What’s in store for the future of UAE’s smart power grids?
A smart grid storage technology refers to an electricity supply network that uses digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in usage.
A recent report called ‘MENA Power Industry Outlook’ by Ventures Onsite, for Middle East Electricity event showed the GCC could save up to $10 billion in infrastructural investment in the coming year through the use of smart grids.
It places the value of the GCC smart grid market at $1.68 billion by 2026 as regional governments step up their deployment of smart grid infrastructure amid increased demand for energy storage systems.
The global Smart Grid Market will surpass $70 Billion by 2024, with its communication & wireless infrastructure predicted to grow at 20% annually from 2019 to 2024, according to Market Watch.
Is the UAE at the forefront?
A recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) revealed that record investments in solar power in the UAE—and in Saudi Arabia—has made solar power cost competitive with fossil-fueled power plants, OilPrice.com reports.
The UAE built nearly 80% of the installed solar power capacity of the GCC and plans to draw 27% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2021, and up to 40% by 2050, mostly by solar but in parallel with energy storage grows.
DEWA inaugurated a new Smart Grid Station (SGS) where real-time monitoring and control of several renewable energy sources including solar and wind power, will manage peak loads and increase efficiency in power and water distribution and consumption.
The SGS comprises a 200-kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic solar power production system; a 9-kilowatt (kW) wind turbine; and a 500-kilowatt hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery energy storage system.
Abu Dhabi to the power 10
Sodium sulfur (NAS) batteries produced by Japan’s NGK Insulators are placed into use on a massive scale in Abu Dhabi, Energy Storage News reported.
Emirates News Agency described the project as the “world’s largest Virtual Battery Plant” because the battery systems have been deployed across 10 locations – 15 systems in total – and can be controlled as a single plant.
The system is adding up to 108MW / 648MWh in total, with each system able to store energy for six hours.
The project will help the city load balance across its networks during the daytime, as well as providing up to six hours backup in the case of grid outages, while reducing the strain on the grid at peak demand hours.
While many grid-scale battery projects around the world are currently being executed with lithium-ion batteries, in this instance, the use of sodium sulfur, allowing for six hours of storage, is “mandatory for thermal generation investment deferral”, the NGK spokesman said, with the peak demand period being shifted itself lasting around six hours.
A NGK representative said that the six hours of storage in each sodium sulfur battery cell reduces total system cost versus lithium batteries.
NAS battery systems are also less sensitive to external temperature conditions. There is no need for air-conditioning to keep cells at the right operating temperature and unlike lithium batteries, NAS batteries are insulated and operate at about 300 degrees centigrade.