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Heeding the call for efficiency

Every level across the utilities value chain is exploring the best ways to optimise assets and operations

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eric Lamperti Alstom 2009

With GCC economies further tightening their budgets amid constrained revenues, efficiency is increasingly becoming the buzzword across utilities and other sectors.

While regional utilities have over the past years made efforts to drive efficiency, primarily on the demand side where water and energy consumption remain among the highest the world, this trend has now become top priority as every level across the value chain explores the best ways to optimise assets and operations.

In the wake of COP21, all signatory governments in the region are making efforts to lower the environmental footprint of their power generation.

Previous efforts such as reduction in subsidies have yielded positive results in mitigating water and power wastage, but utilities must further embrace modern technologies that are smarter and greener in order to enhance operational efficiency.

Power and water conservation is high on the agenda of most regional utilities. For instance, Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) is putting in place various mechanisms aimed at reducing consumption for domestic and commercial purposes by 30%.

Dubai, through the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), has set ambitious targets to improve the efficiency of energy use in the emirate, aiming for a 30% improvement by 2030.

As policies have expanded, so has investment in energy efficiency. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that global investment in energy efficiency was $221bn in 2015, an increase of 6% from 2014. Investment in efficiency was two-thirds greater than investment in conventional power generation in 2015, with the strongest investment seen in the buildings sector, at 9%.

Solutions providers are now stepping up their research and development (R&D) to address current and future market dynamics, and to push existing boundaries to deliver better results for customers.

For example, GE’s HA technology is gaining regional and global popularity as the world’s most efficient heavy duty gas turbine. In 2016, the technology helped France’s EDF set a record 62.22% combined cycle efficiency at its power plant in Bouchain.  

GE has also implemented a hybrid solution between battery storage and gas turbines (Page 36). The world’s first battery-gas turbine hybrid system is being demonstrated in Norwalk, California, at Southern California Edison (SCE). The system enables power producers to keep backup units completely switched off until they are really needed; the battery ensures consistent load during the entire start-up period.

This helps to ensure grid stability while lowering fuel consumption, which makes a combination of gas turbines with battery storage relevant for almost any power producer, even if renewables do not play a significant role in their particular power generation network.

GE Power is also supporting Iraq in overcoming its power challenges (page 38), working with the government and partners to rebuild damaged plants, upgrade power plants with advanced technology.

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