Middle East And North African Countries To Spend Billions On Smart Grids, Solar Integration

Jun 25, 2014 -

Middle East and North African (MENA) countries will spend billions of dollars over the next decade to modernize their electric grids and add solar generation resources, according to a new study by Northeast Group LLC.

The report says this spending will include $9.8 billion cumulatively for smart grid infrastructure by 2024, which will help enable the incorporation of $27.9 billion in new solar resources. Furthermore, the report says MENA countries can save between $1 billion and $3.5 billion per year by redirecting domestic energy consumption toward exports.

"MENA countries are taking a two-pronged approach to addressing their power sector challenges," says Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. "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. The second approach is to deploy smart grid infrastructure that will help incorporate this solar power, enable better electricity demand management and improve reliability."

The report says smart grid activity is picking up throughout the region. Wealthy Gulf countries are looking to better manage electricity demand. Countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are seeking to reduce electricity theft. Finally, countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia are aiming to manage the intermittency created by the 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," adds 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."

The report notes that many global vendors are active across the MENA region. These include ABB, Alstom, Echelon, Elster, GE, Itron, Landis+Gyr, Petra Solar, SAP, Siemens, Silver Spring Networks and Suez.