Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

Beirut explosion: Germany's Siemens to help plug massive electricity shortages in Lebanese capital

The company is sending two gas generators to provide 80MW of power in a city beset with blackouts long before last week's disaster

The German manufacturer Siemens is donating generators to provide electricity to 150,000 people in Beirut after last week's explosion, which compounded massive power shortages in the country.

Siemens's head Joe Kaeser announced the assistance during a visit to Beirut on Wednesday along with Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. It also includes medical supplies.

A statement by Siemens to The National said the company is "working closely with the officials in Lebanon on the execution steps in order to support the Lebanese people swiftly and efficiently".

"We are in the process of clarifying the logistical conditions for the turbines," the statement said.

The explosion at the Beirut port on August 4 killed 171 people, wounded more than 6,000, and

The cause was 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at the port. Foreign dignitaries have rushed to the city and countries around the world are sending emergency aid.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas views the damage at the site of a massive explosion at Beirut port, Lebanon August 12, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Rinke
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas views the damage at the scene of a massive explosion at Beirut port, Lebanon on August 12. Reuters

Siemens is sending two A45-GT gas turbines able to produce up to 80 megawatts of power. It will not charge for the annual cost of $40 million (Dh147m) to operate the turbines.

The units will be operational within six to 12 weeks and discussions are already ongoing with local partners, the company said.

“We want to provide rapid, focused support to help relieve people’s suffering quickly and with no red tape,” Mr Kaeser said. “Medical systems and electric power are vital here, and Siemens can supply both. As a global company, we feel a clear obligation to support the country and its people in this difficult situation.”

Lebanon's power cuts ran at least three hours in the capital before the disaster. Outside Beirut they can extend beyond 12 hours a day. However, in recent months the electricity crisis has deteriorated with power cuts in Beirut extending around the clock.

Even as it is unable to provide reliable power, the state electricity company also costs the treasury upward of $1.5 billion a year and is responsible for a sizeable chunk of the country's $92.4bn debt.

Siemens Energy chief executive Christian Bruch said the company can "provide fast and uncomplicated assistance."

"We’re ready to secure a reliable, affordable supply of electricity for the people of Lebanon and help them rebuild their country,” he said.

The company’s medical arm, Siemens Healthineers, is sending ultrasound and mobile X-ray units to local hospitals damaged in the explosion.

“Our hearts and minds are with the people of Beirut in this particularly difficult situation,” said Bernd Montag, chief executive of Siemens Healthineers.

Updated: August 13, 2020 06:20 PM

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