ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has stressed its commitment to developing and expanding the power generation and transmission network across the GCC. Speaking at the eighth regional conference for Arab Cigre Committee (GCC Power) in Qatar's capital, ABB Qatar's country manager Johan de Villiers outlined the importance of the regional energy sector to the economic development of the GCC.
"There's no doubting that the region's energy grids are among the most developed in the world in terms of infrastructure. However, with the current demand being placed on them by industry as well as consumers, GCC utility providers must ensure that they continue investing to develop national grids and additional capacity."
ABB will be focusing on issues relating to energy optimization as well as solutions to lower the utility sector's environmental impact. Technical experts from the world's largest electrical engineering company will be presenting papers on protection requirements for substation automation requirements and FACTS for improved efficiency and flexibility in power systems.
As one of the leading suppliers of power solutions to the Gulf, ABB has played a significant role in working with utilities to develop their energy grids. ABB was the lead supplier for the Gulf Interconnection Grid. Upon completion in 2011, this mega-sized pooling of electricity resources will interconnect the power grids of the six Gulf states – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman – and enable them to use their electricity resources more efficiently.
The interconnection will also enable the six states to establish an energy trading market and in the long term link up with Europe and North Africa to form a ring of interconnected power grids around the Mediterranean.
ABB has played a key role throughout phase 1 of the project, which was completed in late 2009 at a cost of around $1.2 billion and is by far the largest of the interconnection's three phases. Six state-of-the-art ABB transmission substations with gas-insulated switchgear – three in Saudi Arabia and one each in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar - enable the power to be delivered reliably and safely at 400 kilovolts (kV) to the power systems of all four countries.
"There is a long term energy strategy behind the investments of the Gulf's governments. They understand that infrastructure is nothing without a reliable source of power, and they're investing accordingly. Despite the challenging economic conditions authorities must not take their eye off the ball and continue to invest in both power production and power transmission. A lack of power is in nobody's interests," added de Villiers.
GCC Power 2010 is owned by GCC Cigre, the GCC regional committee for large electricity systems. Established as a non-profit organization in 1985 by a resolution of Their Excellencies the GCC Ministers of Electricity & Water, GCC Cigre is mainly devoted to encourage the exchange of information and expertise in the field of electricity systems through conferences, seminars and research.