• Saturday, April 13, 2024
businessday logo


Why GE Vernova will champion Nigeria’s voyage to energy transition- Oyakhire

Why GE Vernova will champion Nigeria’s voyage to energy transition- Oyakere

Over the past 100 years, General Electric (GE) Vernova, a multinational American conglomerate, has played a key role in Nigeria’s power sector. They started with completing their first power project in 1921. Now, GE Vernova is championing a transition into clean energy by making bold investments in the technologies that will make it a reality.

In this interview, Kenneth Oyakhire, the managing executive director for GE Vernova’s gas power business in sub-Saharan Africa, elaborates on this transition and its efforts to optimise the energy mix of industries within Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. Dipo Oladehinde brings excerpts.

Read also: Energy transition must be just, equitable — OPEC

How does GE Vernova leverage its global expertise to address Nigeria’s unique energy challenges?

We have technologies that are increasing efficiency, increasing power outputs, and also making sure that we work with our customers. We also partner with them in terms of reducing carbon footprints across the country. The technologies are available, they are proven and we will continue to partner with the government to make sure that whatever the challenges are, we are in front of them and making sure that the proven technologies that we have worth over a billion dollars are available to solve problems. If you think about the landscape in Nigeria, 65 percent of the power generated in Nigeria is from our equipment. I think we are well-positioned to help support, collaborate and coordinate that space and ensure that the challenges are resolved.

So, when you think about the three pillars that I talked about, for instance, power, we have our equipment in all of these sites. When you think about electrification, we are pushing our technologies in the grid space that is helping to substantiate and stabilise the grid. When you think about accelerators, we are bringing investors and other people who are big players into this Nigerian space to make sure that they see that sector as viable and bankable. So, we are here. We are more than well-positioned, and we are excited about what we see on a day-to-day basis. At the end of it all, what is most important is that the average life of every Nigerian improves by making sure that there is light on every street and corner of Nigeria.

GE Vernova has been instrumental in providing a significant portion of Nigeria’s power through its gas turbine and hydroelectric generation technologies. Can you elaborate on the impact these technologies have had on Nigeria’s energy landscape?

We have technologies that are out there that we have deployed that increased the output of equipment from close to 15 percent to 16 percent while also adding additional 15 megawatts or 16 megawatts to each of the equipment. We have technologies that have improved efficiency, and reduced gas consumption and increased output. We have technology out there within the Nigerian space that is more robust, more rigid, more rugged, and can sustain the grid that we have presently in Nigeria. We have a testament of customers across the spectrum who have technologies that we can speak to and are very proud of.

How has GE Vernova established and maintained partnerships with the Nigerian government and other stakeholders? What role do these partnerships play in advancing sustainable energy solutions in the country?

The entire GE Vernova team is super excited because of what we do on a day-to-day basis. Our partnership with the government is stronger than ever. We are pulled into discussions on how to strategise, and improve the energy situation in Nigeria. We have partners across all industries in the private sector who are always willing to sit with us and engage with us about the new technologies and most importantly more than willing to test them out within the Nigerian space.

So, it’s something that we will continue to do. It is something that gets me excited on a day-to-day basis. When I wake up every morning, the one thing that comes to my mind is, how do I become a piece of the solution? I want to look back years from now and say, we did it. We moved Nigeria from point A to point B. I’m heavily vested. I worked for the first independent power plant in Nigeria, 23 to 24 years ago that was brought in by the current president who was then governor of Lagos state.

Read also: Measures for sustainable energy development in Africa, by GPPSL CEO

The Nigerian Energy Policy outlines the country’s long-term vision for the energy sector. How is GE Vernova positioned with the goals and objectives of this policy, particularly regarding renewable energy integration, grid modernisation, and rural electrification?

GE Venova, like I told you, we are more than ready, and here’s the thing, when it comes to policy, it’s exciting when the government rolls out policies. We review, we read, and give our feedback, and then we collaborate. I have looked at it; it is exciting; it’s bubbling. I truly believe that with the vested interest that this government has, things will move forward. And from a GE Venova’s point of view, we are strategically positioned, because who else would you call that has 65 percent of the power generation in Nigeria? So, we are strategically positioned to make sure that every technology that we have out there is deployed within Nigeria. Our portfolio, the biggest part of it, is in Nigeria. So, we are going to continue to work with them. We don’t make policies. We review, we give feedback, and we collaborate. And collaboration is the most important thing for GE Venova.

We make sure that people are aware of what we’re doing, and how much we are doing. I truly believe that the government is in the right direction. I will continue to support, and continue to collaborate. I will continue to air our views and make sure that they understand that GE is here to stay. GE Venova is a partner, GE Venova can be relied upon to work with them and move these policies, new ideas and strategies forward.

What more solutions do you see the company providing Nigeria in the next 15 years?

We are going to be the lead in the energy transition space. We are going to lead in innovative and new engineering solutions across the energy space. We have been doing it, and we will continue to do it. As we said, GE Venova’s focus is going to be innovative and transformative in the power and energy space. So, on the largest scale, that is what we are going to be deploying and doing within the Nigeria space, leading and driving the narrative.

With a century-long presence in Nigeria and a 65 percent share of the country’s power generation capacity, how do you see GE Vernova evolving in terms of growth and expansion in the Nigerian market?

We have been in Nigeria for over a hundred years. That is a testament to our doggedness in making sure that we are partners with the various governments that have been through this country, ensuring that we partner with them to deliver reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity.

About 65 percent of the thermal power from the Nigerian grid has GE Vernova’s equipment. That is huge. And we don’t take it for granted. We have equipment in over 4o sites across Nigeria. We have people seated in various locations in Nigeria. So, when you talk about collaboration and sustainability and looking into the future, first and foremost, we are well-grounded and we are here.

Beyond this, GE Venova is also positioning itself to become an independent business. And this is very intentional from GE Venova’s point of view. We want to be focused on what we do best which is delivering reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity.

We are firmly and solidly positioned to be the leader, supporting and driving the narrative around sustainable electricity, sustainable power, and sustainable energy in the Nigerian space.

Can you be specific on some of the initiatives you are working out to address issues, social and environmental concerns that might be in Nigerian communities where GE is operating?

We are super passionate about reducing the carbon footprint. We have invested a lot within the last couple of years to drive technologies that would improve our environment. It is where we live. We breathe and live in it on a day-to-day basis. So, for GE Venova, we are leading in terms of technology and know-how. Within that space, we will continue to drive our research and development centres in new technologies that will help us to reduce carbon emissions, and new technologies that will help us to make sure that the lives of everyone across the globe get better. If there is electricity, there is economic growth, there will be employment, and there will be the sustainability of the economy.

Read also: Navigating Nigeria energy landscape via CCUS and Hydrogen for sustainability

It starts with us. And that is why for us in GE Venova, it is something that we live and breathe. So, whether you are talking about social, environmental, or economic, we see it as one piece. If we deploy the right technology, and there is electricity, there will be power for the manufacturing sector to employ more people. People will be more empowered, and serve the growth of the country.

If we deploy technologies that reduce carbon emissions, we are going to leave a better head space for our children and our children’s children. If we deploy the right technology, the social space will be more than exciting and bubbling. So, for us at GE, it is about doing it right, getting it right and making sure that people see that we are leading the energy transition space. And it’s not something that we take for granted. Whether it is how we transition from coal to renewable, or making sure that gas remains a pivotal part of that. Because you can’t take out the entire coal space in one night. So, it has to be a transition. So strategically, that gas space is where we continue to drive and encourage people because it has lesser carbon emissions. As we build on renewable and scale and get to the level where we want renewable to be, GE Venova will be leading all the way.