solar panels & battery energy storage solutions offer a clean and sustainable energy alternative, aligning with the renewable energy ambitions of African nations.

Economic Development: Investing in solar energy infrastructure in Africa not only helps to address energy poverty but also contributes to economic development by creating jobs, fostering local manufacturing and assembly capabilities, and attracting investment in the renewable energy sector. Jinko Solar's presence and investments in the region can stimulate economic growth and support local communities.

In our portfolio, we currently have SUNGIGA & SUNTERA micro-grid solutions which are either liquid-cooled or air-cooled which are suitable for off-grid applications in the region. The solutions also range from as low as 3kW and as high as 2MW with a possibility of expansion to hundreds of megawatts.

Jinko Solar has positioned itself to offer many bankable battery energy storage solutions for off-grid applications. In the year 2023, Jinko Solar supplied approximately 100 mini-grid solutions to various projects in Africa. In the same year, the company also provided thousands of residential battery energy storage solutions to different households in the region.

The first Jinko solar BESS project was in Africa, hence we have deep ties with Africa as a region and we usually keep in mind Africa when making our key research and development decisions. In 2024, Jinko expects to deliver approximately 700MWh for off-grid solar in Africa and looking forward to commanding more than 30% market share in the next few years.

AR: With solar and battery prices continuing to fall, another barrier to their widespread implementation is being dismantled. What are some of the challenges that remain that could restrict the scale-up of battery deployment, especially in Africa?

TK: Despite the falling prices of solar panels and batteries, several challengesA headshot of Titus Koech of Jinko Solar. remain that could restrict the widespread deployment of solar plus batteries in Africa:

Initial Capital Investment: While prices are decreasing, the initial capital investment required for setting up solar PV panels and battery storage systems can still be prohibitive for individuals and businesses in Africa, especially in regions with lower income levels.

Infrastructure and Logistics: Africa faces infrastructural challenges such as inadequate roads and transportation networks, which can increase the cost and difficulty of transporting batteries to remote areas. Additionally, a lack of proper installation and maintenance services can hinder the effective deployment of battery systems.

Technology and Capacity Building: There may be a lack of technical expertise and capacity for designing, installing, and maintaining battery storage systems in many African countries. This can limit the adoption of battery technology, as local communities may not have the knowledge or skills required to leverage these systems effectively.

Access to Financing: Access to financing remains a significant barrier for many individuals and businesses in Africa. Without access to affordable financing options, even with falling prices, the upfront costs of solar panels and battery storage systems (which account for at least 70% of the total project cost) can remain out of reach for many potential users.

Regulatory and Policy Frameworks: Inconsistent or inadequate regulatory frameworks and policies related to renewable energy and battery storage can create uncertainty for investors and hinder the scaling up of battery deployment in Africa.

AR: How do you see these being solved?

TK: To address these challenges and facilitate the scale-up of battery deployment in Africa, several strategies can be employed:

Financial Incentives: Governments and international organisations can provide financial incentives such as subsidies, grants, and low-interest loans to make battery storage systems more affordable for consumers and businesses.

Capacity Building: Investing in training programmes and capacity-building initiatives to develop local expertise in designing, installing, and maintaining battery storage systems can help overcome technical barriers and create job opportunities. Jinko Solar is currently running various training programmes to ensure proper technical skills transfer to the technical experts in the region.

Public-Private Partnerships: Collaboration between governments, private sector entities, and non-governmental organisations can help address infrastructure challenges and promote the adoption of battery technology through joint investment and knowledge sharing.

Technology Innovation: Continued investment in research and development to improve solar PV & battery technology and reduce costs can further drive down prices and make battery storage systems more accessible in Africa. In the past two years, leading PV module technologies like TOPCON have been key drivers in improving solar PV module efficiency. Jinko Solar is currently working with in-house and third-party research labs to come up with next-generation PV module technologies to advance breakthroughs in the PV module industry.

Policy Support: Governments can play a crucial role in creating supportive regulatory frameworks and policies that incentivise the deployment of battery storage systems, such as feed-in tariffs, net metering schemes, and renewable energy targets.

By addressing these challenges and implementing appropriate strategies, the scale-up of battery deployment in Africa can be facilitated, unlocking the potential for greater energy access, reliability, and sustainability across the continent.

AR: Can you outline a recent project that the company has completed or is fulfilling on the continent?

Mohamad Saadi Al-Dweik – head of technical servicesA headshot of Mohamad Saadi Al-Dweik – head of technical services & product management – MENA. & product management – MENA: Jinko Solar has become a major player in the Middle East and Africa's solar energy market by providing a wide range of solutions for different customer needs. We offer the most up-to-date and cost-effective options to meet specific market demands.

