Gas to play a critical role in Middle East’s energy mix says GE’s regional chief executive

“Underlying factors and next-gen solutions will continue to drive the power sector forward,” says Joseph Anis to reporters in Dubai

“Gas will continue to play a critical role in the Middle East’s energy mix while supply and demand dynamics will help to drive fuel self-sufficiency and energy independence in the region,” said General Electric’s (GE) Joseph Anis.

During a GE Gas Power media round table on the theme ‘The Evolving Energy Landscape and the Role of Gas in Securing the Middle East’s Energy Future’, Anis, president and CEO of GE Gas Power for MENASA (MENA and South Asia), said that underlying factors and next-gen solutions will continue to drive the power sector forward.

“Several factors contribute to this trend. The region is a hub for industries such as smelters and cement, which depend on large, uninterrupted supplies of power as an essential input. Many countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and others continue to experience frequent energy shortages and need to add significant new capacity to their grids to meet the needs of present and future generations,” explained Anis. “Additionally, MENA’s population is projected to continue to grow faster than the global average for the foreseeable future, from over 448 million in 2018 to more than 719 million in 2050. This growth will drive further demand for efficient, affordable and reliable power.”

He stated that on the supply end, the discovery and development of new gas reservoirs in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries across the Middle East as well as advancements made in liquified natural gas (LNG) are expected to ease access to gas. “Today, there are more than 800 metric tons per annum (MTPA) of regasification capacity and over 390 MTPA of liquefaction capacity globally, with more under construction.”

“At the demand end, power consumption in the region is also likely to continue to grow. The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) expects demand for power in the Middle East to reach 2,419 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2040, almost double the 2016 levels.” Anis stated during the round table discussion.

Gas power is an excellent complement to renewable energy as the world, MENA included, transitions to cleaner sources of power generation, GE representatives added.

Anis said that gas can play a vital role in dispatching flexible, resilient and lower emission power as the world shifts towards incorporating more renewable power in the energy mix and goes from largely centralised power systems to a combination of central and distributed power generation.

“The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 for example, targets an energy mix that comprises of 44 percent clean energy, 38 percent gas, 12 percent clean coal and 6 percent nuclear energy. Other countries across the region are also adopting aggressive goals to decarbonise power production. However, supplies of renewable energy are typically intermittent in nature as sunshine, rain and wind speeds vary over the course of a day as well as across seasons and battery storage solutions remain expensive, often making them economically infeasible. It costs ~$200 to store one barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) of energy with battery storage solutions. Conversely, storing one barrel of oil or natural gas at scale is ~$1,” he remarked.

He continued: “Additionally, the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects gas generation to continue to grow globally at 1.7 percent compound annual growth rate from 2018 through 2040, starting at 6,118 TWh and going up to 8,899 TWh (22 percent of total generation).”

“Gas power technologies not only offer the flexibility to ramp power production up or down rapidly to meet potential gaps in energy supply from variable renewable sources and stabilise the grid but gas also presents the cleanest means to generate electricity from traditional fossil fuels,” he concluded.

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