Ask Jérôme Jouaville, Director of Europe West Sales, Wärtsilä Energy Business, about the highpoints in his career at Wärtsilä and the Essakane project is at the top of his list.
“The Essakane gold mine in Burkina Faso is powered by Africa’s largest engine-solar PV (photovoltaic system) hybrid power plant,” says Jérôme. “It is Wärtsilä designed and built and it is the biggest hybrid plant in the world on island mode. I’ll always be proud of the effort we put into making this our signature achievement.”
The project proves that a future driven by 100% renewable energy is possible and Jérôme credits its success to teamwork.
“Essakane reinforced the feeling that teamwork and having the right people on board are the key ingredients,” he says. “The learning curve was steep and fast as it was completely new to sell a PV plant to hybridise an existing power plant. But the whole team was focused and committed. Our internal communications were coordinated and spot-on, which was also a great contributor to our success.”
A man of many talents
Jérôme has had a long and storied career in the energy industry, working in markets as diverse as Cambodia, countries in Northern and Southern Africa, and also in Europe. During this time, he has taken on different roles, as a Project Manager, a Business Development Manager, and in executing various turn-key power plant projects as a Site Construction Manager. The one constant through all of this has been the kind of people he has worked with.
“I have changed positions many times and therefore colleagues around me have also changed, so I consider myself fortunate to have always worked with teams of smart, quick, and of course hard-working people,” explains Jérôme. “If that was not the case, it would have been difficult to tackle the challenges we’ve had so far.”
This was most evident during the Sasol project, where Jérôme and his team had to conduct performance tests of a 185 MW gas power plant.
“We had to run 16 out of 18 engines at full load for two hours and we needed to make one test during the night and one during the day,” he explains. “The entire team went to work at 2 a.m. that day to get ready to perform the first performance test which was starting at 4 a.m. We continued to work until late in the afternoon with the second test to ensure that everything was done and approved by the customer. The feeling of accomplishment the team shared in this job well-done was indescribable."
Changing with the times
As a veteran in the energy space, Jérôme is in a position to see how the industry has had to adapt and change to keep pace with opportunities and advances in technology.
“The energy industry has changed a lot – but by necessity. If you do not change, you will disappear because the world evolves at a very fast pace,” he says. “From that perspective, it is good that Wärtsilä too has evolved with the times, on the product side and in terms of scope, delivery and sales of projects. However, there is still room for us to be more flexible, smarter and more agile.”
That is something Jérôme is working on achieving: he utilises his skills and experience to help his colleagues, and by extension Wärtsilä, push through to the next level.
“I believe I am a sharing leader and I always try to help and support people, so they are more efficient, quicker and feel more comfortable at work,” explains Jérôme. “This can go a long way in creating a more agile organisation.”
When he is not busy thinking of new strategies to grow Wärtsilä’s business in Europe, Jérôme enjoys spending time with his family and friends, often playing a weekly game of tennis or hiking in summer and skiing in winter.