Finnish firm Wärtsilä has been contracted to supply new equipment to increase by 50% the capacity of a gas-fired power station in Egypt.

Kahraba, a subsidiary of Egypt Kuwait Holding (EKH), contracted Wärtsilä to deliver new generating equipment that will grow by 20MW the output of the 40MW Borg El Arab power plant located some 45km southwest of Alexandria.

The work, which involves installing two additional engines, is expected to be completed in 2023. Borg El Arab plant currently runs on four Wärtsilä 34SG engines fired by natural gas.

Under the same contract, the Finnish firm is also expected to equip the plant with the latest generation control system.

The station’s expansion follows an upsurge in industrial demand for electricity in the region, according to company executives.

“Industrial growth is vital to the region’s economic development, and a reliable power supply is essential for driving this growth,” said Kahraba chairman and managing director Magdi El Badry.

Kahraba is one of Egypt’s largest IPP companies and the country’s only authorised private buyer and seller of natural gas.

“By operating the engines on locally available natural gas, the plant’s environmental footprint is lessened. Furthermore, the flexibility of the Wärtsilä engines will enable the system to incorporate increasing levels of energy from renewable sources,” said Wärtsilä Energy, Africa West director Marc Thiriet.

Egypt, which sees gas as a clean energy source, has set a target for renewables to comprise 42% of the country’s electricity mix by 2035, based on rapid solar and wind energy deployment. The fast-starting and stopping capabilities of gas engines provide grid-balancing needed to compensate for the intermittency of renewables, making the plants viable spinning reserves.

Wärtsilä said that its new generation engines are geared to operate on sustainable fuels in the future. Already, some of the company’s engines can use synthetic and carbon-neutral methane and methanol, and hydrogen blends. Sustainable fuels together with engines can take care of long-term energy storage needs for periods with persistently low wind or solar conditions.