Official: Saudi Arabia needs to spend $213bn on water, power

Plans for Saudi-Egypt electricity grid progress amid rising investment requirements

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The blueprint of a project to link Saudi Arabia and Egypt with an electric power grid is in its final stages and the project may be offered for bidding by early next year, an official has said, as the kingdom’s investment in power and water is expected to rise to SR800 billion ($213.3 billion) over the next 10 years.

“The electricity link between the two countries may be realized in the next three years after the start of the execution work,” said Saleh Al-Awaji, Saudi Arabia’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Water and Electricity.

Al-Awaji was talking to the media after opening the “Electricity and Energy Exhibition” here on Tuesday. The exhibition, jointly organized by the Dhahran International Exhibitions Company and the Saudi National Electricity Company, will end on Thursday.

“The project to link the two countries with electric grid has been based on thorough studies,” he said.

Al-Awaji said the peak of the need for power in the Kingdom is usually between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. while in Egypt it is between 6-10 p.m. “Therefore the Kingdom can import electricity from Egypt during the day time and re-export it in the evening,” he said.

The official also said the need for power in the Kingdom drops in winter while in Egypt it maintains the same levels throughout the year. “Hence there is an opportunity for the Kingdom to export electricity to Egypt in winter,” he added.

Al-Awaji noted that the Kingdom has electric links with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries while Egypt is linked with eight eastern Arab countries. “The two groups can benefit from the grid link between the Kingdom and Egypt thus creating an active market to exchange energy between the countries of the region,” the official said.

Al-Awaji said the sector of water and electricity in the Kingdom is growing fast and added that investment in this sector may rise to more than SR800 billion during the next 10 years.

“The contribution of the private sector in these investments may be more than 30 percent. Investors will, therefore, have ample opportunities for investments,” he said.

Al-Awaji revealed that studies were currently being conducted to establish four new power generating companies. “The studies are also considering the participation of the local and foreign private sector in the ownership of these companies,” he added.

He said the government is very serious in its endeavor to exploit the renewable and the nuclear energy. “A team of specialists is currently working out the modalities of this move under the umbrella of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy,” he said.

The undersecretary assured all subscribers that there would be no power cuts this summer. “We are well prepared for the summer season,” he said asking people to rationalize their water and electricity consumption.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 14, 2014

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