Cutting costs and conserving energy is the biggest source of benefit of smart grids that can help the Kingdom diversify its economy, representatives from consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton disclosed ahead of the Saudi Arabia Smart Grid Conference.
“Smart grids provide an opportunity for the region to modernize its infrastructure and lay the foundations for renewable energy development which can help economic diversification”, said Adham Sleiman, vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton MENA.
Booz Allen Hamilton reps said their participation at the conference is working with the Saudi Electrical Company to form a smart grid program for the Kingdom, among other projects in energy, water, environment, and other sectors.
Saudi Arabia’s utilities landscape is rapidly evolving to accommodate increasing user needs, changing consumption behaviours, and the rise of big data. The demand for electricity has risen by 43% between 2009 and 2014, and is expected to grow 34% by 2020.
Saudi Arabia is prone to cyber threats and needs to adopt the constantly developing prevention methods for a successful smart grid, Sleiman noted among the challenges faced in both the public and private sector.
“Utility companies must remember that smart grid is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” he added. “The smart grid must be tailored to address the specific goals and challenges faced by each organization taking into consideration the resources available,” remarked executive vice president Walid Fayad.
Although ranking one of the lowest in the world, investments in smart grids witnessed an annual growth of 8% in the Middle East worth just below $10 billion.
Opening up new opportunities for renewable energy production and storage is one of the benefits of the smart grid, Sleiman added. They also help cost-cutting, system upgrading and maintenance, and improve customer service to end-consumers.
They also add metering, billing and payment methods, as well as present more accurate information for users and utilities.