Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries will spend billions of dollars over the next decade to modernise their electric grids and add solar generation resources -- including $9.8 billion cumulatively for smart grid infrastructure by 2024 -- according to research by Northeast Group LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based smart infrastructure market intelligence firm.
MENA countries are taking a two-pronged approach to addressing their power sector challenges.
"The first is the installation of over 26 GW of solar capacity by 2024, led by Saudi Arabia. This will allow them to reduce their reliance on oil and gas power generation," said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. "The second approach is to deploy smart grid infrastructure that will help incorporate this solar power, enable better electricity demand management and improve reliability."
Smart grid will enable the incorporation of $27.9 billion in new solar resources, and MENA countries can save between $1 billion to $3.5 billion per year by redirecting domestic energy consumption towards exports, according to the research.
Smart grid activity is picking up throughout the region with wealthy Gulf countries looking to better manage electricity demand, Northeast Group says. For example, countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are seeking to reduce electricity theft while countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia are aiming to manage the intermittency created by increased use of solar power.
"The MENA region has a number of diverse drivers and will benefit from a wide range of smart grid infrastructure," said Gardner. "Smart metering is the leading segment, but distribution automation will also be very important for these countries. Furthermore, 'smart city' initiatives around the Gulf are demonstrating advanced smart grid and renewable energy applications."
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12 December 2017