Lucy Electric

Partner Showcase – Gold Partner | Lucy Electric

Climate change has consistently been high on the news and political agenda where actions to address this growing challenge are having an ongoing and profound effect on the global electricity industry.

Increasingly, government commitments to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), set out following the Paris Agreement, are driving the industry away from carbon-based generation and towards renewable generation sources, creating a paradigm shift in the energy supply. Alongside this, many of the world’s major banks are aligning investment policy with the global shift towards more sustainable and clean energy sources. With the African Development Bank (AfDB) no longer funding coal-fired power generation in the region and several South African banks announcing a decision to follow suit, the focus in Africa is now firmly on investment in renewable energy projects.

This major shift in investment and the rapid growth of the sector have driven down costs, making renewable projects much more competitive and attractive to utilities and independent power producers (IPPs).

THE RISE OF WIND POWER

The cost reduction has particularly favoured wind power: a recent report published by the International Energy Agency predicts a boom in wind power projects over the next 20 to 30 years. This is being driven by the declining costs in installations, supportive government policies and “remarkable technological progress” with components such as larger turbines. Whilst the majority of wind power is in offshore developments, onshore projects are becoming increasingly common in parts of Africa. Following a slow start, wind power is now becoming a key part of the renewable generation mix.

The South African Government’s 2019 energy transition plan, designed to build a more sustainable energy future, predicts that wind power will supply up to 18% of the country’s power generation in the next ten years. The recent launch of the South African Wind Energy Association further underlines its growing importance in the region. The non-profit industry body, ‘Wind SADC’, is mandated to help countries boost their wind energy industries and facilitate companies to participate.

As an expert in renewable connections, Lucy Electric has seen a rise in wind projects in all of our international markets. Whilst some regions are moving at different paces, we have seen a significant shift towards wind power in Africa. In the last year alone the company has supported projects totalling 250MW of capacity in South Africa. With wind power becoming more affordable than gas generation or nuclear power, we expect to see this trend continue over the next few years.

To support this growing trend, we have an ongoing strategy to review our product development to meet the changes in the market. For example, our Aegis 36 Ring Main Unit (RMU) was designed to be particularly suitable for renewable connections and incorporates all the operational features companies are looking for when installing renewable assets. We have also developed a range of metering units for this RMU which enables the customer to measure power output and an outdoor cable in/out circuit breaker unit specifically designed for wind farm applications.

PLANNING A RENEWABLES FUTURE

With wind generation predicted to play an increasingly large part in our energy future, network operators are already looking ahead at how greater innovation can support a more efficient grid and facilitate greater use of this clean, renewable energy source.

Active network management and intelligent data analytics are key tools in this energy revolution. The right information and a whole network approach will drive the dynamic systems needed to support more diversified and distributed energy generation sources. Lucy Electric’s extensive automation range and medium and low voltage monitoring portfolio ensures we are well placed to support utilities and IPPs as they develop the smart networks of the future.

These smart networks need the flexibility that is facilitated by an interconnected world. As a business we are always looking for opportunities to work with innovation partners to help extend our portfolio to keep ahead of the industry’s needs.