Paving the way for progress

Rabigh thermal power plant in Saudi Arabia
Rabigh thermal power plant in Saudi Arabia
Credit: Doosan


Six major power projects highlight the ambition of the Middle East to provide a diverse energy mix.
PEi examines the projects and presents an update on each plant from one of the major players involved in its construction


IPP3 spearheads Jordan towards self sufficiency

The world’s largest internal combustion engine power plant is due for imminent completion in Jordan later this month, marking a key milestone in the country’s unprecedented journey towards energy self-sufficiency by 2020.

IPP3, located at Al Manakher near the Jordanian capital Amman, will deliver 573 MW of power through 38 Wärtsilä 50DF engines.

The project is central to Jordan’s 2020 vision: delivering a tri-fuel plant capable of transferring seamlessly without downtime between natural gas, heavy fuel oil and light fuel, while providing load-following for renewables and matching supply and demand exactly to drive efficiency.

IPP3 sits at the core of Jordan’s 2020 strategy, along with the exploration of extensive local reserves of oil shale, nuclear investments, a new LNG terminal in the city of Aqaba and a dual natural gas/oil pipeline running from Iraq.

Energy self-sufficiency is an ambitious goal for any country, but for an energy-poor state like Jordan the target is particularly extraordinary, given the kingdom’s historical reliance on foreign sources for up to 97 per cent of its fuel.

In spring 2012, Amman Asia Electric Power Company (AAEPC), a consortium owned by the Electric Power Corporation of South Korea, Mitsubishi Corporation and Wärtsilä, was chosen by the National Electric Power Company of Jordan (NEPCO) to build IPP3, with the turnkey contract awarded to Wärtsilä and South Korean Lotte Engineering & Construction.

The plant will provide baseload power for the country’s national grid through 22 engines with a 60 per cent capacity factor. The remaining 16 engines will serve peak load with an expected 40 per cent capacity factor.

Notwithstanding this operating pattern, the entire plant is capable of being operated at any load depending on Jordan’s needs. IPP3 will be an excellent catcher of load peaks due to its high part-load performance and its ability to dispatch with zero penalties, enabling existing turbine plants to operate their baseload at higher efficiency.

As a baseload plant, IPP3 benefits from being fitted with a nitrogen oxides (NOx) control system for abating emissions, meeting strict environmental health and safety guidelines set by the International Finance Corporation.

Artist's impression of IPP3
Artist’s impression of IPP3
Credit: Wärtsilä

Besides NOx regulations, IPP3 follows international requirements for sulphur oxides and particular matter and will have a close-to-zero usage of water once gas is employed as fuel, minimizing its environmental footprint.

In addition to gaining the acclaimed title of largest internal combustion engine (ICE) power plant in the world, IPP3 is also the first and only facility of its kind in the Middle East.

The plant represents a step change in Jordan’s application of gas technology solutions. Before IPP3, Jordan’s utility professionals had never contemplated the installation of an ICE plant, preferring to generate baseload power through combined-cycle gas turbine facilities, with the option to create flexibility through part-loading when required.

Although CCGTs continue to be heavily marketed in Jordan, ICEs are advantageous for three key reasons. Firstly, Jordan has no load-following power plants capable of starting in less than ten minutes and meeting demand exactly as required, a particular issue in a country that experiences huge differences in demand between winter and summer.

Secondly, the limited flexibility possible through part-loading has proved particularly costly over the last five years, due to Jordan’s inherent need to rely on imported gas from Egypt, where supplies have been disrupted by political instability. The result of this is that Jordan has often used expensive diesel to run its plants when sufficient gas is not available. Not only is the up-front cost of diesel more expensive, but the fuel is also less efficient than gas when operated at part-load, further adding to fuel costs.

Thirdly, amid concern over imported supplies, Jordan will require energy from up to 400 MW of renewables and a variety of local reserves to realize its 2020 vision, meaning flexibility to back up intermittent wind and solar and generate baseload power from a range of fuels will be of critical importance.

Despite these notable benefits, IPP3 only received the green light after a thorough market analysis provided by Wärtsilä, as well as a further study undertaken by NEPCO to rigorously assess how advantageous an ICE plant would be in comparison to a CCGT.

At the time, CCGTs were so heavily integrated into the Jordanian energy industry that local environmental regulations supported its installation, and had to be amended at ministerial level to support ICEs – a move that went against environmental norms in the region.

