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Smart Grid: The Road to Success for GCC Countries

Countries of the GCC are making big strides towards deploying smart grids. Sia Partners analyses the potential challenges and presents actionable solutions to ensure smooth implementation in the Gulf

The current electricity grid was designed several decades ago, around centralized electricity power plants, to manage the one-way flow of energy from the generation facilities to the consumer and to fulfil basic electricity needs. In the last few years, the overall system is facing several challenges on both the generation side as well as the demand side.


In this regard, the smart grid is considered one of the prime solutions. A smart grid is a digital layer over the electricity network system, which aids in monitoring and controlling electricity flows all the way from generation sites, including decentralized units; to end users and data flow in both directions. This allows the grid to optimize asset utilization and system reliability, while minimizing financial and environmental costs.


Smart grids and related technologies allow all stakeholders, including consumers, to reap significant benefits; but implementing such systems is a complicated and expensive task, requiring the cooperation of numerous market players and government bodies. There is no one-size-fits-all, and every region or country must develop its own version of smart grid solutions in its own context. This is illustrated in the differences of smart grid approaches and results of the various developed countries in the world, as shown in the benchmarking of deployment approaches in the first part of this study.


This has strong implications for the development of smart grids in the GCC – each gulf country will have to choose its own path for developing, testing, regulating, implementing, and operating smart grid technologies. The specific situation, planning, and challenges of each of the GCC countries have been described in the next section of the article.


In the concluding section, the specific future challenges for each country are highlighted and discussed briefly. A simplified model of end-to-end smart grid adoption is provided, which can be elaborated and customized for each country. This model has been developed through the benchmark study of smart grids in developed countries, and encompasses all approaches taken.


Specific actions to be taken by each GCC country to overcome their challenges are also listed, keeping in mind both the individual challenges and goals of the country, as well as the general smart grid development model of very industrialized countries.


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