UN Sustainable Development Goals


Helping achieve the UN’s sustainability goals
– one power plant at a time

Imagine you don’t have electricity to charge your phone or access the internet. No lights at night to read.  

That’s the reality for 1.1 billion people worldwide, according to UN figures. In addition, 3 billion do not have access to electricity or gas for cooking; instead, they rely on primitive, inefficient cooking methods that release microparticles in the air that cause respiratory problems and other health care issues.

Goals for the planet’s future

In 2005, the UN announced 17 sustainable development goals, or SDGs, which need to be reached by 2030.

As a builder and operator of high-efficiency power plants, the 7th SDG, ‘Affordable, clean energy’ is a key focus area of BWSC.

With these numbers, it becomes understandable why UN officials consider the 7th Sustainability Goal, “Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, as one of its most crucial goals.

That’s because once a country secures a stable, affordable energy source, other SDGs become more easily attainable. Instead of using extensive amounts of time to gather firewood or other organic fuels for cooking, homemakers can reduce cooking times and other household chores. That frees up time for education, securing a job or other economic activities.  Air quality is improved and economic growth (SDG8) is bolstered as well. 

Clean, affordable baseload power

Our turnkey power plant in Mali, completed in Autumn 2018, is a good example of how BWSC power plants can deliver affordable, clean energy to developing countries. 

Before Kayes came online, Mali’s power supply was critically under capacity and limited due to transmission and distribution constraints. About two-thirds of the country, or about 12 million people, did not have any access to electricity.  If they had access, it came from ageing, polluting diesel-powered emergency generators or a handful of hydroelectric power stations whose output dwindled during droughts. 

So it’s understandable why thousands of people lined the streets of Kayes in western Mali to celebrate the inauguration of our nearby power plant.  

Jørgen Petersen, project director at Kayes, admits he was a bit awestruck by the turnout as the BWSC motorcade made its way from the airport to the site. 

“We’re not used to that kind of welcome,” says Jørgen. “It underscores how much the power plant means for the locals and for all of Mali.” 

When the president flipped the switch at Kayes on 31 October 2018, however, Mali took an important step toward securing affordable clean energy. In an instant, the country’s electrical capacity was boosted by about 20 percent – enough to supply hundreds of thousands of households as well as businesses, hospitals and schools. 

As noted above, much of Mali depended on off-grid, diesel-powered generators that have relatively higher CO2 emissions compared to a BWSC power plant. By producing power from a safe, well-regulated location and distributing it to the grid from Kayes, BWSC’s estimates suggest that Mali cuts CO2 emissions by about 90,000 tonnes annually. 

And since heavy fuel oil costs 30% less than diesel, private businesses and customers end up spending less on fuel and electricity than they would if they continued using remote generators. 

In this way, a state-of-the-art power plant can provide a platform for producing clean, affordable base load power in a climate-friendly manner. 

The World Bank and the energy industry is keen on phasing out fossil fuels, but it’s worth noting that the EU’s CO2 emissions per capita are about 70 times more than Mali’s.

Power to the people

Our projects in Mali and other countries in West Africa demonstrate that together with visionary investors, BWSC can play a key role in helping to realise the UN’s sustainable development goals, says Flemming Juel Jensen, Commercial Director for Hybrid Energy Systems.

“As power plant specialists, we have a unique ability – and responsibility – to help countries develop their power production,” says Flemming. “Our key competence is the ability to develop, build and operate power plants. We engage with stakeholders and boost energy production in a short time span.”

He adds that while BWSC has delivered biomass fired power plants throughout Northern Europe, hybrid-based solutions secure a reliable solid baseline in difficult operating environments by providing  a foundation upon which energy planners can build.

“Relying solely on renewable energy is simply not an option in some countries where infrastructure and economics are prohibitive,” says Flemming. “But by integrating renewables with engine based-power plants, we can ensure a solid energy baseload that brings the SDGs closer to realisation.”

Kayes power plant

90 MWe of power produced by six Caterpillar engines

Inaugurated 31 October 2018

Reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly 90,000 tons compared to using off-grid diesel generators

Hybrid expansion currently being explored