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The challenge of lighting and heating a city at 25° below zero

News 28 March, 2012

* Author: Rafael Mallo *

In a city like Riga, the capital of Latvia, winter temperatures can reach 25 degrees below zero without this necessarily even being the result of cold winds from Siberia. For  this reason, supplying sufficient energy to provide heating for the whole city is absolutely essential. And that was the challenge that took me toLatviain 2009, where since 2006 Iberdrola has been engaged in building a combined cycle plant of 420 MW of electrical power and 274 MW of thermal power.

The fundamental objective of this combined cycle plant is not only electrical production –for which it is capable of supplying 50% of the country’s peak demand–, but also to supply sufficient energy to provide heating to the city of Riga, which accounts for approximately 40% of its demand. This power plant assumes vital importance during the winter months, when the temperatures hover around -25°C.

For this reason, in addition to building the power plant, Latvenergo AS –the Latvian electrical company– decided to entrust the supervision of its operation and maintenance (O&M) to Iberdrola Generación by means of an agreement which includes everything from the preliminary staff training through to compiling all the O&M manuals and managing the long-term maintenance agreements for the most important equipment. Thus Latvenergo consigns to us the supervision and consultancy for a technology in which Iberdrola has extensive experience based on the continuous improvements in its plants, in order to ensure guaranteed availability, efficiency and power throughout the entire power plant.

So far, our team has amply complied with all the requirements in the agreement and thanks to this, we have been rewarded by an excellent level of satisfaction by the client, and ultimately, by the inhabitants of Riga. The basis of this success consists of the complete dedication of all our resources to the needs of our clients, always bearing in mind Iberdrola’s paramount values, namely: creating value, improving the quality of peoples lives, safety and supply, care of the environment, and customer orientation.

For all these reasons, the fact of going to Riga for three years to become actively involved in this project has been a very important challenge and responsibility for me. The most significant barriers have been the extreme temperatures and the complexity of carrying out our work in a country which is so unlikeSpainand with such a different culture, but these are also the greatest incentive and motivation. The adaptation has been one of progressive and constant improvement, and thus the transfer of this acquired knowledge will be essential for guaranteeing continuity in plant management.

The main reasons for success in Riga are hard work and dedication of the group of people from Iberdrola Generación who relocated there, as well as the support and commitment of all colleagues with whom we work and collaborate. All of us together are managing not only to achieve some substantial business figures and a high degree of customer satisfaction, but also to effectively carry out a range of services which maintain the high quality standards of the Group.

My Latvian adventure has enabled me to develop professionally thanks to the knowledge I’ve acquired and to the satisfaction of a job well done; this is clear from the recognition we’re receiving from our clients, and is very special coming from an Eastern European country. And above all, I’ll always remember the project inLatviawith great affection, as it’s been a unique personal experience at all levels, and something I would recommend to everyone who has the opportunity to work outside their own country.

Author: Rafael Mallo
Bio: I joined Iberdrola in October 2007, when I became part of the staff of the subsidiary for Operations and Maintenance (Iomsa), where I began my training period in the combined cycle power plants in Castellón 4 and Riga. In April 2008, I was appointed assistant to the head of Operations on the combined cycle plant in Aceca (Toledo), and in January 2009 I was posted to the project in Riga for a period of three years, which concluded in December 2011. I am currently still in the Iberdrola Generación plant, in Thermal Generation Management within the Thermal Technical Services.

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