Nigeria has one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, and a case of related growing pains. Businesses want to take advantage of the new wealth and expand, but lagging infrastructure is holding them back. Power is at the top of the list. Blackouts are a daily occurrence. The country needs to invest an estimated $10 billion over the next 10 years to meet growing electricity demand. Many of the existing power plants are poorly maintained. But one quick solution is ready today. Compact power stations, known as distributed power, let towns and businesses generate their own electricity and heat.
Take a look at Diageo, the brewer of Guinness stout. The Irish enjoy a good pint of “the black stuff,” but in sheer volume they don’t come close to the Nigerians. Nigeria is now the beer’s second largest market for Guinness, after U.K. Imports won’t slake Nigeria’s thirst and Diageo, whose first Guinness brewery opened in the country 50 years ago, needs to add more brewing capacity. (Nigerians say they prefer the home brew because it tastes stronger.) But that also means more need for the country’s spotty power.
Good Things Come to Nigeria: GE’s Jenbacher engines power the Guinness Ogba brewery in Nigeria, the stout’s second largest market after U.K.
Five years ago Diageo declared energy independence in Nigeria and bought four of GE’s Jenbacher gas engines to power its three local breweries. This week the company added two more engines for brewing plants in Lagos and Benin City. Together, they will generate a combined 20 megawatts of electricity and about 9 megawatts of heat for Diageo.
The Jenbacher, which is part of GE’s ecomagination portfolio, is a good fit for the Nigerian market. It’s reliable, efficient, robust and omnivorous when it comes to fuel. This flexibility is important because it allows customers switch between fuels. The Diageo Jenbachers are burning natural gas, which at the moment costs almost 80 percent less than diesel in Nigeria.
Besides electricity, steam from the engines will aid the brewing process, and exhaust heat will power water chillers at the breweries. “This is an opportunity to realize significant operational costs savings,” says Patrick Regan, global sales leader for GE Food and Beverage Solutions. “We can typically expect a gas engine like the one being installed in Lagos to pay for itself within just 18 to 24 months.”
Guinness is not the only instance of Jenbachers stoking the beverage business. Last fall, Scotland’s Girvan Distillery, the home of Grant’s Scotch whisky, bought a Jenbacher to generate extra electricity and heat from biogas produced by malt leftover from distillation. Jenbachers are also helping to brew MillerCoors beers in the U.S., and Kirin in Japan. Cheers to that!