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Mon 29 Mar 2010 04:00 AM

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Power player

Sylvain Hijazi, Alstom country president, Gulf Region, talks to Utilities Middle East about the company's future plans, new technologies in the sector and the renewable energy question.

Power player
Sylvain Hijazi, Alstom country president, Gulf region.
Power player
The Fujairah 2 power plant in the UAE.

Sylvain Hijazi, Alstom country president, Gulf Region, talks to Utilities Middle East about the company's future plans, new technologies in the sector and the renewable energy question.

Roughly what percentage of Alstom's business is in the Middle East currently?

For the Alstom Group as a whole, for the year ended 31 March 2009, the Middle East and Africa accounted for 25% of received orders, and 13% of sales were destined for that region.

And for the first nine months of 2009/10, sales to the Middle East and Africa amounted to some 19% of our global sales.

How do you see this changing in the future?

The Middle East will continue to be an important market for Alstom. Alstom's product offering is well adapted to the needs of the region as demonstrated with the Fujairah 2000MW power and desalination plant using the GT26 gas turbines, the Sohar Aluminium power plant using our GT13E2 gas turbines, which are well suited to the needs of the aluminium industry and the 5.6GW Shoaiba oil fired steam plant in Saudi Arabia built using our plant integrator solution.

How is Alstom adapting to the changing face of the sector?

I believe we must find ways to kick-start new growth momentum that can factor in the pressures on the planet as a whole. The fact is Alstom is actively working in the various types of infrastructure that are at the very centre of the debate on economic growth. This means we must work out new ground rules. We are working on this and it's not something that is going to happen overnight.

What lessons do you believe have been learnt during the economic crisis? How did it affect your sector?

Alstom as a whole has seen that our customers are reluctant to put in major orders. We have a stream of small- and medium-sized orders, but with respect to large projects, customers are waiting to see if the economy is really getting back on its feet.

How big a part do you believe renewable energies have to play in the future?

Technology mix has a significant role to play in the mitigation of CO2 emissions from power generation. No single form of power generation will address both the secure supply of reliable and affordable energy, and the rapid transformation to a low carbon system of energy supply. Furthermore, international figures show that mix evolution can strongly contribute to reducing emissions by 2030, even with a bigger energy production.

Alstom has no single preferred technology: each fuel category has its pros and cons.With the most comprehensive and balanced portfolio of generation equipment in the market, including the removal of traditional pollutants, we offer the best technology mix so that each plant operator can choose a clean and balanced portfolio that takes into account environmental regulations. This is for all plants (whether new or existing), all energy sources, and all emissions.

What are your hopes for the next 18 months?

My hopes for the next 18 months are that Alstom is able to increase its market share on all of its axis - new power generation projects, fume treatment for the industrial market, in particular aluminium smelters and in the service market for both the power and industrial markets.

What new technology is the firm employing?

Let's take the four main fuels - natural gas, coal, water and nuclear - used for power generation. For gas, we've moved to an incremental improvement strategy, making small changes to the existing GT26/GT13 gas turbines. New technologies, such as single crystal blading alloys, improve the turbine's lifetime and reduce the cost, while the flow coming through the compressor has been increased. To reduce outages, we optimise simulation methods of the lifetime operation of the plant. Fuel flexibility and plant integration are other important issues.

For coal, the efficiency of a coal-fired plant is driven by the steam conditions: the highest the temperature and the pressure, the better conditions. With machines operating at 620°C, we've the most competitive steam turbine in the market place. Further steps include design of larger plants and materials development (advanced steels, nickel-based alloys) to raise temperature up to 700-750°C and bring efficiency up to 50%.

Hydro turbines and generators are already very efficient. There is a growing demand for pump storage capacity for peak power generation and grid balancing services as an increasing proportion of renewable energies are connected to the grids. In nuclear, we are extending the power range to produce 1000MW and 1750MW turbines for both 50 and 60 Hz.

At the heart of our plant integrator and smart energy capabilities is our energy management business, which has strong expertise in control applications across all fuels, as well as a comprehensive product platform - named ALSPA - to control and manage power plant assets individually as well as a portfolio of power plants. Alstom has been present in these digital technologies from the 1990s, and in 2009 we launched the latest version of the ALSPA platform, the ALSPA Series 6 in Europe, Asia and US. First commercial successes have been really quick with over 15 power plants being equipped with this new platform.

Can the environmental impact be reduced?

The biggest technological challenge right now is in CO2 capture. The target set in Europe for CO2 reduction is 50% to 60% by 2050. Alstom's strategy for clean power is based around providing CO2 mitigation technologies for both new and, more importantly, existing plants. Consequently, we are working on five technologies, based on the three principles to capture CO2 (post-combustion, oxyfiring, pre-combustion).

 

Case study: Fujairah 2

Alstom installed its product platform ALSPA to control and manage power plant assets at a Fujairah based power and desalination plant.

ALSPA architectures have been successfully rolled out on several large sites in the Middle East. One of the largest installations, and most advanced projects, is located in Fujairah for the new desalinisation plant. The control system ensures optimal coordination of the traditional power plant island consisting of a combined heat and power cycle feeding a desalinisation unit.

The ALSPA system controls all power plant process units and offers a single window harmonised environment across all plant process items. The system controls both the power plant and the desalination plant, allowing consistent operation and control through the same ALSPA control philosophy.

The project demonstrates the scalability of the architecture to power and other processes, positioning the architecture as a leading component of the deployments of future eco cities combining all related grids - electricity, heat, water and CO2 - into a consistent control and optimisation architecture.

The contract was signed with the project development consortium comprising International Power Plc and Marubeni Corp - who are implementing the project in partnership with the government-owned major utility Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) who initiated the project. A consortium comprising Alstom and Sidem, with Alstom supplying the power plant and Sidem the desalination plant.

Under the contract, Alstom is providing all engineering, procurement and construction services for the turnkey supply of the 2000 MW combined-cycle power plant based on the GT26 gas turbine, including the in-house supply of all main equipment, which comprises five GT26 gas turbines, five heat recovery steam generators (HRSG), three steam turbines, eight turbogenerators and associated control systems. Sidem is supplying the 130 million imperial gallons per day hybrid desalination plant, which is based on and built with multi-effect distillation as well as reverse osmosis technologies.

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