Nowadays,investment innovation,intelligent and digital operation have become one of the main tasks for global power companies to achieve energy transformation and reduce carbon emissions.Developed countries in Europe and North America have strengthened their smart grid deployment plans in the past decade,but developing countries,including the Middle East,have been unable to stabilize energy supply and demand due to insufficient funds,inadequate planning,energy theft,and low energy efficiency of consumers,which have limited the development of smart grid.
At present,governments in the Middle East have realized that upgrading smart grids in line with international standards can solve energy challenges and improve the revenue of power companies,reduce dependence on oil and gas and coal for power generation,and contribute to economic diversification.Some countries in the Middle East have recently implemented subsidy reform policies and established mechanisms for investing in energy upgrading.These policies pave the way for cooperation between local power companies,technology companies and governments,international smart grid providers and early deployment countries.
It is reported that by 2027,investment in AMI in the Middle East and North Africa will reach$9.5 billion,and 55.4 million smart meters are planned to be deployed.Saudi Arabia will become the largest smart grid market in the Middle East and North African countries.It will deploy an advanced metering infrastructure of 8.3 million smart meters in 2027,with a smart grid market capacity of 3.6 billion US dollars.
Kuwait Smart Grid Development Plan
Despite market challenges,countries including Kuwait have begun to launch smart grid pilot projects to promote the road map.Kuwait Hydropower has established partnerships with Zain,a local telecommunications company,SAP,Ericsson,a system integrator,and Oliver Wyman,a business consultant.It plans to deploy about 800,000 smart meters and 300,000 smart meters by 2035.This cooperation can help Kuwait overcome some of the challenges that hinder the development of smart grids,such as the huge investment needed to upgrade infrastructure and clear provisions on the Internet of Things and data security.
Previous challenges in Kuwait included the untimely issuance of bills,complex customer-oriented processes and excessive consumption of infrastructure.Dr.Meshan Alotaibi,Kuwait Hydropower Authority,said:"By working with leading technology companies around the world,we can receive accurate meter billing information in real time,enhance business maintenance and sustainability,develop new business models,solve failures and energy theft in a timely manner,all of which are in line with the wise government objectives of Kuwait's national development plan."
Telecommunications and Grid Modernization
Zain and other telecom companies are building communication infrastructure to achieve smart grids and ensure timely,safe and reliable data transmission.They will also provide data center construction and hosting,as well as multiple payment channels.
Zain purchased smart meters for the Kuwaiti smart grid project from three different manufacturers,wholly owned by the Kuwaiti Hydropower Authority.The contract was signed in June 2017 and is divided into two stages for seven years:
Phase 1 covers the overall design and construction of smart meter solutions,which are expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2019.
Phase 2 will cover the operation and maintenance of the entire solution until 2024.
Future Development of Smart Grid
Close cooperation between power companies and private enterprises in the Middle East will be the key to resolving many of these challenges.Considering the rapid deployment of smart meter projects in the region,especially in Kuwait,the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,the future potential of smart grid technology in the region has grown tremendously.
However,despite the great potential of smart grid market in the Middle East,political risks still limit its development.When the U.S.government and the European Union lifted economic and trade sanctions against oil-rich countries in 2016,the threat of political risk was confirmed by the entry of several smart utility solutions providers,including Cyan Connode and Kamstrup,into the Iranian market.The extension of sanctions imposed by the U.S.government on Iran directly led to the withdrawal of some European Union and North American smart grid providers from the market.