Integrated smart power grid inevitable in GCC

The development of an integrated smart power grid system across the GCC region is becoming inevitable with time as the industry is witnessing a massive change across the power generation, transmission, distribution, consumption, said a top official of global engineering company with extensive exposure to power sector.

The significant change in the traditional model of power generation, rapid technological advancement and consumer awareness towards efficiency and climate change will dictate the power companies to abandon the one-way model of power distribution and put in place a two-way system that enables consumers to not only consume power but also to transfer back their surplus power. The renewable sources of power generation are no longer a romantic story. The significant fall in per unit cost of generating power through solar PV, wind and others, are competing with the conventional sources without subsidies, thus power generation, transmission and distribution model is becoming a two-way system enabling individual buildings and households generating surplus power to transfer it back to the grid.

“The traditional method of power generation is undergoing a big change all over the world, and the GCC and the Middle East region is no exception. Now power is being produced in many areas and locations such as private buildings, houses and smaller renewable sources. Now you have power going both ways, and the generation and usage both are not constant, so you need to start mapping data on the same. This will need a smart grid system for the smooth functioning of the power sector,” Adrian Wood, CEO of Siemens Qatar told The Peninsula.

Wood added: “When you have cycles of power generation and usage, the peaks and trough, it is very in efficient to run large turbines. They should be running flat, and the most efficient way of doing it is to smooth the peak and trough as much as possible.”

He explained that the smart grid enables to move certain power usage or having differential pricing mechanism so that users know when to use how much power. With smart power grid system users can see everything about it on their smartphones and take decisions accordingly as when to consume how much power.

For instance, if you need to recharge your car, but you intend to drive only the next day, you can wait and recharge it at night when the power becomes cheaper (may be due to less demand from the industrial enclaves). This is the most efficient and smart way of doing things at minimum damage to the environment.

“The billing of the power will depend on the time of its usage. People will classify their power usage in different times depending on prices. So creating awareness, billing data, billing model, and all that will be possible only with smart gird,” noted Wood.

He cited another example of the smart and rational way of power usage. For example, if a fast charging facility in his neighbourhood is more expensive than slower charging system elsewhere, a motorist would prefer to charge his vehicle when he visits a shopping mall or at work place where he may stay for hours. Notably, a recent report on Middle East’s power sector revealed that one of the most important steps towards improving electricity diversification and conservation in the GCC is to develop smart grids.

According to the MENA Power Industry Outlook, the GCC could save up to $10bn in infrastructure investment through the use of smart grids. The report, prepared by Ventures Onsite for Middle East Electricity, forecasts that the GCC smart grid market will grow to $1.68bn by 2026 as regional governments step up their deployment of smart grid infrastructure in the face of increased demand for energy storage systems.

Source from: The Peninsula