MENA Climate Forecast: Shrinking Environmental Footprint for Power and Industrial Plants

By Giuseppe Musico’

Director of Sales for Environmental Control Solutions and ECS Unit Manager for GE’s Steam Power Systems business in MENAT

It’s hard to convey the stark impact that climate change is expected to have on the Middle East and North Africa, but the shocking jump in exceptionally hot days gives an idea. According to the World Bank, cities such as Amman, Baghdad and Damascus will see the number of days with exceptionally high temperatures rise from just a handful to more than 60 days a year.

It’s even worse for Beirut and Riyadh, where the number of exceptionally hot days could rise to 126 and 132 days, respectively, and all these numbers are in a scenario where global temperatures only rise by 2°C.

The impact, however, wouldn’t just be one of urban discomfort. Regional agriculture would be substantially impacted as well. Some crop yields are expected to drop by 30% in a 2°C world and by a staggering 60% in a 4°C scenario. The impact on water resources would be similarly dramatic.

So it’s clear that the MENA region, perhaps more than any other part of the world, has a lot at stake when it comes to taking action to mitigate increases in global temperatures.

Yet, the region is experiencing a period of sustained economic growth driven by expanding populations and diverse economic activities fueled by the conscious need to delink the economy from volatile oil revenues. Governments and policymakers across the region are working to find the right balance between growth and environmental impact.

With power generation representing more than one-third of all CO2 emissions in the Middle East, steps to improve efficiency and reduce fuel consumption in the sector could have a significant impact on the region’s overall carbon footprint and support its actions to minimize the rise in global temperatures.

In this regard, GE is working with customers to help utilities manage their environmental footprint. These extend from innovations in efficiency technologies for steam power plants and industrial plants to our digital industrial software solutions running on GE’s Predix cloud-based operating system for industrial plants.

For steam power plants fueled by coal, GE’s ultra-supercritical technology can lower CO2 emissions by 3%. Over the course of a year, or the life of the plant, that’s a huge net positive for air quality. The 2,400 megawatt (MW) Hassyan Clean Coal Independent Power Project (IPP) currently under development in Dubai is one local example.

GE has delivered similar technology solutions in the region for steam power plants fueled by heavy fuel oil. The Yanbu 3 power and water plant in Saudi Arabia is using GE’s supercritical power solutions and advanced Flue Gas Treatments to lower emissions and achieve better operating costs than the average steam plant in the region.

GE is bringing its digital industrial solutions to the task of helping plant operators shrink their environmental footprints. The Predix-powered Digital Power Plant solutions for steam can increase efficiency by up to 1.5% over the life of the plant and therefore reduce CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.

GE is implementing its digital industrial solutions at the 1,292 megawatt (MW) Hub Power Station in Baluchistan, Pakistan. By integrating hardware assets, big data and data analysis software, operators will be better able to reduce unplanned downtime and enhance the reliability of operations.

Digital Power Plant technology can also be used in gas-fired power plants to further improve their environmental performance, and the impact can be huge. For example, with just a 1% efficiency improvement across the global gas-fired power plant fleet over 15 years, fuel savings could equal US$ 66 billion, significantly reducing the pressure on limited natural resources.

GE technology also helps manage the environmental impact of power plants and industrial installations like aluminium, iron & steel, cement, oil & gas, waste to energy and other facilities through the installation of Air Quality Control Systems. Currently 5,000 such units are helping to further reduce emissions worldwide.

With so much at stake regarding climate change for governments, economies and industrial users in the region, it’s crucial that utilities begin to adopt and implement the powerful efficiency and environmental solutions available today. Each step we take will combine with those of others to help us achieve the targets necessary to control climate change.