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Siemens to upgrade technology, training in Middle East

Update: June, 23/2014 - 18:26
The gas-fired M station joins the other plants operated by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) at Jebel Ali. — Photo National
DUBAI (VNS) — New technology and a commitment to training will be the key focus for Siemens UAE and Middle East in strengthening its foothold in the Gulf, according to company officials.

Since the advancement of industries in the Middle East with diversified lines of business, apart from oil, is strongly advocated, this strategy, revealed recently by Dietmar Siersdorfer, chief executive officer of Siemens for the Gulf region, fits well with the company's global vision for 2020, which focuses on the growth of electrification, automation and digitalisation.

As a technology partner of Arab governments since the 19th century, Siemens drew on its research and experience to create forecasts for the coming years, noting that a major opportunity exists for the company to participate in developing the region's infrastructure, given the stable and promising recovery of the region.

For example, in the United Arab Emirates, where Siemens' headquarters is based, this year's GDP growth reached 5.2 per cent - well above the 4.8 per cent forecast by the IMF and the fastest rate since 2007. Since last year, the property market in the country has revived, providing a timely boost to restart construction projects. Dubai's selection as the host of the World Expo 2020 has also added to the upbeat business sentiment, which will support the overall economy.

On the other hand, Siersdorfer noted, roads in Gulf countries, particularly in Dubai, are extremely congested.

"Clearly, there is an urgent need to develop the infrastructure and enhance people's mobility to facilitate business while having more people access alternative energy both at work and in their daily life," Siersdorfer remarked.

The chief executive declined to unveil details of business deals Siemens is currently negotiating but was confident of the company's involvement in the region's infrastructure projects in the coming period.

"In the Middle East, we face very tough competition, but we also have a fair chance of coping with it. You know, I like competition because it keeps you alert and eager to get the best cost and the best everything. We want to fight the competition and get better," he said.

In addition, he noted, the company has established its high-quality credit rating through a series of landmark projects that use advanced technology to not only conserve available energy but also produce a sustainable impact on the environment.

One example, Siersdorfer pointed out, was the major power and water facility in the Jebel Ali Complex in the United Arab Emirates.

The Jebel Ali complex has been in operation since the early 1990s, producing around 7,800MW of energy from seven stations and forming the backbone of Dubai's power supply. Of the seven stations, Siemens has supplied equipment to four.

The newest of these, Jebel Ali M, has the largest capacity among the four stations and provides power generated from highly efficient gas turbines to one million households in Dubai. The facility produces 2,060 MW of electricity and 140 million gallons (530 million litres) of desalinated water per day.

According to Siemens, its wet compression technology at the M station uses water injection to increase the power output of the gas turbines by reducing the compressor inlet temperatures, thus boosting the station's power output by 15 per cent within 20 minutes without any extra fuel consumption.

This energy-saving technology is very welcome in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East, where the governments are moving away from reliance on hydrocarbons and similar resources and are focusing on the development of knowledge economies, manufacturing, logistics hubs, finance and tourism services.

DP World's flagship port has tackled congestion head on. — Photo Imre Solt

"We are confident of contributing our eco-friendly technology to this transformation process," claimed Siersdorfer.

Another milestone project that signifies Siemens' green commitment is a new system that provides UAE residents a cheaper and more efficient method of cooling compared to traditional forms such as air conditioning.

In partnership with Emirates District Cooling (Emicool) LLC, Siemens has supplied technology to two cooling plants, with each plant providing refrigeration services to 4,500 customers in Motor City, including residents, retail outlets and the autodrome racing track area.

With this system, water cooled at a central location is delivered via pipelines to numerous buildings within a development area, where it is then used to cool the air in each building's air-conditioning system. A single district cooling plant can meet the cooling needs of many buildings, using electricity or natural gas for power and utilising fresh water, seawater or recycled water as the cooling agent.

Joerg Scheifler, director of infrastructure and cities sector, Siemens Middle East, suggested that the centrally located model of district cooling means developers benefit from reduced capital requirements and operating costs, less frequent maintenance, space savings and lower power consumption compared with more traditional air-conditioning systems.

He also pointed out that the adoption of district cooling produced a softer environmental impact. Every tonne of district cooling capacity installed can save one tonne of CO2 emissions compared to conventional air conditioning.

In the summertime, temperatures in Gulf countries exceed 50 degrees Celsius, and according to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority's estimates, there is a 40 per cent increase in demand for power, primarily used for cooling during summer afternoons.

Around 70 per cent of the power generation in the region is used for cooling, so efficiency is paramount to ensure that power generation and the associated infrastructure are not strained beyond their reliable operating capacity.

Siemens' efficient use of power is also applied at regional iconic locations such as the United Arab Emirates' largest mosque, Sheikh Zayed, which can accommodate 41,000 worshippers. Since 2007, a Siemens building management and control system has been installed at the Sheikh Zayed mosque to provide substantial energy savings and a comfortable indoor air quality during peak prayer times.

Siersdorfer noted that in addition to efforts to integrate with the region's economic development and diversification, the company has focused on local training as part of its long-term strategy. The company has conducted different projects, from providing practical training to local engineers and supplying science experiment kits to school-aged children to supporting university students through scholarships and awards.

"Many companies are solely project-based; we are not," Siersdorfer stressed.

Through education and training, we hope to create sustainable hi-tech, skilled jobs for people who will hold active roles in the region's transformation into a strong economy that reaps benefits from renewable energy, he continued.

Siemens currently funds the annual Student Award Competition, which gathers teams from 120 universities across the Middle East to pit their inventions against various challenges involving cooling and solar panel cleaning, among other things.

Since its appearance in the Middle East in 1856, Siemens has been a partner in many important infrastructure projects amongst the 16 regional countries.

In Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, Siemens is executing a 1.5 billion euro ($2.1billion) turnkey system for two unmanned subway lines. The Riyadh Metro will have six lines and a total route length of 175 kilometres, making it the world's largest subway once it goes into operation.

Last September, Siemens was awarded a contract by the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) to supply high-voltage substations to two of KNPC's largest refineries.

The company has made 75 per cent of the substations in Qatar.

With such a positive outlook, Siersdorfer declared that Siemens Middle East was not planning to cut any jobs to get the company in line with Siemens AG's global restructuring vision, which was published last May. — VNS

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