A Transformative Time for Power
By Joseph Anis, President & CEO of GE’s Power Services business in the Middle East and Africa
I’ve been on the road a lot over the past few months — from Algeria to Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. What’s clear to everyone in the region’s power sector is that we are witnessing a significant transformation of the industry. Strong forces are driving this change: growing commitments to reduce emissions, policies seeking a more diverse fuel mix, digitization and a drive to lower costs.
In conversation after conversation with customers, four key priorities emerge: improve efficiency, increase output, expand flexibility and boost reliability – all in a manner that pays for itself. Because MENA’s energy needs are still growing rapidly, the imperative is toward smarter spending and lower costs, with partnerships that unlock new means to finance projects.
“Efficiency”, especially, has gone from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have.”
To achieve this, different countries are taking different approaches. Some countries in our region are working toward greater interconnectivity, through multi-country transmission and distribution networks. In other areas, the focus is on developing more small-scale, distributed power projects.
There is a need for full value chain partners in the region who can look at both a specific asset or customer, as well as across the entire electricity value network (EVN) – from power generation, to transmission and distribution, to consumption – to unlock the greatest value. A mix of solutions implemented across the network can deliver cumulatively significant outcomes.
Begin with the selection of the most efficient power generation equipment and then upgrade existing assets so they operate more efficiently. Add services that ensure smooth operations, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) digital applications that can enhance plant or system operations by offering predictive insights on problems before they occur. Then link power generation infrastructure with robust transmission and distribution infrastructure.
An example of what such an end-to-end approach can achieve is offered by the IIoT opportunity: the World Economic Forum estimates that digital solutions applied globally across the electricity sector could achieve US$1.3 trillion in industry value between 2016-2025.
Another example comes from one of our forward-looking customers in Pakistan. GE’s digital industrial solutions implemented at two of the Hub Power Company Ltd (HUBCO) power plants are helping to reduce their downtime and improve efficiency by a significant 3.5%.
We explored these and other related topics during the GE-hosted “Transforming Power” conference that was held in Dubai a few days ago, bringing together power sector industry champions, government representatives, key decision-makers and influencers from across the region.
There was broad-based agreement that while we may be at a significant turning point, the tools and technologies available offered a wide window of opportunity to drive efficiencies and operational improvements while lowering costs and meeting growing energy demand across the region. It’s up to us now to shape this transformative age of power.