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Surge control is the new challenge in the Middle East, says GlobalData

Published: 5 March 2020 - Carly Wills

Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) recently announced that it was preparing to inaugurate the 800MW third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (MBRM) solar park.

Richard Thompson, editorial director at data and analytics company, GlobalData, offers his view: “One of the most significant areas of growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region over the past decade has been the development of renewable energy production capacity, particularly solar power.

“Blessed with high levels of solar irradiation, an abundance of available land and investment capital, as well as a desire to optimise the economic benefits of their hydrocarbons reserves, governments have prioritised renewable energy.

“Led by Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, world-scale solar plants are emerging. Wind farms, hydroelectric plants and waste-to-energy schemes are adding to the supply, while nuclear power and even coal-fired plants are introducing alternative fuels to the mix.

“However, as capacity increases, new challenges are emerging. Foremost among these is the challenge of integrating the intermittent and variable power supply that comes from renewables with grids designed around thermal power generation plants. Additional challenges include the region’s fragmented power networks and the many authorities that exist.

“None of these challenges weaken the case for renewables, but they present certain technical and regulatory obstacles for governments and investors.

“The solutions rest in holistic planning by governments to enable the incremental development of grids to ensure stability and the coordination of water and power supply policies.

“The problem, however, is that the development of renewables capacity is far exceeding the pace of policy reform. If governments do not move quickly to prepare the path for renewables integration, they could soon find their clean energy ambitions hit a wall.”

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