Gas turbine technology best for power generation in Gulf: expert

July 31st, 2008 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

Dubai, July 31 (IANS) Gas turbine technology is the best fossil fuel-based technology available for power generation in the Gulf, given the skyrocketing oil prices, according to a leading energy expert. “Gas turbine technologies are the cleanest techniques within systems that use fossil fuels and are favoured in GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries due to the low cost of available natural gas,” Abdullah Al-Amiri, chairman of the Emirates Energy Award, which recognizes best practices in energy conservation and management, said in a statement here.

He said that calls to use alternative energy resources across the world are increasing and these have taken priority over agendas of research centres, energy industry conventions and parliament sessions - all because of the spiralling global oil prices.

Because of this and the dependence on one energy source, Al-Amiri said, the GCC countries are also increasingly searching for alternative energy sources.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprise the GCC. They together form the world’s richest oil producing region.

Making a strong pitch for use of gas turbine technology for power generation in the Gulf, Al-Amiri said: “Actually, it is expensive at $10-12 per million Btu (British thermal unit) but users do not rely on this number since the price is heavily subsidised by the local government to less than $2 per million Btu.”

He added that gas turbine techniques could also be used in a combined cycle with a steam generator, which uses the heat emitted by the gas turbine units.

“This increases the plant efficiency from 28 percent to about 50 percent. It is also considered the cleanest technique within systems that use fossil fuels,” said Al-Amiri, who is also associate professor of energy systems in the mechanical engineering department of the UAE University.

As for other available alternative energy sources, he said: “There is coal-fired power plant, which is burned by coal gasification, a very efficient method for extracting energy from coal, and the best solution to help reduce emission and pollution. The GCC countries are continuously confronted with the issue of depletion of natural gas resources in the region.”

He was, however, of the opinion that wind energy was not feasible for the UAE as wind speeds in the country are not adequate.

A study conducted in the emirate of Fujairah showed that the wind speed level in the country is only 25 percent of the level required for a windmill to generate power. Solar power generation techniques continue to be expensive.

Coming to the all important question of nuclear power - the UAE has embarked on a civilian nuclear programme - Al-Amiri said that this remained a topic for debate as the low cost of power generation was offset by the high initial investment required.

However, he said, the decision to go with it was both a political and a social one, as it has a strategic dimension in the future which countries would need some time to accept.

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