Interview with Craig Hart, Consultant at Energy Exemplar and speaker in the gas to power session in the generation track on 13 May at the upcoming African Utility Week in Cape Town in May.
1. What in your view are the main challenges currently to the energy industry in Africa?
I think the greatest challenge is the huge acceleration in electricity demand throughout Africa. Electrification schemes in Africa coupled with significant industrial growth mean that the acceleration of electricity demand is almost unprecedented and is envisioned to remain in this fashion for the foreseeable future. Adding to this, the fact that you can no longer build a power station or a transmission line without strict environmental considerations and processes as well as the integration of intermittent renewable generation, the challenges for the growth of such a system are intensified.
However, Africa is so rich in resources, from hydropower, geothermal, uranium (for nuclear power) as well as recent massive oil & gas discoveries, there is no doubt that if we come together, promote integration as a continent and plan collectively, the continent can only go from strength to strength.
2. What is your vision for this industry?
Considering the environmental and social considerations that are necessary before any electrical infrastructure can be built, I envisage the most responsible growth of an electricity sector that has ever been seen. The African energy industry is in a unique position to learn from the mistakes that other regions have made and leapfrog them in many respects into a place where both industry and the environment exist in synergy. Considering that the unspoilt beauty throughout Africa is probably unrivalled worldwide, this can only be a good thing.
3. Tell us more about your organisation and your activities in the utility industry?
Energy Exemplar® is the market leader in the technology of optimization-based energy market modelling. Our flagship product, PLEXOS® Integrated Energy Model (PLEXOS), is used by independent system operators, regulators, electric generation and transmission companies, gas producers and retailers, energy traders, regulatory and policy bodies, consultants and analysts across every region of the world for a wide range of applications from short-term analysis to long-term planning studies. PLEXOS is a truly next-generation energy market simulator with the most advanced mathematical programming engine producing robust, fully co-optimized solutions based on linear, mixed integer, quadratic and stochastic optimization.
4. Any specific project updates/success stories that you have been a part of in this sector that you can share?
Energy Exemplar has a close relationship with their client base which, through support, training and consultation, have helped develop PLEXOS® into what it is today, and what it will be tomorrow. Energy Exemplar are still relatively young on the African continent, and so we hope to be part of many success stories as the power of PLEXOS is utilised to strengthen the energy sector in Africa. However, we are still committed to the same ethos and have continued to assist our clients to enhance their use of PLEXOS and to ultimately allow the most optimal decisions to be taken for short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives.
5. You are part of the programme during this year’s African Utility Week in May – what will be your message at the event?
My message is: Plan and Optimise. Optimise how we use what we have, as well as plan how we build for the future. Whether this is a new-build power plant, a refurbishment or transmission capacity interconnectors to share generation and capacity reserves.
6. What are you most looking forward to at African Utility Week?
A forum at which the different ideas for the growth of the African energy sector can be put forward and discussed in an open public platform.
7. Anything you would like to add?
Be efficient, in your processes and in your energy use.