Utilities Middle East


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Government policies and incentives to adopt electric vehicles are predicted to significan­tly drive market growth in the coming years with countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

leading the way

In recent months, the Middle East has stepped up its push for Electric Vehicles as part of its broader efforts by countries in the region to decarbonis­e their economies.

Government policies and incentives to

30 adopt EVs are predicted to significan­tly drive market growth in the coming years with countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leading the way.

The UAE is making huge strides in the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and its charging station to vehicle ratio is among the world’s highest, according to the Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) MENA.

Last month, The Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched a trial run of two Volvo 7900 electric buses that will

shuttle on a specific path in both directions between La Mer South, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Street and Al Sufouh Tram Station.

RTA said the two buses are fitted with the novel opportunit­y charging technology, which is being experiment­ed with in Dubai for the first time and supplied by ABB Group.

Opportunit­y charging describes the case when buses are not only recharged at the depot but also at charging stations throughout the network. In this case, buses don’t have to drive back to the depot to recharge.

The UAE had also announced that 200 Telsa EVs would be introduced into the Dubai Taxi industry. This was the first step in Dubai’s plan to promote green mobility solutions, linked to the government’s ambitions to reach a quota of 25% of trips made by selfdrive vehicles by 2030.

Dubai’s two-part strategy relies heavily on the EV charging infrastruc­ture, investing in building hundreds of charging stations around the city as well as providing financial incentives to EV drivers, with free charging and parking fees until the end of 2022.

The neighbouri­ng city of Sharjah has also made its contributi­on to electrific­ation by introducin­g 50 semi-electric Tesla trucks back in 2020 to add to its waste management fleet.

Like Dubai, it offers free charging to EV owners until 2025 and continues to construct charging points throughout its main city.

The Saudi Arabian Standards Organizati­on (SASO) has plans to issue regulation for the use of EVs and has announced that 5% of its parking spaces are to be designated solely for the use of EVs. This move is part of Saudi efforts to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and conserve its energy resources.

EVs offer significan­t potential for reducing pollution, improving the environmen­t, and also creating new industries.

However, the region will need a network of electric charging stations large enough to cater to the growing number of EVs and their drivers.

Solar rooftop panels are being installed across the Middle East including electric vehicle charging stations. With the abundant supply of sunlight, the solar energy market is an appealing investment

The Middle-East electric vehicle market is expected to register significan­t growth over the coming years, according to a report by Mordor Intelligen­ce.

Although oil constitute­s a major source of national revenue and domestic fuel of several Middle Eastern countries, the respective government­s are focusing on renewable energy and clean transporta­tion technologi­es and the implementa­tion of economic and energy diversific­ation plans.

The Middle-East and African electric vehicle market was valued at $35mn in 2020, and it is expected to reach $84mn by 2026, registerin­g a CAGR of over 15% during the forecast period (2021 - 2026), according to Mordor Intelligen­ce.

Despite the recent effects of Covid-19, the market is expected to witness substantia­l growth owing to the swiftly escalating Y-o-Y adoption rate of electric vehicles across the region.

The growing focus of the government­s across the region to promote the use of electric vehicles and increased awareness about energy storage solutions in the renewable-based power sector is expected to drive the market during the forecast period.

However, the existing EV infrastruc­ture is not perceived as sufficient and many companies may install their own charging stations to tackle this issue.


Furthermor­e, most companies plan to make their charging stations available for public use, in addition to being used for internal needs

This effort by the private sector could support the UAE in strengthen­ing its EV infrastruc­ture.


While new models are coming to the market and prices are going down with time, compared to previous years, one of the barriers to entry is the purchase price of EVs, which are set to change in the near future with economies of scale and advances in battery technologi­es.

But as adoption of electric vehicles

32 increases, utilities and other power generators will grapple with the issue of determinin­g the power load needed to charge those vehicles, and how to forecast when—and where—that electricit­y will be needed, according to industry analysts.

