The year 2020 marks exactly 10 years of continuous power generation by Sunon Asogli Power Limited in Ghana. Owned by Shenzhen Energy Group of the People’s Republic of China with support from China Africa Development Fund (CADFUND), the company is not only the first successful Independent Power Producer (IPP) in the country but the biggest.
In 2007, the Shenzhen Energy Group saw the challenges in Ghana’s energy sector and took up the challenge to add 200MW of installed capacity to the nation’s power grid. With the addition of 360MW later, Sunon Asogli Power is now the largest IPP in the country and the second biggest power producer after the Volta River Authority (VRA), operator of the Akosombo Dam.
“Looking back, we are proud of what we have achieved within the Ghanaian energy sector. We took the country’s energy sector to a height which many thought was impossible. Such a height has allowed for more IPPs to play within the energy sector of Ghana today. As pacesetters in this space and with the strong backbone of our mother company, the Shenzhen Energy Group, we are ready to gain more ground in the energy space of the country and to add to the energy infrastructure of Africa,” its Chairman, Yang Qun told the B&FT in Accra.
The contributions made by Sunon Asogli Power to the Ghanaian economy are enormous. Over the last ten years, it has successfully generated more than 14,100.53GWh of power to supplement the national grid, using a resolute business model.
This success can be attributed to the company’s experience and great partnership with credible financial institutions and original equipment manufacturers. The model also works with little or no guarantees, thereby putting Sunon Asogli Power ahead of the competition.
“Our technical capabilities in delivering power projects is unquestionable, as we have been able to overcome both natural impediments and construction difficulties to develop successful projects that have made breakthroughs in the energy industry. We have delivered a large capacity of electricity to power grids within some shortest construction periods as compared to our peers.
Through hard work, dedication, efficient operational practices and good maintenance culture our power plants have some of the highest plant availability rates in the country,” he stated.
Renewable energy ambition
The Government of Ghana through the Renewable Energy Master Plan has indicated that between 2019 and 2030, it would like to increase the proportion of renewable energy in the national energy generation mix from 42.5MW to 1363.63MW (with grid connected system totaling 1094.65).
Sunon Asogli Power, according to him, intends to explore this great opportunity to develop and add to its energy footprint in the country. This, Mr. Yang explains, does not only fit in the plans of Sunon Asogli Power and the government of Ghana, but the future of the energy industry.
“We are ready and poised to assume leadership and blaze the trail in the renewable energy space and it is our goal to invest in clean energy to help Ghana as well as other countries within the continent to achieve a healthy energy mix.
We believe that the time has come to exploit opportunities in new areas of power generation as a major player in the Ghana energy sector with solid technological backbone from Shenzhen Energy Group which has 3003MW installed capacity of renewable energy,” Mr. Yang said.
To demonstrate its readiness, a team called Africa Business Development Unit, comprising a group of experts in the field of electricity generation, environmental protection and urban gas, has been set up to drive the renewable energy agenda. This team is to explore opportunities not only in Ghana, but also in the whole of the sub-region, all in the quest to increase the renewable component in the energy mix.
Sunon Asogli Power through its newly established Africa Business Development unit will undertake major initiatives in renewable energy and clean energy transitions and will focus on delivering reliable, safe, cost effective, efficiency oriented, environmentally friendly electricity generation projects.
The unit will also actively partake in and contribute to the progress of the multilateral vision of achieving full electricity connectivity and consequently, grid power exchanges among power pools within the region. This is expected to help lower emissions from power generation, diversify the generation mix and lower the cost of electricity whiles providing jobs and strengthening economic growth.
“The good news about this vision is that, just as our projects in Ghana and the rest of the world, there will be great benefits that will accrue to citizens of our host nations in the form of knowledge transfer, local jobs and corporate social responsibility initiatives to support livelihoods.
This, we foresee, would greatly improve the security of power and boost economic growth in West Africa and its neighboring regions especially Central and Eastern Africa and the continent at large,” the Chairman noted.
So far, the company has invested in 800kWp capacity solar PV for its internal use, as a show of its commitment to tap into the renewable energy space.
