Business briefing : utilities

Business briefing : utilities

As organisations within the MENA region have been announcing big money plans for new electrical power installations two recent, highly disruptive and much publicised incidents in America have highlighted the necessity of ensuring the equipment is super-efficient and protected with effective fire safety equipment.

It was in the tourist-filled heart of the New York borough of Manhattan, that a Saturday night visit to watch Broadway shows turned into chaos after a power failure in a substation. The blackout saw theatregoers spilling out into the streets with the  chance  of returning to their hotels reduced because electric trains were unable to use the local subway lines.

The famous towering screens in Times Square were blacked out and an estimated 73,000 customers in a 30-block stretch between the square and Broadway found themselves without power for close on five hours.

Just a few days later in the centre of Madison, the state capital of Wisconsin, there was an explosion and two fires in the main power station belonging to the Madison Gas and Electric company which forced the complete evacuation of the nearby Ogg Hall campus of the city’s university along with a recreation centre.

Electrical faults are also the principle cause of 30 deaths, 4,000 injuries and around 8,000 house fires every year in the United Kingdom and they are mainly caused by appliance breakdowns or cable faults.

Such statistics and stories and the need for fire safe utilities will not be lost in oblivion when plans are finalised and work starts on the some of the big contracts that have recently been negotiated by MENA companies
and authorities.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has revealed its plans to build five new 400 kV substations, on a budget of USd$599 which will add to its 22 substations already in the emirate, the latest of which was only inaugurated early this year.

Dewa’s managing director and chief executive officer, HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, said the utility authority’s production capacity has reached 11,100 MW in 2019, with peak demand for electricity recorded at 8,507 MW in 2018, growing 3.34% over the 2017 figures.

He added: “The five 400 kV substations will greatly contribute to Dewa’s efforts to meet the increasing demand for water and electricity in Dubai.”

He added that Dewa has allocated USD$23.5bn for investment in Dubai’s energy sector over the next five years, with plans including the expansion of its 132km power transmission network by ramping up the number of transport stations. Looking further ahead he announced “We will establish another 68 substations over the next three years, with a total investment of $2.1bn.”

Meanwhile Siemens has announced that it has signed an agreement with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) to supply the country with its first digital power transformer, The Sensformer. 

As the world’s first comprehensive digital transformer, Sensformer, is expected to increase energy reliability and efficiency for the existing Kafr El Sheikh and New Zagazig 500/220-kilovolt (kV) substations for the delta area, a highly loaded link of the transmission grid in northern Egypt.

Egypt’s energy network is in the midst of a transformation. Increased power generation capacity, the move towards renewables integration as well as more cross-border electricity flows are transforming the energy landscape and posing new challenges for Egypt’s transmission grid.

 “As a result of Egypt’s energy transition, the demands placed on our grid infrastructure are continually increasing, ” said Sabah Meshaly, Chairman of EETC. “Digitalisation of key elements in power grid infrastructure, such as transformers, can certainly help optimise energy distribution and reduce electricity losses.”

And Rafiq Hussain, Siemens’ senior vice president in the Middle East, added: “The power industry is currently undergoing significant change with the evolution of energy networks into decentralised, decarbonised and digitalised systems. Our intelligent transformers pave the way for the Internet of Energy,”

New electrical production work is also on the drawing board in Saudi Arabia where the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) has signed eight contracts worth a total of USD$850.6m for the construction of substations across the Kingdom

Their CEO Ali bin Saleh Al-Barrak said  the deals are designed to help meet rising power demand across the country and added: “The projects will raise the level of electrical services provided by SEC and increase its reliability by providing stable and uninterrupted usage,”

Riyadh, Jeddah, and Qassim will all get new substations and the projects are expected to be competed in just over a year’s time and the need for them was backed up by some statistics provided by Al-Barrack.

He pointed out that according to SEC records power consumption in Saudi Arabia has increased from 1,940.72 kilo watt per hour in the 1980s to a current level of 8,022 which  Naif Al-Abadi, director general of the Saudi Energy Efficiency Centre has said is an “alarmingly high rate of energy consumption in Saudi Arabia.”

Despite reports in Europe and America that faulty solar energy panels are a frequent cause of domestic fire incidents as well posing a threat to the countryside when placed in fields as commercial energy source, Oman has unveiled plans to increase the state’s electricity supply through new solar and mega wind projects.

Announcing plans for a four-year development programme H E Salim bin Nasser al Aufi, Under Secretary of the Ministry of Oil and Gas said that sustainability is at the forefront as Oman embarks on the deployment of renewable energy projects and the pipeline is full of initiatives in this field that will yield benefits for current and future generations.

Meanwhile the HH Sheik Ahmed Dalmoor Al Maktoum the head of Africa Middle East Resource Investment (AMERI Group) has decided to make an investment worth USD$2 billion in Angola’s energy and agricultural sector after a meeting with the country’s President Joao Laurenco.

A desalination project has been pencilled in for the Angolan coast to improve the potable water supply and there will also be an investment in new gas production to reduce the country’s reliance on electricity as it plans to expand its industrial sector.

The agreement makes note of plans for a power station in the Moxico province, as well as an electrical network to connect Angola’s eastern region.

The announcement follows the penning of a memorandum of understanding by HH Al Maktoum and Angola’s minister of Energy and Waters, João Baptista Borges, during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week at the start of this year.

The UAE’s first nuclear power station is  set to start operating by early 2020, Nawah Energy Company said in a recent statement announcing the award of a maintenance contract for the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, Nawah said it is preparing to commence operations of the first unit between the end of 2019 and early 2020, pending regulatory approval.

Nawah said it has signed a long term maintenance services agreement with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), supported by KEPCO Plant Service & Engineering (KPS). Under the scope of the contract, KHNP and KPS will provide maintenance services to support routine and outage maintenance activities of the four units of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi emirate.

KHNP and KPS will also provide manpower in the form of supervisory and management experts, as well as maintenance leadership. KHNP will also conduct testing, diagnostics, inspections, maintenance and replacement services for both the nuclear and non-nuclear components of the Barakah plant.

Nawah, as the future holder of the Operating License from the UAE’s independent regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), will hold all regulatory responsibilities for operations and maintenance of the Barakah plant.

Mark Reddemann, CEO of Nawah, said: “We are delighted to have secured a long-term maintenance services relationship with KHNP and KPS. Through this agreement, we have created a robust framework of maintenance services providers that combine the best-in-class maintenance expertise in thermal and nuclear plant infrastructure and expertise in the APR1400 technology.”

Construction of Barakah unit 1 began in 2012 and was completed in 2018. In parallel, construction of units 2, 3 and 4 is progressing and the overall completion of the Barakah plant is now more than 93 percent.

Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia has plans for two large nuclear plants to cope with its national energy demands,  which are increasing  by more than eight percent annually. Initial land-clearing work has also begun for a  nuclear facility at Akkuyu,  on Turkey’s southern coast. While  Egypt  is due to start building a nuclear power plant in El Dabaa, west of Alexandria, next year. Jordan also has  plans  for a number of smaller nuclear facilities.