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Powering the largest data centre in Nigeria when it can’t rely on the grid, a cost saving solution

Client: Welbeck Electricity Distribution Ltd

Location: Lagos, Nigeria

Sectors: Data centres

The Challenge

Develop and install a cost-effective, reliable alternative to diesel backup power ensuring zero downtime

Welbeck Electricity is the main contractor for Nigeria’s leading telecom company, MTN Nigeria PLC. Welbeck came to Aggreko looking for a new power solution for MTN’s Lagos data centre as they were having too many outages and costs were getting consistently higher.

MTN had been primarily reliant on a combination of grid power and diesel generators. However, with the grid being so unreliable in the region, the cost of using the generators was spiralling and the need to find a cheaper and more stable alternative to protect the efficiency of their operations was paramount.

This was our first project together and was an exciting venture for Aggreko in Nigeria as it reinforced the strategy to join forces with more Independent Power Producers (IPPs), with Welbeck bringing their opportunity to the table, we were able to offer the solution.

In this case the end user was MTN Nigeria PLC - the largest telecommunications company in Nigeria. Due to the scale of company and the amount of data that is exchanged daily, they have one of the largest data centres in Lagos which ultimately controls all MTN’s traffic across West Africa.

Previously the data centre had been on the grid which had been unreliable, so unreliable that 95% of the time, power was from a temporary diesel generator on site.

Because of the frequency of use, operating cost for the diesel generators was high. Welbeck wanted to eradicate unreliable grid power stopping high operating cost on their overheads - they contacted Aggreko to develop a cost-effective power solution.

Project fact file

gas power to site 5MW
to install the solution at the site 2Weeks
Gas Generators 5 QSK 60

The Solution

Environmentally friendly gas generators installed within a tight timeline and site logistical issues

Aggreko liaised with the customer to ensure that the specific requirements for this project were adhered to. With diesel cost being a concern in the country, a gas-powered alternative was found which would ensure around a 40% saving compared to the original alternative. This also was cheaper when factoring in both fuel and maintenance cost.

Thrilled with the proposed new proposition, MTN gave the green light for this and in December 2018, Aggreko installed five QSK 60 gas generator units. Each producing 1375 kVA resulting in a total of 5 MW for the site. This included the scope for redundancy on the site - ensuring no downtime would occur.

The global presence of Aggreko was efficiently demonstrated here as the kit installed was local, meaning a drastic reduction in delivery time and ensuring that the installation over Christmas was met.

The location of the site posed its own problems, installing the kit meant that a special crane commissioned by Aggreko had to be used. Aside from physical constraints, a tight timeline of delivery also faced the team during the Christmas period of 2018 which resulted in the customer having a very aggressive timeline. This new solution had to be operational by the new year.

The workforce on the ground was made up of 100% Aggreko personnel. Local technicians were employed and trained by Aggreko coupled with service engineers to ensure kit was maintained and monitored effectively.

We also recommended the addition of our battery storage solution to provide further resilience and increase the green credentials of the facility.

The Impact

Zero downtime for the data centre and further development of the site to include battery storage solutions

Once commissioned, the new power solution took just two weeks to install. The site has been running on gas generators since 2018, saving MTN considerable expenditure compared to the previous cost of diesel power.

With a guarantee of 97% availability made by us there has been no downtime for the data centre since the addition of our kit on the site.

We are now planning to introduce our lithium-ion battery solution as a spinning reserve. This will further increase redundancy and reliability to ensure even smoother operation of the data centre and simultaneously reduce emissions by cutting fuel consumption. While supporting the vital changes that are taking place on the ever-changing landscape due to the energy transition.

This proposition was a trust piece for sure, allowing us to gain the contract for further work with MTN in Apapa for a 2 MW site. We also managed (due to success of these two sites) to gain the trust of another vendor to power the head office of MTN in Lagos – a further 3 MW deal.

Vendors now are coming to approach MTN and showcasing Aggreko as its technical partner based on the success of these projects. As a result, MTN are happy as the relationship and delivery have been on time and had been commercially viable.

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