GCC to invest over $300b to meet power demand

DUBAI: To meet an estimated six to 10 per cent annual surge in demand for power, which is around eight gigawatts of additional capacity generation, GCC countries are projected to invest more than $300 billion in some 20 energy projects by 2020, leading energy experts said.With governments in the six-nation GCC stepping up the drive to create new power production and distribution facilities to meet the growing demand, the region is set to witness the launch of a host of mega power projects over the next few years.Energy industry analysts estimate that from the current peak power demand of around 85 gigawatts, consumption in the fast growing GCC region would grow by seven to eight gigawatts annually over the next 15 to 20 years.

According to Prof Waheeb Essa Alnaser, President of the Arab Section of the International Solar Energy Society, the GCC governments have between 14 and 20 mega power projects at various stages of development to meet this demand hike.The UAE, according to the Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation, or Apicorp, will invest around $74 billion during 2011-15. Besides this, the UAE Economy Ministry has estimated that investment opportunities in the market for alternative and sustainable energy projects for the private sector would be around $100 billion until 2020.Qatar, which is set to spend $125 billion in new energy projects, will also the main driver of this ambitious power generation drive in the GCC, according to Epoc Messe Frankfurt, organisers of Light Middle East 2011.

“Saudi Arabia, with a domestic electricity demand which is growing twice as fast as its economy, is not far behind, announcing power projects worth $100 billion. Among other big spenders on creating new energy generating infrastructure in the near future is Kuwait, with plans for investing $27 billion in the pipeline,” said Ahmed Pauwels, chief executive officer of Epoc Messe Frankfurt.Meed estimates that the region requires $130 billion for boosting power generation, transmission and distribution networks over the next few years.The demand for new power capacity remained high across the GCC with both Qatar and Abu Dhabi each having to contend with a rate of 11 per cent followed by Saudi Arabia at 10 per cent, according to Angus Hindley, Research Director at MEED and author of MEED Insight’s GCC Power and Desalination report series.

Demand in Saudi Arabia is to reach 75,000MW by 2019, up from 46,000MW in 2010. Abu Dhabi has revised up its 2020 power demand forecasts by about 6,000MW to 28,000MW in light of the March 2011 announcement by the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for increased investment in the Northern Emirates’ power and desalination sector, the Meed report said.Frost & Sullivan, a leading industry consultant, estimates that the power generation in the region is set to radically change with demand is expected to nearly double in this decade. “With planned regional investments of more than $100 billion [led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Iraq] in power generation, and more than $60 billion towards power transmission and distribution in the next 10 years, the region’s power sector is on the verge of change,” it said in a recent report.

The pan-Arab investment in energy is estimated to surge to $530 billion from $470 billion between 2011 and 2015 in the wake of a robust recovery in global oil demand, Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation, or Apicorp, said.Saudi-based Apicorp, an affiliate of the 10-nation Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, in its annual review of future energy investments by member countries, said Saudi would allocate nearly $130 billion to new energy investment during 2011-2015 to retain its role as the sector’s leader in the region. – Khaleejnews