The plant serves as a great example of outstanding collaboration and compromise: the co-operation between Wärtsilä and its affiliates has allowed for a competitive engineering, procurement and construction price for the plant, an efficient bidding process and a shorter gestation period from start to finish.

The first 16 peak load-bearing engines were operational in as little as 16 months, while the entire plant will be up and running in no more than 24 months after the Limited Notice to Proceed.

Until 2015, IPP3 will run on heavy fuel oil before transitioning to natural gas supplied by a new LNG unit in Aqaba. The project will serve as a flagship example of how prejudices against internal combustion engines can be broken, even amid strong support for CCGTs, by demonstrating the advantages the technology can bring to those striving for energy independence or a generation portfolio with a high penetration of renewable energy.

Contributed by Wärtsilä.

Rabigh: Powering Saudi Arabia’s future generation

Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction secured the EPC contract to build the 2800 MW Rabigh thermal power plant from Saudi Arabia’s state-backed power supplier Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) in September 2010.

Worth some $3.44 billion, the project constitutes the largest single project for power plant construction that a Korean company has ever secured overseas. Doosan Heavy emerged as the single EPC contractor, winning the order over stiff competition from Siemens, Alstom and Mitsubishi – and thereby setting a precedent for the recognition of Korean expertise in plant exports to Saudi Arabia.

Rabigh is Saudi Arabia’s single largest construction site. It is located some 150 km north of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast. Construction of the plant will be completed over six stages. When all stages are finished, its total generation capacity will be 2800 MW, produced by four individual units, each with a 700 MW capacity. Doosan’s scope as EPC contractor includes everything from engineering to procurement, manufacturing, installation and operational testing and commissioning.

By 2016, Saudi Arabia’s electric power consumption is expected to reach 309,100 GWh – triple 2000’s rate of consumption. Rabigh will play a vital role in providing the expanded electricity capacity to meet this demand. In particular, the project was planned to meet the electricity requirements of new industrial and infrastructural projects, including the King Abdullah Economic City, and is expected to provide electricity for some 900,000 households.

Rabigh thermal power plant is expected to be completed by November
Rabigh thermal power plant is expected to be completed by November
Credit: Doosan Heavy Industries

Rabigh is expected to be completed by November this year. By the end of June, progress had already reached 99.2 per cent, with work on Units 1 and 2 completed in May and July respectively, and Units 3 and 4 scheduled for completion in September and November.

A highlight of the project’s progress has been its outstanding safety performance, with Doosan Heavy recently celebrating 40 million hours of accident-free operations. This is quite some achievement considering that the project calls for the simultaneous construction of four units, with around 15,000 workers from 37 countries deployed daily.

To mitigate risks, Doosan Heavy has implemented a series of Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) programmes that focus on providing workers with hands-on experience and help different cultures work together in a safe environment. The programme includes training workers for real accident situations, the operation of a daily safety patrol system and awards for exemplary workers.

According to Doosan Heavy, a key challenge in running the Rabigh project to schedule has been the Saudi Arabian government’s enforced enhanced regulations on working visas, which were introduced in April 2013. This development led to a rapid reduction in the availability of manpower for some of the partner companies working on-site, significantly affecting the progress of the project. However, a focus on improving process efficiency and operational excellence allowed the project to recoup time and successfully achieve its milestone dates.

Contributed by Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction.

Sohar 2 and Barka 3: setting an example for clean electricity

The Middle East, especially the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is experiencing a period of unprecedented development. Rapid industrialization and population growth is increasingly stretching the existing energy infrastructure, and fuelling a need to construct greater capability.

Power generation in the Middle East is changing. Although historically rich in hydrocarbons, increasing emphasis on conserving valuable natural resources for export and an increase in environmental awareness have seen the region seeking to modernize domestic power generation and transmission facilities with increasingly efficient technology.

The region is looking to diversify its energy mix and each country will need to select the most appropriate technologies and fuel sources for its own requirements.

While alternative fuels, such as renewable energy and nuclear power, are receiving increased attention in the region, their wide-scale implementation is some way off and the predominant power source for the medium term will be clean-burning, efficiently-fired natural gas. Oman is a perfect example of a country planning for its economic growth with forward-looking tenders for efficient, large-scale power generation.

