Gulf electricity-sharing grid looks to expand
Sep 28, 2012 - reuters.com
By Maha El Dahan
ABU DHABI (Reuters) - A unified Gulf Arab electricity
grid created to share capacity in emergencies is
set for expansion by 2019 with an estimated investment
of up to $420 million due to rising consumption,
an official of the overseeing authority said on Sunday.
Officials also said they were looking to link the
grid to Egypt, and to Europe via Turkey.
The grid has been working since 2009 with trading
touching the equivalent of 800,000 megawatt-hours
annually, said Ahmed al-Ebrahim, chief operating
officer of the Dammam-based Gulf Cooperation Council
Interconnection Authority (GCCIA).
“In around five years in 2019 we will need
to expand the grid as consumption is increasing around
6 to 10 percent a year,” he told reporters.
"We have started initial studies for it and
we hope to start the project soon. The study will
be complete in around two years.”
The current total capacity of the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) grid is 1,200 MW, the maximum power
that can be transferred to any country at any time.
The cost of expansion could be about 20 or 30 percent
of the initial $1.4 billion cost of building the
grid, he said. That works out at up to $420 million.
GCC member states -- Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain,
Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman -- are all
part of the grid.
They shared the cost of constructing the grid based
on the benefits they would accrue from it.
Each state maintains a minimal reserve level in
the grid to support one another in times of emergencies.
The usage has varied from state to state depending
on their needs, but the biggest was when a state
faced a deficit of 3,000 MW, he said, declining to
name the country.
"More than 1,100 emergency situations have
been faced in the past five years in which there
would have been power cuts if it weren't for the
grid,” said Ebrahim.
Electricity demand in the Gulf states peaks in the
summer months of June-August, while there is surplus
power during the rest of the year which can be exported
outside the region.
The interconnection will also enable the six Gulf
states to establish an energy trading market and
in the long term link with Europe, he said.
Saleh al-Awaji, the Saudi deputy electricity minister,
said a link to Europe could be established through
"Now we are at the stage of negotiations and
discussions with the Turkish authorities in order
to have a first phase connecting the regional network
with Turkey," Awaji told a meeting of the GCCIA.
The first phase of that project would involve a
5,000 MW capacity line which could potentially be
doubled in a later phase, Awaji said.
Consumption in Europe peaks in winter, when the
Gulf has excess capacity.
"This is why we expect to have good trading
opportunities with the European market," he
In the shorter term, the GCC grid aims to connect
with the Egyptian network through Saudi Arabia. The
two countries plan a power grid that will allow them
to share up to 3,000 MW.
Awaji said bidding for that project would be launched
in early 2015 and he expected it to be in operation
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