Iraqi prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi inaugurated a 500 megawatt power plant in the country's south on Sunday, as Opec's second-largest producer revamps its electricity grid.
The plant, built by American multinational General Electric's power division, is the first utility-scale unit to be built in Al Muthanna governorate since 1975.
The plant currently works on the basis of a simple cycle. During the second phase of the Samawa project, the facility will be converted to a combined-cycle power plant with the capacity to generate 750MW of electricity, Ahmed Al Abadi, a spokesman for Iraq's ministry of electricity, said in a statement.
"Looking ahead, we know that Iraq still needs to add more power capacity. To that end, we are in the process of commencing work on the second phase of the Samawa project," he added.
Rebuilding Iraq's power infrastructure is a critical priority for the government. Disruptions to electrical supply have prompted protests against the government, particularly during summer months, when temperatures can reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius. GE is implementing 14 gigawatts worth of power projects in Iraq as part of a strategic overhaul of the country's utility sector.
Last week, Iraq's ministry of finance, GE and backers including the UAE's Etihad Credit Insurance reached financial close on critical power infrastructure rehabilitation projects covering seven plants in the country.
The US multinational will provide capital, spare parts, repairs and services to the Qudus, Khairat, Baghdad South, Hilla, Mussayab, Haidariya and Karbala power plants to help maintain more reliable generation of up to 2.7 gigawatts of electrical power. The power infrastructure will be supported by GE's operations in the UAE.
The multinational is already carrying out rehabilitation work at Mosul's Al Qayara power plant, Iraq's largest combined cycle plant, Besmaya in the centre of the country as well as works at the southern Najibiya power plant.
"We realise that a lot more work still needs to be done to meet Iraq’s growing energy needs and we are committed to help power the country forward with industry-leading technologies, global experts, talented local employees, and investments in community development efforts,” Joseph Anis, president and chief executive of GE Gas Power Europe, Middle East, and Africa, said.