Smart grid regulatory frameworks are still in the early stages of development, however, progress is being made and governments are beginning to invest in the technologies necessary to make their grids smarter. This is because they realise that they must incentivise energy conservation. Smart grid technologies will be a feature of infrastructure investments over the next decades in the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, states a report by Northeast Group.
Northeast Group has projected that the Middle East and North African region could save between $300 million and $1 billion per year if they start using smart grids in an efficient way. Smart grids grant the region the opportunity to incorporate renewable energy sources, cope with the rising demand and reduce energy losses on the network.
The MENA countries are already investing in renewable energy sources. A perfect example is Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement that they are willing to spend $109 billion to develop 41 GW of solar capacity over the next 20 years. Smart grids can help these countries to connect the renewable energy sources more easily to the grid.
The report by Northeast Group also predicts the smart metering market to rise to 16.1 million units by 2022. The Gulf will see the majority of near-term activity, with 86% of homes having smart meters by 2022. Currently, the UAE leads the smart meter market in the MENA region with Abu Dhabi already undertaking smart grid strategies and Masdar city being praised as a ‘pioneer’ for smart and other environmentally sustainable technologies.