Sunday, October 2, 2016

Powering Douala: The 21-Day Installation of a 50 MW Natural Gas Power Plant that Added Reliable Power to Cameroon’s Grid

*On August 24, 2016, Altaaqa Global CEO Peter den Boogert presented at the Power-Gen Natural Gas conference in Ohio, USA. He spoke about the technology and innovations of the company's 50 MW natural gas power plant project in Douala, Cameroon. Here are the highlights of his talk.*

Altaaqa Global’s project in Douala, Cameroon is the fastest completed 50 MW natural gas power plant (in two sites, combined capacity) in the history of the energy industry. Installed, commissioned and powered on in only 21 days, the project was completed and delivered ahead of the target 30 days.

Background of the Project:

Douala, Cameroon’s largest city, was facing challenges in meeting the electricity demand of its residents, businesses, and industrial operations. Douala’s existing power infrastructure was unable to cope with the increased demand for electricity in the city. As a result of this, long hours of load shedding was implemented in the city, bringing inconvenience and health & safety risks to residents, and financial & opportunity losses to businesses and industries. 

In recognition of the urgency of the situation, the government of Cameroon and Eneo, the country’s integrated utility provider, sought for immediate solutions while long-term energy plans were being carried out.

Altaaqa Global, together with global natural gas supplier Gaz du Cameroon (GDC, a subsidiary of Victoria Oil and Gas) approached Eneo and presented a case for temporary power solutions. Recognizing the potential of the proposal to immediately resolve the power shortage in the city, Eneo decided to hire the services of Altaaqa Global.


The natural gas power plants had to be operational within 30 days from the time the equipment and engineering teams arrived at the site. In order to meet this deadline, installation procedures had to be done right at first instance, and the power plants had to be urgently installed and directly connected to the existing grid. 

Here are some of the highlights of the project:

Power plant design

For the power plant sites, Eneo provided locations that were already confined and that had specific dimensions and area limitations. Owing to this, the power plants should be specially designed to fit in the constrained space at the indicated sites. 

One of the major factors that contributed to the success of the power plant designs was the use of containerized, compact and modular power equipment. The fact that the equipment only required a minimal amount of space made it possible to provide ample clearance for the natural gas piping in the designs. 

Owing to this, we were able to fit the 20 MW and the 30 MW natural gas power plants in spaces approximately 30% smaller than the usually required. 

Logistical and manpower management

As the project involved the simultaneous installation of two separate power plants (one in Ndokoti (Bassa), and another one approximately 25 km away in Logbaba), it naturally required two contemporaneous shipments of equipment and deployment of two teams of personnel.  

It called for concurrent shipments of large-scale power equipment, including generators in 20- and 40-ft containers, transformers, switchgears, and medium-pressure gas trains. Two separate engineering teams comprising in-house and local engineers also had to be assembled and deployed. 

Despite the aforementioned complexity and the large number of equipment and personnel, the materials and the people safely arrived at the sites at the desired time, thanks to the collaboration among the different project stakeholders and support from different Cameroonian government agencies.

Connection to Douala’s grid

In order to work around Douala’s ageing power infrastructure, the power plants had to be able to directly connect to the grid despite the latter’s age, condition or quality. This was made possible by the technologically advanced transformation and switching equipment used in the project. 

Furthermore, the power plants did not require the construction or refurbishment of any sub-station before they can function. The power plants were able to “assume” the role of a sub-station, and directly connect to available overhead lines or transformers, particularly advantageous if sub-stations are not available. 

Environmental stewardship

The natural gas generators installed for the project comply with Caterpillar’s worldwide emission standards.  

Scalability and flexibility

Eneo required that the power plants should be able to uninterruptedly produce according to the changing electricity demand during the dry/low-rain seasons. Temporary power technologies proved to be the perfect solution to this requirement. 

Comprising high-efficiency generators, the installed temporary power plants were able to be ramped up or scaled down as the power demand increases or decreases. Owing to this, Eneo could easily choose to add or subtract power modules to the plant as necessary. 

Fast completion and urgent operation

Eneo set a strict delivery time of 30 days after the equipment and the people arrived at the site. In order to meet the deadline, the project had to be installed following a precise three-shift schedule that allowed for a 24/7 operation at both sites. The project management team, and both in-house and local engineers ensured that installation procedures were done right at first instance, to avoid redundancy and wasted man-hours. They, moreover, paid extra attention to the safety of the work area, in order to prevent injuries/casualties and, thus, lost man-hours.

The generators used for the project were configured as plug-and-play, and can be simply connected like Lego pieces. This allowed the engineering team to proceed to commissioning and testing, and power-on, ahead of schedule. 

Constant communication was also maintained with Gaz du Cameroun to guarantee the prompt delivery of the natural gas that would power the two power plants.

Impacts of the Project

Environmental impact

•Natural gas project in Douala, Cameroon is sustainable and energy efficient 

Economic impact

•Completed on budget and ahead of schedule
•Eneo did not need to spend scarce financial resources on capital expenditure or building or refurbishing permanent power infrastructure
•Utilized and monetized Cameroon’s unused natural gas reserves 
•Project represented a major gas supply contract to GDC
•Businesses and industries were again able to operate for longer hours, contributing to their productivity and profitability

Social impact

•Douala residents were supplied with electricity to carry on with their normal daily activities
•Schools, hospitals, clinics and other establishments were able to continue providing services to the people of Douala
•Job opportunities for local engineers and technical professionals
Training for the locals, transferring valuable engineering knowledge and know-how through Caterpillar University


The project has set a standard in the energy industry by proving that large-scale power plants can be installed and delivered in record time with technical expertise, appropriate technologies, and military-precise project execution. It has furthermore demonstrated that power plants can be both reliable and environmentally friendly. Altaaqa Global believes that the project will continue to be an industry benchmark, as more emerging markets require sustainable and environmentally conscious large-scale power solutions.  

The power plants have been consistently delivering electricity to Cameroon’s national grid. Such a boost in the electricity supply allowed Eneo to bridge the power supply deficit in Douala, benefitting its residents and businesses.

“Our services may be called temporary, 
but the effects of what we do last for generations”


Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

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