The Egypt Megaproject has reached a major milestone on time, even achieving a surplus of 10 percent (or 400 megawatts) over the promised generation capacity to be available within 18 months of the signing of the contract: The first twelve SGT5-8000H gas turbines located at the combined cycle power plants in Beni Suef, Burullus and New Capital were fired up in November 2016 and are now generating a total of 4.8 gigawatts of electricity for Egypt. The generated amount would be sufficient to provide approximately 11 million Egyptians with stable electricity.
“These three power plants are smartly positioned to feed the neediest communities with clean and reliable energy,” points out Ahmed El Saadany, Learning Manager at Siemens Egypt. “Beni Suef to feed Upper Egypt to the south, Burullus to cover the north coast and Alexandria, and New Capital to fuel the future center of business and excellence alongside Cairo.” We caught up with Ahmed ahead of the ceremony celebrating this momentous achievement to talk about the human aspect of realizing such an endeavor.
“There were undeniable challenges in the area of human resources,” he explains. “Starting from the mobilization of thousands of local as well as global skilled workers throughout the ramp-up phase in an extremely tight timeframe and with tough execution conditions.” In addition to the 20,000 jobs created in civil, mechanical and electrical works, 600 further vacancies arose for the operation and maintenance of the three power plants. “These have been filled by young Egyptian engineers from the surrounding communities who will be sustainably employed.”
Together with his colleagues in Germany, and cooperating with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company, Siemens Egypt’s learning manager succeeded in creating a tailored training program for 600 trainees, based on a combination of technical and non-technical modules, including language, communication, team psychology and leadership. “Our intention was to empower a new generation of local experts who can professionally run such technology in the future,” he says.
“Now already 300 of them are trained up to global standards in the operation and maintenance of power plants and are ready to take over the operations of the first open-cycle phase for each of the three power plants after a successful synchronization and first firing,” Ahmed relates proudly. They are for instance the turbine operators who were involved in preparing the first fire in November 2016 and thus helped to set up a new worldwide benchmark for the execution of fast-track power projects.
Finding the right personnel for the project, however, was not the only challenge in the last 18 months. To deliver a project on such a mega scale on time, the consortium of Siemens and its Egyptian partners Orascom Construction and El Sewedy Electric often had to think in completely new dimensions. “At the Beni Suef construction site, we managed to carry out the excavation and the removal of around 1,750,000 cubic meters of rock, which is the equivalent to the volume of Menkaure, the smallest Giza pyramid,” says Ahmed El Saadany. “And at the New Capital plant, we pioneered an ingenious, customized solution with air-cooled condenser technology to solve the lack of water resources in the desert.” Meanwhile in Burullus, the terrain and the weather proved harsher than expected – resulting in a further ramp-up of manpower to meet the deadline.
So what will be the outcome of this unprecedented effort? “Egyptians have long looked forward to a time of no more power cuts and blackouts,” says Ahmed El Saadany. “This will create a more attractive environment for future investments with abundant energy supply at reasonable cost, which will boost the country’s overall economic growth and prosperity.”
In terms of tangible results, the power plant construction projects have already impacted on the communities where they are located. “The three gigantic power plants brought life to their respective regions,” the learning manager comments. “We can expect to further witness unprecedented growth and development, leading to thousands of jobs that are already being created and will be created in the future on a sustainable basis.”
“Those communities are experiencing a real transformation on the level of infrastructure and human capital to lead Egypt’s future in energy and sustainable socioeconomic development,” says Ahmed Elsaadany. “We at Siemens believe we can deliver the latest technologies and innovations that a country can really rely on. Our solutions are breaking world records when it comes to efficiency and reliability – and are improving people’s lives.”
By Manu Abdo, journalist in Cairo.
(Source: Siemens AG – The Energy Blog)