Synchronizing Southeast: New MAPNA turbine supplies power to Sistan & Baluchistan Province

Synchronizing Southeast: New MAPNA turbine supplies power to Sistan & Baluchistan Province

On Thursday November 22nd, Reza Ardakanian, Minister of Power, made a short stop at Zahedan, center of the Sistan and Baluchistan Province, to inaugurate a new power plant which runs on MGT-40, MAPNA Group’s newest turbine. The power plant will be synchronized to the national grid by early January.

A historical region once known as ‘Nimrooz’, or mid-day, as it was known to be the site of the old world's Prime Meridian, the Sistan and Baluchistan now strives to turn into a developed region. For this, it needs an excessive supply of utilities especially electrical power.

Zahedan, the capital city, bears the brunt of a harsh climate.
With a population of nearly 600 thousand, the city is fed electricity by a 226-MW power plant located five kilometers outside its suburbs. Yet the power plant is in need of rehabilitation, since many of its equipment are dilapidated. Low efficiency makes load shedding inevitable, even during the scorching summers of the city when the temperature goes as high as 37◦C (98.6 Fahrenheit).

The new MAPNA gas turbine is now there to strengthen the supply of power– to some extent.
“Gas turbines are one of the proudest artefacts created by humankind” says Abbas Aliabadi, CEO of MAPNA Group, who happens to be a professor of mechanical engineering. “They have served us for years, and will continue to do no in many areas.”

MGT-40 was originally planned to be a joint product between MAPNA and internationally renowned manufacturers. However, cautious about the ups and downs of international relations, MAPNA decided to adopt a self-reliance model and move forward with the project solo. "We are glad to say that obstacles paved the ground for our success,” says Aliabadi. "The systems and subsystems in this project are proprietary products" he adds with pride. But he is quick to remind that MAPNA did not reinvent the wheel. "You can't claim you made an achievement relying only on domestic knowhow" he says. "We solicited help from anyone, anywhere."
But there's more to the turbine than supplying power for Zahedan. MGT-40 dovetails with Iran's decentralization plans in both power and population. Spatial planning masterplans have been drawn up to distribute the population evenly across the country, particularly along Iran's 1800-km borders on the coast of the Persian Gulf. This is where MGT-40 can sweep in. The challenge is the region needs to cope with increasing water demand. But MAPNA is on board with this mission, and its CHP (combined heat and power) plants are already desalinating water for the local population in Qeshm, the largest island on the Persian Gulf. MGT-40 can speed up this process. "MAPNA is trying to be a responsible corporation" says Aliabad.

Why has MAPNA decided to produce a new turbine? Mohsen Pirmohammadi, research manager in R&D Department of MAPNA Group's central office explains the trajectory. "Development of MGT-40 was a direct result of the maturity of MAPNA Group's R&D departments had acquired in the late 2000s,” he explains. "At that point, we believed we were capable of developing a medium-scale turbine". This was part of MAPNA Group's mission to muscle up in design and engineering of turbines, and boost its problem-solving capacity. "The megaproject was a unique, splendid experience for MAPNA Group for two reasons" Pirmohammadi tells us. "For developing technologies that we lacked before, and for integrating MAPNA Group's products in one power plant.” An integrated domestic-oriented approach meant that several MAPNA companies would chip in. TUGA (MAPNA's turbine manufacturing entity) undertook manufacturing the turbine while PARS was assigned with developing its generator, dubbed MGG-41. The homegrown control system was set up by MECO - MAPNA Electric & Control Engineering and Manufacturing Company.
Aboubakr Parsafar, who supervised the construction of MGT-40 power plant in Zahedan, breaks down the commercial benefits of MGT-40. Parsafar, a senior engineer from the Power Division, believes development of MGT-40 was the result of a timely grasp of market opportunities in MAPNA Group. "We wanted to have a larger share of the small- and medium-sized turbines market." He places a particular emphasis on the turbine's application in oil & gas and petrochemical utilities, Iran's largest and most lucrative industries. "MGT-40 perfectly fits the power demands of these industries" he stresses.

Land, time, and budget. These are key advantages of MGT-40 according to Parsapour, who has gained on-the-ground experience during the construction project. "Power plants that run on MGT-40 can be set up in the shortest time" he tells us. Indeed, it took MAPNA only 10 months to set up the Zahedan power plant. "This period can he reduced to six month in future projects" Parsapour adds. Land, or its lack thereof, a serious concern in power plant construction projects, also becomes a marginal concern with MGT-40, since only a 50m in 60m square piece of it is needed, unlike large-scale power plants which need a much larger area And there's money concerns: "When it's not possible to finance large-scale power plants, MGT-40 is a matchless product" Parsafar says.