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The power of generating power
Charles Levey is VP of Pratt & Whitney Power Systems. He spoke to Atique Naqvi about generating energy in the region, about climate change skeptics, and about dealing with Iran.
February 6, 2011 5:22 by Atique Naqvi
Are you planning to operate more units in the region?
Absolutely. We commissioned 60MW plant in Sharjah. I can’t comment on the future project as they are still under negotiations. I can assure you that by the next summer we’ll have more plants in the region operated through our technology, especially in the GCC countries.
We see Middle East as the market where we would like to operate actively. Earlier, our presence was limited due to technological constraints. We have witnessed a lot of success in the region and we are also making heavy investments in renewable energy technology. The Arab world has great people and culture, and it is a wonderful place to operate.
Power generation in this region is handled by government agencies. Do you prefer private players?
I don’t have a preference. Both players have some advantages. The government agencies are sometimes difficult to work with due to their strict terms, conditions and guidelines but the partners do not face any financial woes working with state players as the government’s balance sheets are generally secured. On the other hand, private players are more flexible but less risk averse.
What is your view about the nuclear power generation projects in the GCC?
We have so many natural resources and if people want to diversify their energy resources and not just depend on fossil fuels, there is no harm in it. It is always good to have a diversified energy portfolio, but efforts should be made to invest and develop renewable and sustainable energy sources. Though green technology is expensive, it is clean as well. Nuclear power is the cleanest and the safest form of energy and over the year after accidents such as Chernobyl in Russia, the technology has improved significantly. We should use what Mother Nature has given us, but efficiently and sensibly.
How has the global economic crisis affected Pratt & Whitney Power Systems?
We have seen a slowdown, but the recession had less of an impact on us than we originally expected. In the power generation sector, the projects are generally very large and require a lot of finance and once a project is commissioned it is not common that the project would cease to exist. Pratt & Whitney has diversified products and as our mobile generation units are very cost-effective, the demand has actually picked up. The investment in this region has been consistent.
What other markets in the world are important to you?
We are a global company. We have projects in China, Asia, North America, Europe and Latin America including Venezuela and Argentina.
Being a U.S. firm you don’t face any problems in Venezuela?
No, we have many projects in Venezuela. The political equations do not affect the business.
Then, why you are not doing business with Iran as there is a lot of energy demand in the country?
We respect laws of the United States. When it comes to national security business takes a back seat. We do not compromise on national security. We respect policies of the U.S. government.
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