Jinko Solar is at the forefront of innovation in solar panel technology. As the world's leading supplier of N-type technology, we continuously improve it year after year. In 2024, we introduced Metallization Enhancement (ME) technology, which reduces aluminium content in the silver paste. This advancement boosts cell efficiency by 0.5% and enhances the reliability of TOPCon cells.

While Africa has made significant strides in developing its renewable energy infrastructure, Jinko Solar recognizes the vast, untapped potential on the continent. We see a thriving market in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Morocco, and anticipate even more markets emerging with a surge in demand.

Jinko Solar is prepared to meet this growing demand by offering a comprehensive range of solar solutions. Our air-cooled and liquid-cooled options cater to diverse applications and scenarios.

The project will make use of drones and AI technology. (Image source: Aeroterra & Eldera Matadata Presisi)

Banyan Investment Banking & Hedge Fund and Quantum Metal Group have selected Aeroterra & Eldera Matada Presisi as the technology partner to assess the value of Kenya’s carbon credit assets

Once Aeroterra & Eldera Matadata Presisi receives regulatory approval it will make use of drones and artificial intelligence to accurately measure the country’s carbon deposits in real time. The drones are capable of seeding soils, a critical component in the rejuvenation of Kenya’s lands. The pilot project will then be scaled to the wider region as part of the consortium’s Investment Bank Humanitarian Contribution Campaigning Programme.

A typical carbon data project, like the consortium will carry out, involves the collection, analysis, and management of data related to carbon emissions and carbon sequestration. This aims to:

• Track and quantify carbon emissions from various sources;
• Measure the amount of carbon being absorbed by natural processes;
• Analyse the collected data to understand patters, trends and impacts of carbon emissions and sequestration;
• Provide insights that can help in developing strategies for carbon management and reduction;
• Ensure that data collection methods comply with international standards and verify the accuracy of the data.

The data from the initiative will be supplied to Verra, a US-based organisation that oversees standards in the Verified Carbon Standard VCS Programme, for approval.

Projects such as this are considered crucial for designing strategies to fight climate change by informing governments and organisations so that they are able to undertake informed actions to reduce carbon footprints and enhance sustainability efforts.

The consortium carrying out the project will commit US$650,000 towards it that will be financed through Letscoin, a digital complementary currency that was recently launched by Banyan Investment Banking & Hedge Fund.

The ACED team has brought on around 470MW of private wind and solar projects to financial close in the last 24 months. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

African Infrastructure Investment Manager (AIIM) has achieved financial close on two wind farms in South Africa to supply renewable energy for Rio Tinto’s Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) operations and alongside Sibanye Stillwater via wheeling agreements

The projects in question are the 140MW Khangela and 140MW Umsinde Emoyeni wind farms which have been led and developed by ACED, the renewable energy project development platform of AIIM. Alongside the AIIM-managed IDEAS Fund, Reatile Renewables has also invested in the projects.

“We are immensely proud to have achieved financial close and construction commencement on another two private renewables projects in partnership with some of South Africa’s key mining houses,” remarked James Cumming, general manager of ACED. “Not only will the projects provide Rio’s Richards Bay Minerals and Sibanye Stillwater with clean energy for their operations, but they will also create jobs and development funding streams to support and grow local communities living adjacent to the projects.”

The deal entails the sale of power to the mining houses through 20-year Power Purchase Agreements. Khangela and Umsinde Emoyeni Wind Farms are situated near Murraysburg in the Western Cape, with a small portion of the proposed development site falling into the Northern Cape.

Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), a division of FirstRand Bank Limited, is the sole mandated lead arranger for both projects, and operations and maintenance services for the projects once built will be provided by AIIM’s in-house operator, EIMS.

Alleviating load shedding

“The addition of increased power generation capacity to the national grid will contribute to offsetting the power deficit currently being experienced in the country,” added Cumming.

“AIIM continues to be committed to and successfully executing its mandate of investing in renewable energy projects that can deliver sustainable investment returns over the long-term to our predominantly South African pension fund investor base,” commented Sechaba Selemela, investment principal at AIIM. “Our in-house development platforms provide us with a differentiated and steady flow of large-scale investment opportunities, which are unmatched in this market.”

Simphiwe Mehlomakulu, executive chairman of Reatile Group, contributed, “We are delighted to have reached financial close on both projects and support big businesses such that they continue to create employment and opportunities in the South African communities in which we operate. We continue to bring tangible solutions to alleviating load shedding by bringing sustainable generation capacity to the grid in South Africa.”

“Financial close of the Umsinde Emoyeni wind farm marks another critical step in our journey to carbon neutrality by 2040,” stated Sibanye-Stillwater CEO, Neal Froneman. “The renewable energy secured through our four PPAs will enable a stepped reduction in our carbon footprint, aiming to contribute not only to mitigate the effects of climate change, but also enhancing the sustainability and shared value creation of our SA operations through favourable pricing relative to current supply. We continue to develop and execute energy solutions that contribute to the delivery of our strategy.”

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