“The team has started on the right note by integrating electricity generation from solar resources into our internal consumption mix. If the highly sustainable 800kW solar PV is anything to go by, it is indicative of the posture of the future investment of Sunon Asogli Power which is to contribute to Ghana achieving diversity in energy generation and by so doing, contribute to the accelerated development of the country. We are entering the renewable energy space with state of the art technology which is in consonance with local and international standards.
Over the past ten years, not only have we contributed to ending the power challenges in Ghana but also served as the number one training ground for young, talented engineers to learn on the job. Today, we are proud to say that several young engineers who were employed by Sunon Asogli Power directly after school received the requisite training and grooming which have prepared them to meet the employment requirements of the sector. This goes to show our readiness to share the knowledge we have with citizens of our host nations. We intend to replicate the same learning experience in the renewable energy space,” he further said.
“We look to the future with great optimism, we are confident of our preparedness in developing, constructing and efficiently operating conventional, new, hybrid energy from renewable and green energy sources to ensure sustainability in power generation.
This ranges from technologies in solar, hydroelectric power, wind power, geothermal, tidal or wave energy, biomass/bioenergy, thermo electric and photothermal power generation,” he said.
He said Sunon Asogli Power has developed a phenomenal working relationship with original equipment manufacturers which has been very critical to the successful and timely delivery of all new energy projects of the company and that his outfit will replicate same for its renewable energy business.
Shenzhen Energy Group footprints in renewable energy space
The group’s portfolios in renewables include the waste incineration power generation known as Shenzhen Energy East Environmental Protection Power Plant. The project is currently the world’s largest single-unit waste incineration power plant with the most advanced technology. The plant process about 5,000 tons of waste per day, accounting for about one-third of the annual waste generated in Shenzhen city, which has a population of over 20 million.
The flue gas emission index of this waste incineration power plant is better than the Chinese national standard (GB18485-2014) and the European Union standard (2010/75/EU).
Another renewable subsidiary is a wind power project, the Shenzhen Energy Linze 37.5MW Wind Power Plant, which has installed capacity of 37.5MW with 15 sets of GE2.5-132 wind turbines. The height of the wind turbine hub is 150 meters, making it one of the tallest in the world.
Aside the Linze 37.5MW Wind Power Plant, the group also operates Shenzhen Energy Gaoyou East 100MW Wind Power Plant, which has total installed capacity of 100MW via 50 sets of 2.0 MW wind turbines, creatively used 140-meter ultra-high hybrid tower and 137-meter flexible tower in plain area with low wind speed. It provides new technological path for wind power development in low wind speed areas in the eastern plains of China, winning it the “China Power Quality Engineering Award”.
The group’s solar business is ran by Shenzhen Energy Nanjing Lishui 20MW Agro-Photovoltaic Power Plant. The project focuses on cultivation of basic crops, horticultural crops, tea, fruits, edible fungus, herbal medicines and other high-efficiency economic crops under the photovoltaic solar power generation device, with construction of 5,300 square meters of smart glass greenhouses, 1,000 square meters of plant factories and other modern and efficient agricultural facilities.
This agro-photovoltaic power plant is typical photovoltaic agriculture business. It does not only has power generation capacity, but also provides a suitable growth environment for crops, edible fungi and livestock.
There is also the Shenzhen Energy Hydropower Investment Management Co., Ltd, committed to investment, development, construction and operation of hydropower projects. The company started from Sichuan Province, spreading across China, successively establishing several branches across the Asian country.
It currently operates 37 hydropower stations with a total installed capacity of 993,000 kilowatts.
Yang Qun emphasized that the Shenzhen Energy Group is the right partner to help Ghana and other African countries to achieve energy independence, given its experience and competence.
“Our vision for Ghana and the rest of Africa is a future with sustainable cities that are low on waste, efficient, responsible and profitable. We are well positioned to continue to add value to business and to promote growth. Therefore, within the coming years, Sunon Asogli Power will look forward to scaling up its generation capacity within the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) with the goal of becoming the largest and most significant power generation company within the sub region,” Mr. Yang concluded.