Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries are set to spend billions of dollars over the next decade to modernize their electric grids and add solar generation resources. This includes US$9.8 billion cumulatively for smart grid infrastructure by 2024. This is according to research by Northeast Group LLC.
MENA countries are taking a two-pronged approach to addressing their power sector challenges:
The countries will be installing over 26GW of solar capacity by 2024, with Saudi Arabia taking the lead. This will help the region to decrease their dependence on oil and gas power generation.
The countries will deploy smart grid infrastructure which will help incorporate the growth of solar power, enable better electricity demand management and improve reliability.
The smart grid will support the incorporation of US$27.9 billion in new solar resources, and MENA countries can expect to save between US$1 billion to US$3.5 billion per year by re-directing local energy consumption towards exports, according to the research. [Engerati-Going Solar-Morocco to Save 2.5m Tons of Fossil Fuel]
Smart grid activity is picking up at a rapid rate throughout the region, particularly the wealthy Gulf countries which are aiming to improve the management of electricity demand. For instance, countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are aiming to reduce electricity theft while countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia are aiming to manage the intermittency created by the growing consumption of solar power.
The leading segment
"The MENA region has a number of diverse drivers and will benefit from a wide range of smart grid infrastructure," explains Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. "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."
So far, much of the smart grid activity has been focused primarily in the US, Western Europe and East Asia, representing over 95% of the installed base of smart meters. However, today, many other countries are beginning to become well-positioned in this market as the benefits are understood.