Middle East countries investing heavily in solar power need to develop other forms of renewable energy to avoid massive volatility on the grid, according to the Saudi CEO of GE Renewables in the region.
Major investment in energy storage is also needed to smooth out the huge peaks and troughs of rising renewable power production across the Middle East, the World Economic Forum in Jordan heard.
“The impact that no one is understanding is the impact of a high amount of solar on the grid,” said Manar Al-Moneef, the regional CEO of GE Renewables.
“You’re going to hit the grid with a huge amount of power. But if a cloud comes along — bang, it goes all the way down. That will cause major volatility to the grid. Unless you stabilize that with wind as an example, that will be a problem.”
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are among the biggest investors in solar power in the Middle East while Jordan has also installed wind power. However renewable power planners are struggling with the challenge of storing enough solar power to be used throughout the day and night.
In the UAE as an example, gas currently provides 80 percent of the country’s power needs, but the government is targeting a 50:50 mix between gas and renewables by 2030 — mainly from solar power.
Dana Gas CEO Patrick Allman-Ward said that gas would play an important role in complimenting renewables in the Gulf countries.
“In the UAE, whilst they are bringing down gas in the overall power generation mix, gas will play an important role in addressing that intermittency problem because clearly the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day. So you have to find a way of providing the power that people need to consume 24 hours a day.”