Driving Energy Efficiency for a Sustainable Future
As countries across the Middle East and North Africa refine their sustainability goals, they are recognizing that adopting renewable energy is not enough. They must also prioritize energy efficiency in existing and new power generation capacity, across both conventional and renewable power technologies.
This means building new power plants that use the latest, most efficient technologies, and upgrading existing assets to be more efficient. Both approaches help to improve sustainability and lower lifecycle costs.
The UAE, for example, in its Energy Strategy 2050 has set a goal, not only to derive half its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, but also to reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70% during the period.
Saudi Arabia has launched the Saudi Energy Efficiency Center that is focused on improving fuel use by the Kingdom’s utilities sector.
GE is supporting these efforts across the region, from new gas turbine technology that delivers record-setting efficiency, to upgrades that allow conventional power plants to produce more electricity from the same amount of fuel, to an innovative first-of-a-kind wind turbine blade.
GE Power’s record-setting HA heavy-duty gas turbine technology is the world’s most efficient, now available at more than 64% efficiency in a combined-cycle configuration. When it comes to gas turbines, these percentages make a big difference, since every 1% increase in efficiency can translate to millions of dollars in annual fuel savings.
In an environment with a steadily growing share of renewable energy, supplies of which can often be intermittent, the HA’s industry-leading operating flexibility is important. Capable of ramping up or down at up to 88 megawatts per minute while still meeting emissions requirements, the turbine can help to balance grid instability.
GE’s HA gas turbines are already being deployed by power plant operators in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan region. Several units have already entered commercial operations in Pakistan; it will be used to power the world’s largest single-site smelter at Aluminum Bahrain (ALBA) and will be at the heart of a new 1,800-megawatt (MW) power plant in Sharjah, UAE.
More power, the same fuel
New equipment technology is just one of the ways GE Power is driving efficiency across economies in the region. Gas turbine upgrade packages can help the hundreds of existing turbines operating in the region to improve output per unit of fuel consumed and reduce emissions.
For example, GE’s Advanced Gas Path (AGP) solution has been installed on more than 435 gas turbines across 39 countries on five continents, generating $775 million a year in benefits for power producers. A number of power plants and industrial users in the region, including in the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have already implemented the upgrades.
These include gas turbines at Saudi Cement’s Hofuf plant, which have increased their efficiency by up to 3.3% per turbine. Similar upgrades at the Sabiya West CCGT Power Plant in Kuwait improved the output of turbines there by more than 6%.
The biggest blade
In the field of renewables, GE innovation also is helping maximize generating efficiencies. In wind power, for example, GE Renewable Energy’s new 5MW-range Cypress onshore wind platform features a first-in-the-industry two-piece blade, and a turbine capacity exceeding 5 MW.
Two-piece blades can be made longer than single-piece blades, providing wind farm developers the opportunity to achieve higher annual energy production. Combined with a large turbine size, which makes it possible to generate more capacity with fewer turbines, the large blade helps drive down the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), making projects more affordable.
GE also is developing hybrid power plant technologies that look to achieve efficiencies in both the allocation of capital through lower infrastructure construction costs and in operating expenses. These plants will incorporate wind, solar, and battery technologies. This allows for the sharing of balance-of-plant infrastructure and electricity transmission lines.
By bringing wind and solar, and/or energy storage together with a single control system, more electricity can be generated from the plant more often, since when the wind is low, it might be sunny, and conversely, at night or in cloudy weather, the wind might be blowing.
Across all these platforms, from new gas-fired power plants, to wind farms and even conventional steam power, GE is bringing its expertise in digitization and the industrial internet of things to unlock further power plant efficiencies.
Ensuring that all types of power generation are operating to the most efficient extent their technologies allow will become an even greater priority for utilities and governments across the region. GE can help operators to continually drive down costs and drive up output, as they seek ever-greater efficiencies.
Read more about GE Power’s contribution to a more sustainable future across the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan region.