Middle East and North African (MENA) countries are set to spend US$9.8 billion on smart grid infrastructure by 2024, including smart meters, distribution automation and smart city technology, predicts new research from US company Northeast Group.
Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group, explains: "MENA countries are taking a two-pronged approach to addressing their power sector challenges.
"The first is the installation of over 26 GW of solar capacity by 2024, led by Saudi Arabia, which will allow them to reduce their reliance on oil and gas power generation.
"The second approach is to deploy smart grid infrastructure that will help incorporate this solar power, enable better electricity demand management and improve reliability."
Smart grid activity is picking up throughout the region supplied by vendors such as ABB, Alstom, Echelon, Elster, GE, Itron, Landis+Gyr, Petra Solar, SAP, Siemens, Silver Spring Networks and Suez.
Smart grid drivers
Wealthy Gulf countries are looking to better manage electricity demand. Countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are seeking to reduce electricity theft, while countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia are aiming to manage the intermittency created by increased use of solar power.
Mr Gardner said: "The MENA region has a number of diverse drivers and will benefit from a wide range of smart grid infrastructure.
"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."
Siemens foresees growth
The study follows a prediction by Siemens' head of smart grid division, Middle East, Sitaram Chodimella of a wide-scale rollout of smart grid technology in the Middle East within the next two years.
Mr Chodimella said a number of countries within the Gulf Cooperation Council, an economic and political union of all Persian Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been piloting smart grid projects.