The Sultanate is witnessing large annual increases in electricity demand, fuelled by a rising population and a rapidly expanding industrial sector. This increased demand for power, coupled with a need to conserve the nation’s natural gas, is seeing great emphasis placed upon energy-efficient power infrastructure. More than ever, the efficiency of newly-constructed power generation capacity must be a prime factor in the design of power plants.

Oman’s two most recently completed power plants, Sohar 2 and Barka 3, are setting an example for clean and efficient electricity production in the Middle East.

Awarded in 2010 to a consortium comprising Siemens and partner GS E&C (South Korea), the gas-fired combined-cycle power plants add some 1500 MW to Oman’s national electricity grid.

Sohar 2 is owned by Al Batinah Power Company and was constructed in the Sohar industrial park around 200 km northwest of the nation’s capital, Muscat, while Barka 3, owned by Al Suwadi Power Company, was built in the immediate vicinity of Muscat.

The two turnkey plants, which will be operated by Suez-Tractebel Operation and Maintenance Oman LLC (STOMO), are identical in design and also have the distinction of having the highest efficiency of any power plant in Oman, at 57.6 per cent.

“Although both plants are in different locations, they were designed and constructed as twin projects, which allowed us to gain synergies and develop competitive pricing,” said Lothar Balling, head of global project management at Siemens’ Power and Gas Division. “With the two plants sharing a design we were able to continually look for ways in which their construction could be optimized, and it has been a great success. It’s a model that could be utilized and applied in upcoming projects in Oman.

“The two facilities also mark the very first installation of the high-efficiency Siemens F-Class gas turbine in the small grid of Oman, helping to ensure that these two power plants are now the most efficient in the country. Achieving 57.6 per cent net efficiency in Oman’s challenging ambient temperatures is something we’re very proud of.”

Close co-operation with the Omani authorities also enabled Siemens to manage the parallel commissioning of both plants effectively during the typically low electricity dispatch winter season, which is generally more difficult than performing the same during the peak season.

Sohar 2 and Barka 3 are the most efficient power plants in Oman
Sohar 2 and Barka 3 are the most efficient power plants in Oman
Credit: Siemens

Each equipped with two Siemens SGT5-4000F gas turbines, one SST5-5000 steam turbine and three SGen5-2000H generators, the plants are also supplied with electrical equipment and SPPA-T3000 instrumentation and control system from Siemens, which enables all power plant automation tasks and allows the plant to be operated by only four engineers.

Consortium partner GS E&C supplied the heat recovery steam generators and was responsible for the main erection and civil works.

First operation in simple-cycle mode was in mid-2012 and the two plants were subsequently finalized in combined-cycle function on time in April 2013, producing more than 745 MW each.

“Combined-cycle is a model that works extremely well for the Middle East, and Siemens is a pioneer in the use of this technology globally,” says Balling. “Utilizing waste exhaust heat to boost the efficiency of the plant through a steam turbine allows us to produce 50 per cent more electricity with no extra feedstock, and is an ideal solution to the requirement of carefully managing resource consumption in Oman.”

With many GCC countries seeing domestic electricity demand double during the hot summer months, bringing Sohar 2 and Barka 3 online on schedule was also essential.

“It was very important that these two plants were completed in time to supply additional generating capacity to Oman’s power grid before the peak summer months,” says Balling.

“The grid and gas interfaces were completed in 2012 and our experience in planning and execution as a turnkey solutions provider – and the integration of the mechanical, electrical and chemical processes of fossil fuel power plants – meant that we were able to start commercial operation of these two facilities on schedule, well in time to meet peak demand.”

Sohar 2 and Barka 3 are setting a new benchmark for efficient power generation in the region. Both have been operating in Oman for more than one year and 16,000 hours, with the highest operational reliability.

The plants demonstrate that with appropriate technology, the right expertise and an understanding of the customer and the country, it is possible for a power plant constructor to overcome challenging conditions to build truly world-class power infrastructure in Oman.

Contributed by Siemens

Barakah: putting the UAE on the nuclear map

Over half of Abu Dhabi’s first nuclear power plant is already in place and its rate of progress has impressed the International Atomic Energy Agency.

More than 55 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s Unit 1 nuclear power plant has now been completed at Barakah in the west of the region, and with some nuclear projects in other countries in receipt of bad publicity for costly delays in recent times, the UAE example is being lauded.

