Azura-Edo Power Plant: engineering feat provides grid stability in Nigeria
By Titilola Taiwo
In Nigeria, where demand for power outstrips supply for its 224 million citizens, the Azura-Edo Power Plant in Benin City is responsible for about 10% of the nation’s electricity production, and is a vital source of stability for the country’s strained power grid. It was therefore a critical achievement when it recently successfully completed its first major inspection safely ahead of schedule.
As a trusted partner, Siemens Energy engineers were responsible for ensuring that the impact of the major engineering works on this strategically important asset were carried out quickly, safely, and efficiently, to minimize disruption to the country’s electricity grid and the cost to the plant operator.
First major inspection
Following six years of development, the almost $900 million power plant started operating in May 2018. The plant’s three, nearly 200 tonne STG5-2000E Gas Turbines, each underwent their first major inspection over the past few months, with short breaks in between, and each inspection was completed in a record number of days.
“Having completed the Azura-Edo Plant’s first major technical inspection ahead of schedule is a very significant achievement because it drastically minimized disruption to the country’s under-resourced power grid”Samuel Abolade, the Siemens Energy project manager responsible for maintaining the Azura-Edo plant’s operating capacity and inspections.
The inspection required extensive collaboration between the more than 130-strong team, from Nigeria and abroad, that overcame numerous challenges without injury or disruption.
“The inspection was a true engineering feat, considering that several inspection personnel were redeployed overseas at short notice, that the area surrounding the facility faced disease outbreaks and that the project faced logistical and personnel obstacles” said Abolade.
As part of its Long Term Service Agreement (LTSA) with Azura, Siemens Energy is contracted to undertake scheduled maintenance inspections and provide assurances on the duration of these activities. Over the span of the contract, Siemens Energy has successfully completed all inspections within the specified timeframes and has once again done so with the first set of major inspections. This has enabled Azura to put its units back onto the grid ahead of schedule.
A first for Nigeria’s clean energy transition
As Nigeria’s first independent power producer (IPP) plant, Azura-Edo is a 461MW open cycle gas turbine power station that is designed to help close Nigeria’s almost 11,000 MW energy gap whilst paving the way for a more sustainable energy mix in the country. The national peak demand for electricity in Nigeria is about 20 000 MW, but currently, the country has only about 5,000 MW on the grid at any given moment due to stranded capacity caused by wheeling limitations. The Azura-Edo plant contributes about 10% of the electricity currently on the grid, making it a strategic and crucial part of the nation’s energy sector.
“Azura-Edo stabilizes the national grid and is reliably running at full capacity. But perhaps one of its proudest records is that the plant has had 100,000 safe consecutive worker hours with zero loss time injury, making it a very safe and reliable project,” said Abolade.
With the Federal Government as its client, the plant is owned and operated by Azura Power and equipped and serviced by Siemens Energy. With a potential maximum generation capacity of 1,500 MW, the facility is located on a 100-hectare site in Edo State that can accommodate planned expansions to support future energy demand.
As part of its clean energy transition, Azura-Edo is expected to move from an Open Cycle system to a more efficient Combined Cycle system utilizing a connected steam turbine, in the near future. “This plant and other such IPPs are setting a positive precedent and will hopefully be replicated to help secure Nigeria’s clean and reliable energy future,” said Abolade.
The current energy reality in Nigeria
In Nigeria, currently, most households and businesses rely at least partially on premium motor spirit (PMS) or diesel-powered generators, which are costly to maintain and have a negative environmental impact. Consumers have been hit hard by skyrocketing global fuel prices and the recent removal of the national fuel subsidy, which is causing consumers to pay up to 35% more for fuel. Consumer cost inflation is also on the rise. “Households, businesses, and industries are suffering. Access to reliable and affordable power is a major issue in Nigerian society,” said Abolade.
Higher fuel and electricity prices are impacting all other consumer expenses. “Gas is a reliable and affordable interim power source, that can help to stabilize the grid, as we transition to renewable energy.”
The power of partnerships
Explaining the significance of the partnerships that made the plant possible, Kolapo Oyagbola, the Siemens Energy head of the Gas Services Central division in Nigeria, said: “Siemens Energy’s collaboration with Azura has resulted in one of, if not the most, reliable and well-run utility power plants in Nigeria. We, therefore, consider the plant and our relationship with Azura as a proof of concept which can be replicated to address Nigeria’s current energy challenges. We look forward to deepening our relationship with Azura in the coming years as the Nigerian power industry continues to grow and evolve.”
Independent power production is vital for the future reliability and stability of Nigeria’s power grid. But even more importantly, Nigeria and the West African region now depend on sustainable energy development to unlock transformative growth in the years to come.
As a capable, reliable, and proven partner, Siemens Energy is strategically positioned to support this transition. By working with our partners on their energy transition we ensure that strategic assets like Azura, are equipped and maintained, to provide stable, secure and sustainable energy access for society.