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Power Up: Iraq To Add 1.5 Gigawatts To Its Grid

A decade ago, some parts of Iraq averaged just a few hours of electricity per day. While electricity conditions have dramatically improved for most Iraqis, when the searing summer heat arrives and the thermometer climbs above 110 degrees for days in a row, power plant operators and people across the country feel the strain.

But relief is on the way. The Iraqi government, Mass Energy Group Holding (MGH) and GE Power announced this week they would add as much as 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of generation capacity to the Besmaya power plant near Baghdad. Besmaya, already Iraq’s largest power station, will receive four 9F gas turbines from GE Power to bring its capacity to 4.5 GW, enough electricity to supply up to 4.5 million Iraqi households. MGH will supply electricity from the new extension of the plant to the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

“As the first independent power project in central Iraq, Besmaya set benchmarks in public-private sector partnerships and contributions to Iraq’s electricity network,” said Iraqi Minister of Electricity H.E. Dr. Luay al-Khatteeb. “It has not only shown that Iraq can be an attractive destination for private sector investments in the energy sector but more importantly, it has played a critical role in helping the government to increase supplies of reliable, efficient and affordable power to meet the needs of our citizens. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with MGH and GE through the further expansion of Besmaya power plant.”

Besmaya, already Iraq’s largest power station, will receive four 9F gas turbines from GE Power to bring its total capacity to 4.5 GW, enough electricity to supply up to 4.5 million Iraqi households. Images credit: (Top) Getty Images, (above) GE Power.

GE had already agreed to supply Besmaya’s existing eight gas turbines, four units of its steam turbines, a multiyear agreement involving power plant operations and maintenance services, and software to improve the plant’s performance.

Besmaya Phase 3 is the largest power plant by output to be added to Iraq’s national grid since 2014. The project is expected to add the first 500 megawatts (MW) to the grid as early as next year, with the balance coming online in 2021.

MGH and GE earlier brought up to 4 GW of power online in the Kurdistan region of Iraq through the Erbil, Duhok and Sulaymaniyah power plants.

Some 300 GE employees work across the country, and up to 90% are local Iraqis. Since 2011, the company has helped bring 14 GW of power online across Iraq, including up to 1.4 GW in liberated areas like Diyala and Mosul.

GE installed its first gas turbine in Iraq in 1965. Fifty-five years later, GE technology can generate up to 55% of the country’s electricity.

“From being among the first to help rebuild power infrastructure in conflict-affected areas such as Diyala and Mosul to providing equipment and services for Iraq’s first independent power plant, we have not just promised but continuously delivered on our commitment to help power progress for the people of Iraq,” said Joseph Anis, president and CEO of GE’s Gas Power Systems and Power Services businesses in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

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