Smart grids could improve Saudi Arabia’s renewables potential


According to a team of researchers from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM), the transition to smart grids “introduces the potential for revolutionary changes in the present energy management systems” in Saudi Arabia.

A recent article, compiled by a team of six researchers, says that the transition would provide the grid with the functionalities to become a decentralized energy system, while integrating large-scale variable renewable energy sources with enhanced demand-side management.

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Saudi Arabia’s traditional power grid faces challenges such as transmission losses, low efficiency, and limited ability to accommodate renewable energy sources, creating the need for a modernized smart grid.

The researchers said smart grids increase the potential of integrating renewables into the electricity grid by allowing better energy transactions and reliable supply. They claimed that utilities would be better equipped to deal with load-balancing challenges associated with renewable integration. The researchers also said that smart grids could “help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through optimized operational accessibility of grid assets with enhanced reliability, self-healing capability, and resilience incorporated into the grid system, leading to better energy management opportunities.”

They listed a series of other benefits outside of renewables potential, including allowing for better protection against cyberattacks, reducing system losses and energy waste, as well as reducing the need for redundant or new power plants and transmission lines, while also enabling predictive maintenance. But the researchers said the deployment of smart grids must be well organized and meticulously planned.

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“Even though smart grid proves to be a promising technology, a meticulous blueprint is needed to be designed to ensure an advanced projection for initiation, planning, development, and execution for a practical and satisfactory realization,” they said.

They noted that the promotion of smart grid technologies will be needed for consumers to buy into the idea. They recommended regulatory governance to ensure the security and privacy of smart grid technologies. 

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