Putting the pieces together to power up GCC mega projects
After its arrival in the Gulf in 1991, temporary power provider Aggreko has put together an impressive portfolio of projects. Managing director Derek Shepherd explains how the firm keeps the construction boom going.
How is Aggreko involved in the construction industry in the Gulf?
The need for temporary power during construction is obvious. When there is no grid, you need to generate your own power supply. What we do here in the Middle East, particularly in Dubai where so much infrastructure is going on, is to power tower cranes, concrete mixing plants, crushing plants, labour camps and site offices right through to the commissioning of buildings. We run the air conditioning, pumps and dry the buildings out before Dubai Electricity and Water Authority makes its connection, and we sometimes actually run completed buildings.
Aside from temporary power generators do you offer any other solutions?
We also provide temporary air conditioning and temporary chilled water to the construction industry. Where you have large construction sites, permanently installed chillers are not typically available before the contractors install air pumping inside the building, so it puts the building ahead of schedule if contractors can run chilled water through the pipe work. We are doing the temperature control project on the Atlantis [on the Palm Jumeirah]. They are on schedule on the construction but behind schedule on the installation, so the permanent chillers have not arrived yet. We can pump chilled water through the system for the customer before the chillers are installed.
Which projects are you involved with in Dubai?
Festival City is one of our biggest. There are distribution points all over the site, and at peak we have had between 60 or 70 generators there. We started on the day they went on site to put a spade into the ground, and that work will go on for us for six or seven years. A lot of Dubai is like that. We started work on the Marina four or five years ago and it will take another three or four years to finish it. We are also powering in Business Bay, all the Palms, the Arabian Ranches and Jumeriah Lake Towers.
How much power is generally required for a construction site?
The average 20-storey building under construction would require one generator. In Dubai, a 5MW machine would cope with a big project.
However, the Burj Dubai runs off 13MW, because it needs express lifts, pumps in case of emergency, and workers and materials need to get up and down - it's like a motorway laid up in the air. A huge amount of energy is needed to drive this.
What is the capacity of your generators?
You can basically put the generators together in building blocks. There is no real limitation to what we can supply. We could almost supply the whole of Dubai if we put all of our equipment around different areas of the city.
With such a variety of construction projects going on, is each solution tailor made?
Every project is different and that makes it interesting. There are cables, panels, switchgear, transformers, pumps, fuel tanks, and everyone wants something different. We put the plan together; it needs to be engineered properly.
Why have you chosen Jebel Ali as your international head office?
Dubai has moved from being a regional hub to our global hub for international business. From Dubai we can send our generators anywhere in the world, by ship or airfreight. We have sent equipment as far as Chile, Mexico, Shanghai, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
Our business in Dubai is growing by about 40% a year because there is so much construction going on. I see Dubai as being probably about halfway through its development. There is a lot more to do here and the money is here to do it.