Three trends and takeaways for the MENA Power services sector

In Dubai recently, I had an opportunity to engage with more than 120 participants from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) during our seventh Technical Seminar. The discussion repeatedly touched some trends and takeaways that I would like to share here.


By Gianluigi Di Giovanni

Let me begin by reviewing the trends affecting our customers.
  1. Regional governments are demonstrating their commitment to clean energy through sustained shifts in policy that seek to both diversify and decarbonize their energy mix. This means more demand for renewable energy generating capacity.
  2. Governments are still seeking opportunities to lower OPEX and CAPEX costs through steps such as subsidy cuts; changes in procurement models (e.g., spot market, more private capital with structures like public-private partnerships), more privatizations, and increasing the local content of supply chains.
  3. Digitalization and data-driven analytics remain an area of high interest, partly for their ability to support cost cutting. Local authorities are encouraging the adoption of these efficiency-boosting, cost-cutting technologies by address one of the main risks associated with digitalization: cyberattacks. Governments are introducing cybersecurity regulations and controls that address not only IT but also OT (operational technology) requirements that are at the heart of what critical infrastructure and industrial operators do.
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Arising from our discussions, these three key takeaways emerged:
1. Collaboration is key

The power sector is defined by the breadth of its stakeholders: policymakers, utilities, technology providers, investors and consumers. Every day, we work together as part of an ecosystem. The question that emerges is, “How can we leverage this collaborative spirit to work together to address these complex issues in a sustainable, affordable, reliable and rapid manner?”

2. Balancing mods&ups and digital priorities

Progress in tackling these challenges will require us to take a balanced, two-pronged approach. This means investing in existing assets to improve the efficiency and flexibility. However, at the same time, we need to invest in digital tools, such as smart data, advanced analytics, and sensor-enabled real-time monitoring of plants.

3. Bridging the skills gap

Across many areas of the economy, employers are challenged to find qualified workers – in large part because of the rapid pace of technological change that is hitting almost every industry. It’s clear this is an issue for us in the power sector, where we are seeing significant and regular advancements in both turbine technologies and digitalization. Continuous training is necessary. Yet, at the same time, filling the skills gap does not have to mean taking on a new hire or hosting a training session. Remote technical support and virtual reality technologies can help engineers in the plant access highly specialized knowledge without travelling.

Cost optimization, efficiency improvements, and a commitment to new renewable technologies are top priorities for the power sector in the MENA region. Those of us in the power sector need to work more closely together, to build a power value chain that meets the needs of a sustainable and decarbonizing economy.

Jan 28, 2020

Gianluigi Di Giovanni is Head of Power Generation Services for Middle East and North Africa.


This article has originally been published on LinkedIn

Combined picture credits: Panda Power Funds

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