Published May 31, 2017, 10:00 PM By Myrna M. Velasco
Beni Suef, Egypt – With exquisitely streamlined approval processes on power projects, Egypt has not only solved its crippling energy crisis but it was also able to provide cheaper electricity rates to its consumers while also doing its noble share in helping solve global warming dilemmas.
For main project developer Siemens AG, Germany’s energy giant conglomerate, it primarily etched a record that could be for the world’s envy on the 8.0 billion euros (US$8.8 billion) mega-power project in Egypt that will yield 14,400 megawatts (MW) of aggregate capacity upon full completion and commercial operations at all of the three power stations in May 2018.
In a briefing with global journalists, Siemens Egypt Chief Executive Officer Emad Ghaly noted that the three new gas-fired power facilities will satiate the electricity needs of about 45 million Egyptian consumers, roughly half of the country’s 93 million population.
He said it is their hope that the fast-track implementation of this project could open some avenues and be taken as ‘best practice model’ for other countries that have some dilemmas on either long and tricky processes of projects approvals as well as in meeting the customers’ need for sufficient, affordable and reliable power.
Ghaly added that the fast-track implementation of the three projects draw firm lessons from the Egyptian government’s determination “to solve a power supply crisis that have caused 2-3 hours of blackouts at its peak in September 2014” – that was then critically pestering its consumers and had likewise been practically stalling their country’s economic growth.
That then prompted the discussion for the construction of three gas-fired power projects – with initial talks kicking off in March 2015 and firming up of agreements coming in relatively swift around June; while financial closing achieved in a record-breaking timeline of five months in November 2015.
This also served as an opportunity for Egypt to retire its heavy fuel oil-fed power facilities as well as convert its simple cycle gas plants – so they can keep pace with environmental challenges on reducing the country’s carbon footprints.
The first generating facilities of the 4,800MW Beni Suef power station came on stream December 2016 to March 2017, with the first generating module just going through testing and commissioning process for just about a month – considerably a ‘first rate record’ – given that in some power markets, it could take three to six months just to advance a power plant’s commissioning and testing phase. Full project completion has been set within 18 months.
The power plant is being constructed in ‘an extremely desert terrain with some topography concerns’, hence, Ghaly noted that the company had to employ its best engineering practice just to make the site suitable for the new gas-fired power facility.
For the three power projects that are being constructed simultaneously in three sites, the completion is targeted for 36 months from the signing of the projects funding in November 2015 and serving the notice-to-proceed (NTP) for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) with project contractors.
The facilities are equipped with 24 H-Class gas turbines and 12 steam turbines all provided by Siemens. Essentially, this will ensure the plants’ high efficiency generation at the range of 61-63-percent which will be higher than other gas turbine technologies.
Fundamentally, the German conglomerate is seen setting superior record timeframe of possibly getting the projects on-line on a stretch of 33 months – given that all three power stations have already been surpassing 80 percent level of construction completion.
Ghaly noted that the first phase of the Beni Suef project, with six modules or generating units of at least 400MW capacity each, is already at 86 percent completion as of the company’s meet-up and facility visit with the global press. The second phase is also under construction.
The two other sites are in Burullus and New Capital – and each power station had also been set for 4,800MW aggregate capacity or a total of 9,200 megawatts.
The Burullus and New Capital projects are also undertaken by Siemens in partnership with Orascom Construction. Both projects achieved their financial closing in March 2016.