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Power generation in the Middle East: what’s next?

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Power generation; a hot topic for Government officials, delegates and neutrals alike, and one that is here to stay!

The way in which we generate power is essential, for energy efficiency, for the environment and for security and right now, all eyes are on the Middle East.

Why? Well, electricity demand has been growing at a rapid rate, between 6% and 8% CAGR. This has meant that the Middle East is having to up their game in the energy stakes, and spearhead a power generation movement for all to follow.

2015 was a ground breaking year for solar in the Middle East and North Africa; so much so that it reached the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, spring boarding them as leaders in using renewable energy sources to generate power. In fact, investments in solar projects increased dramatically, to approximately $3.5billion in 2015 from a mere $160million in 2010.

And there are no signs of slowing down. According to a report, it is predicted that more than 4 GW of solar power projects will go ahead across the Middle East this year, meaning that more and more power will be generated from renewable sources in order to meet the rising demands for electricity.

This means that the UAE, Algeria and Morocco are due to get 10% more of power generated by solar by 2020. This could, therefore put the Middle East back on the map in the renewable world; putting them on track to reach 15 GW and $50billion worth of solar investments by 2020, and 15% of clean energy by 2030.

In addition to this, gas turbine technology will continue to grow throughout the Middle East, not only for power generation but for energy efficiency as well.

This will see an increasing number of power plants installing gas turbines to produce electrical currents, converting natural gas to mechanical energy, then driving a generator to produce electrical energy. Not only are there environmental benefits to this, but economic as well; from sustainability, to job generation, to affordability.

At the beginning of this month, Saudi Electricity Company turned to General Electric (GE) to supply them with six more gas turbine packages for power plant locations in Jizan and Tabouk, as a means of meeting the demand for fast power in isolated areas. This follows the commissioning of 5 of these turbines to supply power throughout Saudi Arabia in 2015.

These units combined will generate enough power to supply almost 70,000 homes across Saudi Arabia.

Competitors, like Siemens, have developed turbine technology which has achieved record levels of electrical efficiency and power generating capacity. Considering that they believe that more than 65% of the power generation in the Middle East will come from natural gas fired power plants by 2030, it makes a lot of sense to continue development of these resources.

Whilst a simple turbine can achieve an energy efficiency of 20-35%, higher temperatures and excess heat from the system could mean an energy efficiency of up to 80%!

2016 will also see the rise of coal fired power plants, but technologies are being developed in order to mitigate the negative environmental impact from power generated by coal. This has seen Harbin Electric in China and ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia commit to exploring the power generating market by building a coal fired power plant in Dubai to supply the World Exhibition in 2020.

As electricity demand increases across the globe, it is essential that a reliable energy mix is created in order to accommodate such a significant growth. How we do this? We’ll keep you posted!