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Five Years On – Belt And Road Breaks New Ground, Forges New Partnerships

China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) plan to create a 21st century Silk Road connecting Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa, keeps evolving and breaking new ground five years on since its launch.

While OBOR is commonly associated with the building of new “belts” of overland corridors, and a maritime “road” of shipping lanes, life-changing infrastructure projects like new power generation and distribution initiatives, are also in development in various OBOR countries.

Powering OBOR

Upcoming projects, trends, and innovations expected to shape the OBOR energy landscape in the near-term were showcased at the “China for the World” (CFTW) 2018 Energy Infrastructure Cooperation Forum in Beijing on November 1. Now in its fifth year, the GE-Caixin Media event is China’s first private-sector forum focusing on best practices for Chinese infrastructure companies in going global.

Discussion around joint market-development, financing, and operations to provide long-term energy benefits for local markets were one of the focus areas of the 2018 CFTW event.

Power Financing

Opportunities to tap China’s capital markets, and share global funds, to finance new energy projects was a high-interest topic at the forum. Enabling Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPCs) companies to be actively involved in the operations of new facilities – e.g. taking an increased stake following construction – was recommended as a good way to attract new financing.

New Partnerships

The forum also provided an opportunity for attendees to network, and announce new deals and agreements – GE signed a number of new deals at the event including:

  • India Godda Coal-fired Power Plant: GE and SEPCO3, a subsidiary of PowerChina, booked a contract for the supply of India’s Godda-2×800 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant project. GE will provide two 800MW ultra-supercritical steam turbine generators which will be jointly supplied by GE’s ABP factory in Beijing, China and its Sanand factory in India. SEPCO3 will provide construction and equity financing. Located in the Gunda area of Jalang, the plant is developed by Adani Power Co., Ltd. of India under the IPP model. It is India’s first ultra-supercritical coal-fired power station project, and GE’s first project with a Chinese EPC in India. When completed, the plant will provide reliable, efficient power to up to four million households in neighboring Bangladesh.
  • Thar Coal Block II Services Agreement: GE Power and Thar Energy Limited (TEL) – a subsidiary of The Hub Power Company Limited signed a long-term services agreement for the 330MW mine mouth lignite-fired plant at Thar Coal Block II Sindh. The plant will be constructed by China Machinery Engineering Corporation. GE will provide the steam turbine and advanced boiler technology, manufactured at GE’s factories in China (specially designed to produce power using lignite from Pakistan’s Thar mines) to support Pakistan’s energy security objectives. Under this contract, GE will perform all services and supply the required parts for main equipment outages pertaining to boilers, turbines and generators. It will also provide performance guarantees over the next 12 years to reduce TEL’s operating & maintenance costs over the lifetime of the plant and provide efficient, reliable power deploying GE’s state of the art & digital technology. Upon completion, TEL will provide approximately 300MW of electricity to the national grid, the equivalent power needed to supply up to 600,000 Pakistani homes and industries. The project is one of the infrastructure ventures supported under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
  • Teaming Agreement for Fast Power: GE finalized strategic teaming agreement with Energy China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) subsidiary, NEPC, to offer competitive Aero-derivative power plant solutions for global customers. This agreement will include joint Aero standard plant design, project development, and sales support.
  • Providing Power in Iraq: GE and SINOMACH subsidiary, China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), signed an MOU to leverage both parties’ strengths and experiences in Iraq to jointly create better access to electricity in the country. The agreement builds on the Principles of Cooperation (POC) that GE signed with the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity in October to develop the country’s power sector. The plan is expected to generate up to 14GW of power, create up to 65,000 direct and indirect jobs, support the government to realize savings and recoverable losses of up to $3 billion per year, establish a local technology center and support water and healthcare access.

Emerging Options for Emerging Markets

Although emerging nations with strong demand for power offer great prospects for energy players, geopolitical risk, low investor awareness, and selecting ‘best-fit’ projects for specific markets are some major challenges for developers. Given the decreasing cost of renewables, and rise of hybrid projects, the last point is especially relevant, and forum participants agreed that delivering tangible results to local communities through economically, and environmentally sustainable solutions, was fundamental to the continued success of OBOR.

A Global Gathering

The 2018 CFTW event was attended by more than 700 global energy experts including government officials, Chinese EPC company representatives, project end-users, and financiers.

Rachel Duan, President & CEO, GE China said the forum has grown from strength-to-strength, “We have forged partnerships which harness the technology, engineering, and financing capabilities of multiple players on a global scale, to bring power and tangible economic benefits to communities along the Belt & Road.  We have also joined together to innovate with new business models and new ways of working across geographies, to that allow us to develop energy infrastructure in these markets.”

Since GE began working with Chinese EPCs more than 20 years ago, it has delivered over 35 GW of power to developing markets, with an additional 20 GW worth of power underway or pledged based on orders through the first half of 2018. Nearly two thirds of these orders have originated in the past five years alone, spurred by Chinese EPCs increasingly going global under the Belt and Road initiative.

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