Demand for energy in the Middle East is outpacing population growth, triggering a massive increase in power generation projects. But this boom is different. Governments are adding renewables to the mix, with the goal of freeing up more of the region’s abundant fossil fuels for exports and reducing emissions.
One partial solution to this problem is adopting more efficient power generating equipment, such as the SGT5-9000HL gas turbine from Siemens which provides enough electricity to meet the needs of a city, or a country, with 3.3 million inhabitants.
GCC countries need to boost capacity by 62 gigawatts over the next four years to meet future electricity, according to the multilateral development bank Apicorp. In Saudi Arabia alone, peak demand is expected to rise 30 percent by 2022.
While the composition of the electricity generation mix is evolving quickly, fossil fuels are expected to maintain a large share for decades. And this makes investments in improving the efficiency of existing power plants critical to governments and utilities that want to have secure, stable and sustainable supplies. By modernising power plants and replacing old turbines with new, highly efficient ones, we can make a difference in fossil fuel consumption and reduce emissions.
Siemens has been focusing on extracting efficiency from its turbines to meet this challenge. The company’s technology can boost the efficiency threshold of some of its turbines to more than 63%, helping power plants run cleaner and maximise the use of fuel. This new generation of turbines is called “HL”-class.
A plant’s efficiency refers to its ability to use more fuel to produce electricity. At a gas power plant with 63%, almost two-thirds of the gas fed into the facility generates power, while the rest is converted into heat. This heat is either lost or, in a combined cycle power plant, used in steam turbines to produce additional power.
Every percentage point of improvement in plant efficiency represents millions of US dollars in fuel savings, reduced emissions, and increased output. In Egypt, for example, the government now saves $1.3 billion in fuel costs annually thanks to energy-efficient power plants.
Yet in many countries around the world, older units operate at efficiencies of 40 percent or lower. This statistic shows how much can be achieved if all power plants run more efficiently.
Technological breakthroughs like the “HL”-class turbine, which can be fired using gas that comes from renewable energy, are poised to drive sustainability on many levels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change requires a true energy transition, by utilising all possible efficiency enhancements in existing power plants, by integrating all renewable energy capacities, and by expanding and improving interconnection of grid infrastructures.
“HL”-class gas turbines can make a strong impact on a nation’s energy posture and can help beat climate change by making energy cleaner.
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