Electricity interconnections and market integration
After many years of planning and construction, the first stage of the GCC power interconnection grid, connecting KSA, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait started its operation in July 2009. The grid is scheduled to connect also the UAE in 2011 and Oman shortly thereafter. The operating entity, the GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA), is based in Saudi Arabia. This 1 billion Euro project is shared by GCC countries, with shares allocated according to avoided costs (reduction in need for strategic reserves after interconnection). Integration of the GCC countries’ electricity systems will improve reliability of electricity supply and will allow pooling of reserves, leading to reduced investment in new capacity, economies of scale in new construction, diversification of generation mix and better load management, taking advantage of different hourly or seasonal differences in peak load demand. In addition, this project, one of the first pan-GCC schemes to get off the ground, could provide a model for regional cooperation, fostering economic and social integration of the countries involved.
Eventual further interconnections with the Mashrek region would constitute a step towards the implementation of the long term vision of a future large scale export route of solar electricity towards Europe. As in the GCC there are huge non populated areas, electricity transmission in AC mode might be prohibitive; it would make sense to investigate the possibility of DC transmission, which increases capacity and has lower losses.
European research institutes and power utilities have extensive, decade-long experience in integrating electricity networks from a technical but also institutional and regulatory point of view. Cooperation between European and GCC organizations should thus be very beneficial. Cooperation will include also R&D collaboration in the field of smart energy networks, which is addressed by the EU as an area of priority and promoted through FP7 and other research programs.
The Discussion Group consists of a number of selected qualified experts from the EU and the GCC regions with proven professional and/or research record in the specific field, thus capable of contributing and participating in collaboration activities including:
- know-how and technology transfer,
- policies discussion,
- examination of state-of-the art technologies,
- best practices discussion and promotion,
- research collaboration,
- dissemination and promotion of relevant demonstration projects, and
- facilitation and promotion of relevant EU-GCC cooperation initiatives and projects.
Members of the Discussion Group will be able to follow closely the group activities that are launched. Indicative benefits include:
- invitation for participation in thematic working events, network meetings, training seminars as well as web-meetings, and
- personal account in the private experts collaboration Area within the Network web-platform.
- Dr Najib Dandachi, Asset Management Director, Transco, Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority UAE
- John Traynor, Senior Consultant on Electricity Integration, ESB International, Dublin, Ireland