UAE Adds Gas Power to Its Mix and Renewables Abroad

The January agreement between GE and Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. for a 1.8-GW combined cycle power plant in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is part of the country’s commitment to increasing its power generation capacity as demand for electricity continues to grow in the federation. It’s also part of the country’s expansion of its energy profile, both domestically and abroad.

The GE-Sumitomo deal includes a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) to develop, build, and operate the plant in Hamriyah, which includes three combined cycle blocks, with the first scheduled to begin commercial operation in May 2021. Dr. Rashid Alleem, chairman of SEWA, in a statement said, “We are committed to strengthen Sharjah’s electricity infrastructure and provide seamless, affordable power. The proposed plant underlines our focus to promote public-private partnerships to drive a robust power production and management plan that is aligned with local energy needs, as well as the optimal utilization of natural resources.”

The UAE is actively seeking investment in its energy sector, with several recent deals. The Arab Petroleum Investments Corp. in January said it is investing in Yellow Door Energy as part of a consortium of international and regional banks providing $65 million, with a goal of backing 300 MW of Yellow Door solar energy projects in the next two years. The emirate of Umm Al Quwain recently signed a cooperation agreement with the UAE Federal Electricity and Water Authority to build a 200-MW solar power plant in Falaj Al Mualla. Sharjah National Oil Corp. signed a long-term agreement with Italy’s Eni, awarding Eni three concessions to explore and develop onshore oil and gas fields in a 30-year partnership. The gas would be used by the UAE’s power generation and industrial sectors.

GE is supplying three HA gas turbines (Figure 1), three steam turbines, six generators, three heat recovery steam generators, and turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction services for the Hamriyah plant. GE also will provide parts, repairs, and maintenance services for the power generation assets at the site for a period of 25 years.

“SEWA has a clear vision for Sharjah’s power sector, and GE is honored to partner with Sumitomo to deliver more efficient, reliable and sustainable power for residential and industrial users in Sharjah,” said Scott Strazik, president and CEO of GE Gas Power. “The project brings together GE’s combined strengths in best-in-class technology, local presence, infrastructure and finance capabilities with our expertise in power plant construction, operations, and management.” The UAE also is exporting some of its energy technology. The $50 million United Arab Emirates-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF) is building its first three renewable energy projects in the Bahamas, Barbados, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

1. GE’s HA gas turbines, three of which will be used in the new combined cycle plant in the UAE, have more than 242,000 operating hours since their introduction. GE said more than 80 units have been ordered by customers in 16 countries. Courtesy: GE Power

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the projects are fully financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, and also said they represent the Caribbean’s largest renewable energy initiative. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, in a statement when the projects broke ground in November 2018 said: “These renewable energy projects underway in the Bahamas, Barbados, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines further make the business case for sustainable development and UAE-Caribbean cooperation. They will create jobs and reduce energy costs to stimulate the local economy, while also incorporating concrete measures to address the reality of climate and hurricane risk.”

The Bahamas project is a 900-kW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at the national stadium that also will include electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The Barbados project includes a 350-kW solar PV carport also with EV charging stations, and a 500-kW ground-mounted PV plant. The projects are being built in a joint venture with the Barbados Water Authority. The project in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, on Union Island, features a 600-kW solar PV plant connected to a 500-kWh lithium-ion battery. The UAE-CREF plans to deploy renewable energy projects in 16 Caribbean countries over the next three years, helping reduce the region’s reliance on imports of diesel fuel for its diesel-fueled power generation. Projects in the first cycle of the fund, in Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, are being redone due to damage during the 2017 hurricane season. The second cycle of the fund was announced in January at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) Assembly. It includes renewable energy projects in Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Guyana, Grenada, Belize, and the Dominican Republic.

Want to know more about what’s happening in the UAE’s energy sector? Read these POWER articles:

Construction Complete on Unit 1 of Barakah Nuclear Plant in UAE

UAE to Rely on Renewables Over Long Term

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).

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