The electricity sector is one of the most sophisticated and growing sectors in the world; so it was important that there is interest in the electrical linking and open channels of cooperation to ensure and meet the states ‘s requirements of this vital sector and the face of increasing energy consumption.
And calls of experts and officials have been launched to increase cooperation in the field of electrical connection between the Arab countries, allowing the creation of an integrated, harmonious Arab electricity market and connecting electricity systems, which includes in its membership 19 Arab countries, and will become a major focus in the Arab electricity connection noting that the project provides billions of dollars of investments needed to build infrastructure of stations and the center to provide energy to meet the requirements.
Experts consider this link as a road map of the Arab Union for Electricity and an opportunity to share experiences and strategies of energy and achieve the vision that would enable the Arab world in the long term from greater diversification of the sources of its energy , by supporting technological development in the field of electricity generation and renewable energy sources available in these countries. And the development of ties in the field of electricity and development in terms of production, transportation and distribution, and the face of the challenges posed by the energy that Arab countries face .
The cooperation in this sector is essential to take advantage of the possible aspects of integration and conversion of all available cooperation opportunities in the Arab world to the real projects of mutual benefit .
The World Bank believes that the electrical connection among the Middle East countries to each other, and between the Middle East and the countries of southern Europe, it will save billions of dollars that needed by those markets to pump it in the electricity sector.
According to a study prepared by the bank, the Middle East and North Africa witness the enormous pressure and unprecedented on the prescriptive infrastructure networks in the light of the dramatic increase in electricity needs.
It is estimated that the demand for electricity in the region will increase by 84% in 2020, which would require an increase of 135 gigawatts and investments worth $ 450 billion, but the regional electricity interconnection between countries in the region, reducing the need for additional capacity to generate electrical energy from 135 gigawatts to 102 gigawatts , which means a dramatic decline in the value of the required investment .
The bank said that the total electrical connection will be completed technically in the region by 2018 at most, Once to complete the establishment of the station of the connection between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with capacity of 3 thousand MW.
The bank says that the current trade exchange in electricity field among the Arab countries is extremely limited, where it is less than 2% of the region’s capacity, according to estimates, this means that the Arab region is the least integrated in the world.
The study showed that there are several reasons for the limited trade exchange in electricity field among the Arab countries, including: the weakness of investment in the field of electric power generation in the region amid ongoing political turmoil in the major countries, which has led to the massive delays in the construction of new plants and create new equipment for the transfer of electricity, and there are identical patterns in daily and seasonal use of energy in many countries of the region, working to reduce the potential of trade exchange .
And although the interface cooperation at the regional level between the countries in the region was limited to some extent, it is, according to the bank, there is an opportunity to increase cooperation between the countries of Europe and the region.
According to the study of the bank, the past few years have witnessed a recession in Europe which has led to the reduction of the demand for electricity significantly, especially in Italy, and the program of Italy achieved to increase their capacity for the renewable power generation a great success, since it is anticipated that this program meets the target for the European Union of 20 % of the electricity production through renewable energy in 2020, before the deadline by several years, and the renewable energy projects have worked , that have emerged in the past few years with the decline in demand due to the economic recession , to transform Italy into a country with a surplus of electricity supply for the first time in its history after the war projects .
On the other hand, the Bank believes that there are aspects of the integration existed in all parts of the region with strong potential for the existence of a regional market for electricity across regions, especially among the GCC countries.
The Gulf electricity connection project between the GCC has become one of the giant projects not only in the Middle East but in the world, with an estimated investment in the project by more than 11.25 billion riyals funded through electrical networks by 35% while the other 65 per cent financed by the private sector
And the bank states that « the benefits could exceed of stable supplies of energy , necessary, to push the locomotive of the economic growth and development »
World Bank officials within the Arab World Initiative, which has already been launched by the International Finance Corporation say they are working on the implementation of the third part of a comprehensive study of the Arab electricity linkage and evaluate the possibility of using natural gas to export electricity.
Experts say that the Arab electricity linkage project contributes to closer political relations between the Arab countries and dissolving differences, and achieve economic targets such as a reduction of the needed investments to meet the loads required for each system separately , thus reducing operating costs and take advantage of the production costs for access to lower cost through the use of units of production that are less expensive, considering to achieve electrical connection will be a real nucleus for the establishment of the Arab market for energy in a full sense.
The Arab states today are in front of great challenges, including energy and so there is a need for a concerted and coordinated efforts to meet the requirements of electricity for their countries, as the electrical connection is the best solutions for the exchange of experiences and unifying vision, and provides outstanding results for inter-Arab relations notably to encourage and attract Arab investments to the Arab world that contributes to the face the requirements of massive population growth of the energy and to facilitate the transmission of electricity from Arab country to another one and identify the obstacles they face and how to overcome them.
Rawabet Research and Strategic Studies Center