OBG talks to Touffik Fredj, President & CEO for North-west Africa, General Electric (GE)

 Touffik Fredj, President & CEO for North-west Africa, General Electric (GE)

Interview: Touffik Fredj

How much potential is there for the development of smart grids, and how can it be encouraged?

TOUFFIK FREDJ: GE’s approach to smart grids integrates two key infrastructures: firstly, electrical, focused on renewable sources and enhanced productivity, and secondly, information, empowering customers, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening energy sector efficiencies. There are tremendous opportunities for growth in Algeria, where energy demand is estimated to be growing at an average annual rate of about 14%, and is set to increase from 12 GW currently to 20 GW by 2017.

To address this demand, the government has invested in infrastructure. Its commitment to promoting energy sector efficiencies and exploring various sources of renewable energy sources is a strong incentive for the private sector to share their competencies. The key step in promoting smart grid development is to drive more public-private partnerships to achieve set goals.

As a strategy aligned with our “ecomagination” commitment to deliver environmentally sustainable solutions, GE remains confident that Algeria will realise its potential in smart grids that are not only economically competitive but also promote energy independence while supporting the empowerment of our customers.

What kind of challenges does Algeria face in terms of managing power demand during peak times?

FREDJ: The most important factor to consider in managing peak load is to strengthen the network’s operational efficiencies. Overall demand management can be streamlined by improving awareness of the importance of rationalising energy usage at peak times. However, from an operational point of view, it is equally important to explore and check generation, transmission and distribution losses. We see a strong and committed focus by Algeria to strengthen its power sector efficiencies, highlighted by the use of advanced technologies. The use of reliable and flexible technologies help address generation, transmission and distribution losses, and promotes overall operational efficiency.

How can changes to the regulatory framework prove attractive from the perspective of potential independent power producer (IPP) projects?

FREDJ: Above all, it is the level of the government’s commitment that will determine the success of IPP projects. There is a strong interest in the country today in creating a favourable regulatory mechanism to encourage public-private partnerships. We are partnering with Sonelgaz in improving the efficiency, output and reliability of 51 advanced gas turbines installed in 13 power plants in Algeria with an installed capacity of 7.9 GW, about 50% of the total in the country.

To what extent does desalination offer a sustainable solution to the country’s water supply needs?

FREDJ: The success of GE’s flagship development, the Hamma Desalination Plant, jointly owned by GE (70%) and the Algerian Energy Company (30%), is strong testimony to the effectiveness of desalination in meeting the country’s needs with regards to water supply.

As one of the largest membrane desalination facilities in Africa, the plant commenced its operations in 2008. Today, it delivers around 200,000 cu metres of fresh water per day to over 25% of the population of Algiers, that is, over 350,000 families and close to 1m people. In the first five years of operation, the plant has delivered over 300m cu metres of fresh water. Today, the plant is seen as an effective answer to a long-standing scarcity of fresh water that is faced by the capital. Hamma Desalination Plant is a model in the operation of energy-efficient desalination, using advanced ecomagination-certified reverse osmosis membrane technology to purify seawater, thus assuring a reliable and drought-proof supply of fresh water.

In order to further strengthen the desalination sector, it will be necessary to enhance energy sector efficiencies. Indeed, the two issues are ultimately interlinked, and as a result must be tackled together. Exploring green desalination projects, for example through solar energy, are options that may be evaluated effectively.

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The Report: Algeria 2013

Energy chapter from The Report: Algeria 2013

Cover of The Report: Algeria 2013

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