“On-time and on-budget advancement of the construction work in the Barakah nuclear plant is yet another successful milestone of the UAE’s well-thought plans,” said Hamad Alkaabi, the UAE ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In 2009 Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation selected a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) to build four APR-1400 reactors, of which Barakah 1 is the first.

IAEA director general Yukiya Amano at Barakah nuclear power plant
IAEA director general Yukiya Amano at Barakah nuclear power plant
Credit: IAEA

“After more than five years since the startup of the UAE programme, it is quite an achievement for the UAE – and the global nuclear sector – to be able to advance to such a stage in a steady and quality manner,” said Alkaabi.

Kristine Svinicki of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said: “The UAE indeed has an inspiring story to tell about their nuclear energy project. It truly makes it a model for other nations to follow.”

Fahad Al Qahtani, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s external communications director, said the body was hoping to pour concrete for Unit 4 next year, pending regulatory approval, and added that “2016 would also be the arrival and installation of the first fuel load”.

Construction of Barakah Unit 2 is also underway, with an entry into commercial operation scheduled in 2018.

With all four plants due to be operational by 2020, nuclear energy is expected to deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs, saving up to 12 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

Barakah 1’s reactor vessel was delivered in May, and at a ceremony at the construction site, South Korean president Park Geun-hye said “the construction of the Barakah power plant is more than just the construction of a nuclear power plant. It is a key project that brings the two countries’ partnership forward over the next 100 years and thus is very symbolic.”

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) chief executive Mohamed Al Hammadi also said at the ceremony: “With the arrival of our first reactor vessel, Enec and Kepco remain on track to deliver the country’s first nuclear energy reactor, Barakah unit 1, in 2017.”

ENEC has embarked on a graduate training programme to ensure that the four plants will be run by an Emirati workforce.

The programme comprises classroom training on nuclear fundamentals delivered at the Institute of Applied Technology in Abu Dhabi; nuclear systems and on-the-job training at Kepco’s facilities in South Korea; followed by additional training at ENEC’s new state-of-the-art Simulator Training Center at Barakah.

The first students graduated in June and Al Hammadi said: “The UAE’s nuclear energy programme is built on the most rigorous standards of safety, quality and security, and world class training is fundamental to developing a talented Emirati workforce with the skills and experience required to maintain this commitment.”

Tafila: Jordan’s first utility-scale wind farm

In a move to reduce its dependence on imported energy, which costs over 40 per cent of its annual budget, Jordan is building its first utility-scale wind farm in Tafila province in the southern part of the country, around 180 km south of Amman.

When completed, the Tafila wind project is planned to generate around 117 MW per hour and 400 GWh per year, as well as reducing annual CO2 emissions by around 250,000 tonnes.

Vestas is supplying 38 turbines to Tafila
Vestas is supplying 38 turbines to Tafila

It will feature 38 V112-3.0 MW turbines from Danish wind company Vestas, which have already begun to be delivered.

The plant is expected to come online in the second quarter of 2015 and its power will be sold to Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (Nepco) under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Construction is being undertaken by the Jordan Electric Power Company (Jepco) at an estimated cost of around $285 million. Managing the project is the Jordan Wind Project Company (JWPC), a joint venture between regional equity funding group InfraMed (which holds a 50 per cent stake), Abu Dhabi’s Masdar renewable energy company (31 per cent) and renewables project development firm EP Global Energy (19 per cent).

Funding came from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation in the form of $221 million in loans, with additional funding provided by the European Investment Bank, Denmark’s Eksport Kredit Fonden, the OPEC Fund for International Development, the Europe Arab Bank and the Capital Bank of Jordan.

The project will mark the first time a privately-owned company will generate wind power in Jordan. It is also the first wind power project to be developed under the nation’s 2010 Renewable and Energy Efficiency Law, which established a renewable energy target of 10 per cent of the overall energy mix by 2020 and enacted a feed-in tariff for renewable power – another first in the Middle East.

The Tafila wind farm will make a significant contribution toward the target, accounting for almost 10 per cent.

Jordan’s shortage of indigenous fuel sources means that, currently, around 90 per cent of its power is imported. The nation’s population stands at around 6 million and is growing by around 8 per cent per year, with electricity demand growing annually by 5 per cent. According to analysts, Jordan will need to add 1500 MW of power generation capacity by 2020 to avoid an energy shortage.

Here the Tafila wind farm will again make a significant contribution, as it is projected to increase the nation’s installed capacity by 3 per cent.

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