Muscat, Oman, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia --- (METERING.COM) --- April 6, 2010

Oman’s Electricity Holding Company, which is empowered with the strategic direction of the country’s four distribution companies, is working with PA Consulting on an AMI feasibility study, which is due for release in the next couple of months.

It is expected that the Muscat Electricity Distribution Company will roll out a pilot AMI project towards the end of 2010.

If Oman is similar to the U.A.E., where smart metering has been talked about for many years and which is still for the most part in the pilot stage (Abu Dhabi leads the way with plans for 200,000 smart meters to be installed), then it could still be several years before widespread AMI is seen in the Sultanate. Nevertheless, there is a strong case for smart metering and other grid technologies to help Oman realise energy efficiency. The Sultanate is facing energy demand rises of 10 to 12 percent a year, with much of it to allow for a peak energy use that exists for only a few weeks in the year.

ADWEA working on feed-in tariff

The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) is working on an implementation strategy for a feed-in tariff that will enable the emergence of on-grid solar power projects.

Currently, despite possessing an almost ideal climate for solar energy production and a robust enough grid to handle distributed energy, solar power is virtually non-existent except for off-grid specialist micro-projects.

Although there has been no formal announcement, many people close to ADWEA expect something to be introduced sometime in the next six months to a year. That announcement would eliminate the major barrier to the uptake in distributed generation by making the installation of renewable energy sources economically viable.

Saudi Arabia to power all of Europe cleanly by 2050?

Ali Al Naimi, Saudia Arabia’s oil minister, has declared that one day the Kingdom would be the world’s leading exporter of solar energy rather than oil.

Such hyperbole is not uncommon in the Gulf States where a highly competitive brinkmanship exists to create the world’s first and best, be it a carbon neutral city or 10-star hotel. Nevertheless, despite the timescale, the years of secretive consultancy and pilot projects, past experience has shown that when Saudi Arabia decides to do something, it does it big.

And grand schemes don’t come much bigger than DESERTEC – a concept/foundation with serious backing that has the goal of providing enough solar power to supply the whole of the Europe and the MENA region by 2050. The resources to achieve this – sun, space that no one is using for any other purpose, money, and will – are in plentiful supply in Saudi Arabia. On the transmission and distribution side, this would involve the creation of a supergrid connecting the EU with the sun-belt countries via high voltage direct current transmission lines (see Smart grid key to powering Europe and North Africa exclusively by renewables by 2050).

While it may be easy to dismiss an announcement of this scale, the quality of the partners signed on to the project is world-class: Siemens, ABB, E.On, Munich Re, Deutsche Bank, among others. And given the considerable resources and ambition of the Kingdom, DESERTEC is certainly worth keeping an eye on.