Three 4.8 GW combined cycles light up Egyptian power scenario

The Beni Suef plant in Egypt is the largest combined cycle facility in the world[/caption]

Egypt has had a problem with power availability for many years. So the government decided to handle it once and for all. The solution was three 4,800 MW combined cycle power plants (CCPPs) built simultaneously. These are the largest such facilities in the world. In total, Siemens supplied 24 gas turbines (GTs), 12 steam turbines (STs), 36 generators, 24 Benson heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), and three 500 kV gas-insulated switchgear systems. Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) world was provided by Siemens together with local partners(Orascom Construction and Elsewedy Electric).

The Beni Suef, New Capital and Burullus power plants were ordered, financed and built over a 27.5-month span. Together they represent approximately 40 percent of Egypt's power capacity, at the time of signing contracts, generating 14.4GW – enough to supply 40 million Egyptians with electricity.

This power was much needed in a country with an aging generation fleet besides heavy fuel oil steam plants. After the revolution of 2011, power cuts became commonplace. But in 2014, things came to a head.

“Following a long period of repetitive power cuts, we had a situation in 2014 when 90% of the country had no electricity,” said Sharif Kotb, the Project Director from Siemens Egypt who managed all three projects. “This raised the necessity to find a solution.”

The government initiatedthe fast track projects, one of these projectswas Attaqa Power Plant with El Sewedy Electric for total capacity of 640 MW with simple cycle configuration. It was built in less than six months and consisted of 4 Siemens E-Class GTs. The success of these projects was the spark needed to put plans in place for the three mega-projects. Beni Suef is situated in an industrial and agricultural zone about 100 km south of Cairo. This area had a weak grid that inhibited production and expansion.

The Beni Suef facility comprises 8 GTs, 4 STs, and 8 HRSGs. The GTs are Siemens SGT5-8000H advance class units. The STs are Siemens SST-5000 units manufactured at the Siemens factory in Muelheim, Germany. While they run on natural gas, oil fuel operation for one block consisting of 2 GTs and 1 ST is in the plan so that the plant can use it as a backup in the future.

The facility is more than 61% efficient. Each of the H-class turbines provides 400 MW. The inlet air operates at 820 Kg/s and gas consumption at 22 Kg/s per GT. The combustion temperature is 1550°C and the outlet temperature is 650°C. The Nile provides water for once through cooling. A Siemens SPPA-T3000 control system is used to run the plant. Emissions levels are maintained below 25 ppm NOx.

“Beni Suef provides electricity for industry, residential and agriculture in the south of Egypt, an area that have a fast growing potential and previously had a poor grid,” said Kotb.

The two other plants are: the Burullus plant on the Mediterranean Sea mid-way between Alexandria and Damietta, which uses sea water for cooling; the New Capital plant in the desert near Cairo to power the new administrative capital for Egypt which is going to host around 5 million people once completed. The biggest air-cooled condensers in the world are used there instead of water cooling. Otherwise, the configurations for each CCPP are the same as Beni Suef: 8 Siemens SGT5-8000H GTs, and 4 SST5-5000 STs.

To put the scope of this endeavor in perspective, it is by far the largest project in Siemens history. It provides seven times the production of the Aswan high dam. Siemens electrical equipment is also being used as part of 8 new substations which are part of the build out of a grid being established incorporating all three plants.

Virtual welding teaching equipment at Siemens School of Excellence in Cairo (Zein El Abedeen)[/caption]

In addition, Siemens has an operations and maintenance (O&M) deal for all three plants for the next eight years. This includes digital services and data analytics to optimize plants and ensure reliability. Data from the plant operation will be collected, analyzed and transformed into actionable insights such as diagnostics, troubleshooting and condition forecasting, improving reliability and reducing downtime. Further, the data processed can help to balance maintenance costs, optimize inspection intervals, and reduce operational risks.

Creating a workforce

It’s one thing to build huge power plants in an African country and quite another to find the manpower to run them. The Egyptian government worked closely with Siemens and the German Development Agency on programs to train a new workforce. They sponsored and renovated local schools to promote technical and vocational education. They equipped them with computers, Project Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) systems, 3D printing, virtual welding machines, pneumatic and hydraulic labs, electronics and electrical control labs, automation, mechanical maintenance labs, and other equipment for hands-on training.

A new training center will be inaugurated in 2019 which will train 5,500 Egyptians in electrical, electronics, and mechanical skills, and automation skills plus sector-specific training in Power Plants Operation and Maintenance as well as Industry Automation. Previously, a six-month training program was provided to 600 engineers and technicians to run the three new CCPPs, in that program the trainees had the chance to travel to Germany for up to 3 months each.

“As there was a lack of skilled labor, we had to train new resources,” said Kotb.