Posts Tagged ‘clean energy’

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Saudi Arabia’s Electricity Market

February 29, 2012

Jennifer Derstine and Kira West work in the Office of Energy and Environment within the Manufacturing and Services division of the International Trade Administration

Saudi Arabia’s electricity market is growing rapidly, and will provide significant opportunities U.S. exports. Rising incomes and a growing population are driving both increases in electricity consumption and investment in energy-efficient transmission and distribution infrastructure. Additionally, high levels of solar radiation make the Saudi market a potential area of growth for solar energy technology and services.

Saudi Arabian Solar Radiation Station Maintenance

Saudi Arabian Solar Radiation Station Maintenance (Courtesy of DOE/NREL)

Other market drivers include the Saudi government’s goals of reducing reliance on fossil-fuel use for power generation, increasing reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, integrating solar energy generation, and achieving efficiency gains in residential, commercial, and industrial energy consumers. In April, Assistant Secretary Nicole Lamb-Hale will lead a Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia to help U.S. exporters benefit from the opportunities in this growing market.

The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), which is majority owned by the Saudi government, owns the transmission and distribution infrastructure and most generation capacity in Saudi Arabia. In 2007, SEC also opened the market to independent power producers (IPP), offering 20-year power purchase agreements for power generation projects. The Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Agency (ECRA), one of three government entities that oversees the electricity sector, has long-term plans to deregulate the electricity market, separating generation, transmission, and distribution networks and introducing private competition.

SEC’s transmission and distribution network has seen considerable investment over the last decade, with SEC expanding the network by more than 50 percent since 2000. SEC also invested in energy efficiency technology, deploying 12,000 electric meters equipped with automated reading and variable rate systems in 2010.

However, the Saudi electric grid suffers from above average transmission losses, so investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure and energy efficiency technologies will remain high. Investment in the distribution system in Saudi Arabia is predicted to reach $24 billion over the next decade, and SEC has plans to further expand the transmission network within the country and to create new interconnections between GCC states.  U.S. exporters will see a wide range of opportunities in green building, smart grid, and energy efficiency technologies.

In order to support its goals of reducing oil and gas power generation, the Saudi government is also prioritizing solar energy deployment. Saudi Arabia has sufficient solar resources to meet a large portion of its growing electricity demand, and the Saudi government envisions both PV and CSP solar technologies will play a role in solar development. U.S. companies will find opportunities in this sector in consulting and engineering services for design, construction and management, as well as supplying solar technology and equipment.

More detailed information about the Saudi electricity market and opportunities for U.S. exporters is available in the Market Intelligence Brief.

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Discussion Panel at the White House Clean Energy Forum

July 16, 2010

Courtney Gregoire is Director, National Export Initiative.

Today, I moderated a panel at the White House Clean Energy Forum on “International Leadership, Competitiveness, and Exports” featuring three industry leaders: Bruce Sohn, President of First Solar; Mary Ann Wright, Vice President of Global Technology and Innovation Accelerator for Johnson Controls; and Steve Bolze, the President and CEO of GE Power and Water.

With approximately 100 clean energy business and thought leaders, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke kicked off the forum with his words:  “The development of clean energy and energy efficient technologies could spur the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”

A spirited conversation ensued as panelists and audience members alike commented that the key to expanding clean energy exports is increasing domestic demand for clean energy, and that starts with enacting comprehensive energy legislation.   Others commented on the significant clean energy investments made by other countries from China to Brazil to Germany.  Competing in this globally competitive marketplace, as one audience member put it, requires a call for the “revolutionary, not evolutionary.”

ITA is attempting to rise to that challenge by developing a strategy to double renewable energy and energy efficiency exports in the next five years as part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

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