“EV sales continue to increase, but with EV adoption varying by region, the challenges to the power grid remain at the local distributi­on level,” says Harmeet Singh, chief technology officer of Greenlots, a California­based EV charging software and solutions company that is part of Shell Group. “The need for grid upgrades will vary by region and depend on the existing grid capacity and utilizatio­n rate of EV growth.”

The only certainty about the increased electrific­ation of transporta­tion is that power generators need to be prepared, and grid operators must assess whether their systems are ready.

“We are confident that EVs will prove to be a net benefit to the power grid,” says Singh. “Utilities will use EVs to manage demand, integrate renewable energy sources, and maintain the stability of the grid.”

One solution, experts say, is for utilities to get more creative about juggling exactly when electric vehicles charge their batteries, so that they don’t all power up at the exact same time and overload electrical equipment or require the constructi­on of costly new power plants.

Some electricit­y providers are already moving in this direction.

EV adoption also could spur needed infrastruc­ture upgrades. “There needs to be a new mindset, bold solutions, and even a sense of urgency around creating nextgenera­tion transmissi­on infrastruc­ture to keep pace with the growth of EVs and the other emerging demands of society,” says Singh.

EVs could require between 525 TWh and 860 TWh of electricit­y globally in 2030, up from 80 TWh last year, according to the Internatio­nal Energy Agency.

While that would equal just a small share of global electricit­y consumptio­n — including an estimated 2% to 5% in the U.S. — EVs could require more than three times the power currently consumed by California, the world’s fifth-largest economy.

“The infrastruc­ture indicators for this market have lagged,” John DeBoer, head of engineerin­g giant Siemens AG’s eMobility Solutions and Future Grid Business in North America, said in an interview. “Back in 2010, there was this chicken-or-egg thing that got talked about all the time: Would the vehicle come first, or would the charger? And in the U.S., there was no question how that answer played out. The vehicles came, they grew ... and the infrastruc­ture wasn’t built.”

Siemens recently announced its intention to produce more than 1 million EV chargers in the next four years for U.S. homes and businesses, building on the roughly 75,000 chargers the company has supplied over the past decade.

Siemens based its decision to ramp up production partly on the $1 trillion infrastruc­ture bill awaiting a vote in the House of Representa­tives. The measure

would authorize $7.5 billion for alternativ­e fuel corridors and to construct a nationwide network of EV charging stations.

Industry players are actively accelerati­ng the speed of automotive technology innovation as they develop new concepts of electric, connected, autonomous, and shared mobility.

The industry has attracted more than $400bn in investment­s over the last decade— with about $100bn of that coming since the beginning of 2020.

All this money targets companies and start-ups working on electrifyi­ng mobility, connecting vehicles, and autonomous driving technology. Such technology innovation­s will help reduce EV costs and make electric shared mobility a real alternativ­e to owning a car.

Electrific­ation will play an important role in the transforma­tion of the mobility industry and presents major opportunit­ies in all vehicle segments, although the pace and extent of change will differ.

To ensure the fast, widespread adoption of electric mobility, launching new EVs in the market has been an important first step. In addition, the entire mobility ecosystem must work to make the transforma­tion successful, from EV manufactur­ers and suppliers to financers, dealers, energy providers, and charging station operators—to name only a few.

Based on announced buildup plans, a 20-fold increase in battery production capacity in Europe alone is expected to reach 965 GWh by 2030. Assuming the full capacity is built by 2030, Europe should meet expected demand of 874 GWh.

BEV passenger cars and commercial vehicles will drive 90 percent of this battery demand. While on paper announced capacities seem to follow and match demand, in reality temporary implementa­tion risks will likely occur given giga-factory production issues, typically slow yield rampups, fragmentat­ion of the supply chain, and large inflexible OEM contracts.

Thus, in an accelerate­d EV adoption case, battery demand would come very close to exceeding announced supply in the medium term.


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