Saudi Arabia turns to solar

Said office tower haven't had individual light switches in it - saving electricity would be much cheaper than making it. Hard to do, w/o liberating power market - what's a point to save if its ~free?

Solar makes a lot of sense for Middle East as peak power consumption matches production (lesser "duck curve" issue) but dust issue needs to be addressed.

http://qsaudi.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Kingdom-Dust-storm.jpg

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13 hours ago, DanilKa said:

Said office tower haven't had individual light switches in it - saving electricity would be much cheaper than making it. Hard to do, w/o liberating power market - what's a point to save if its ~free?

Solar makes a lot of sense for Middle East as peak power consumption matches production (lesser "duck curve" issue) but dust issue needs to be addressed.

http://qsaudi.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Kingdom-Dust-storm.jpg

Did you work for Aramco?

That was my experience on day one when I was leaving the small office I worked in

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5 hours ago, NickW said:

Did you work for Aramco?

That was my experience on day one when I was leaving the small office I worked in

Not for them but I had my office at the EXPEC building. So many wastage in power, gas, water, labor - in my humble view only way to fix it would be to let market force decide fair price. This would require total change of the society, likely incompatible with monarchy. Although democracies aren't any better at it.

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The Saudis have a lengthy track record of promising to do solar, and very few materialize.

As other before me have stated, they need to conserve first and that will only happen if they start charging market rates for electricity.

 

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17 hours ago, DanilKa said:

Not for them but I had my office at the EXPEC building. So many wastage in power, gas, water, labor - in my humble view only way to fix it would be to let market force decide fair price. This would require total change of the society, likely incompatible with monarchy. Although democracies aren't any better at it.

I remember seeing buildings going up around Dammam - single skin block 150-200mm thick and no insulation. I was saying what liabilities are you guys building for the future. 

Democracies are massively better at it than Saudi Arabia. 

 

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On 6/19/2018 at 1:30 AM, DanilKa said:

Said office tower haven't had individual light switches in it - saving electricity would be much cheaper than making it. Hard to do, w/o liberating power market - what's a point to save if its ~free?

Solar makes a lot of sense for Middle East as peak power consumption matches production (lesser "duck curve" issue) but dust issue needs to be addressed.

http://qsaudi.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Kingdom-Dust-storm.jpg

The duck curve can be adressed at least on the middle east with the thermal storage trough molten salts, if you can heat FLiNaK to 1400 Kelvin then you have around 1.2MWh of power per m3. A 12000M3 high temperature storage tank isn't that crazy

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Or there is the Nuclear option, and making the Red Sea Dam

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There will probably be large, utility scale solar in Saudi, and yes, it will be messy. It's cheaper to add than the alternatives, gets good press, and they'd rather sell oil than use it for desalinization and electricity productions. I wouldn't expect the scale suggested in the SoftBank MOU, but solar will happen. If for no other reason so many private entities are utilizing diesel for production, and supplementing that with diesel with cut back diesel subsidies is sound business.

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7 hours ago, NickW said:

I remember seeing buildings going up around Dammam - single skin block 150-200mm thick and no insulation. I was saying what liabilities are you guys building for the future. 

Democracies are massively better at it than Saudi Arabia. 

 

Not my experience - our villa was very well insulated; quite a contrast with “Queenslander” - traditionally build house on stilts with “natural ventilation”. 

I’d say democracy has nothing to do with building practices - all goes to insensitives. Although true democratic regimes have less reasons to give out electricity for ~free (populists still do, though). 

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9 hours ago, John Foote said:

There will probably be large, utility scale solar in Saudi, and yes, it will be messy. It's cheaper to add than the alternatives, gets good press, and they'd rather sell oil than use it for desalinization and electricity productions. I wouldn't expect the scale suggested in the SoftBank MOU, but solar will happen. If for no other reason so many private entities are utilizing diesel for production, and supplementing that with diesel with cut back diesel subsidies is sound business.

Surely it makes more sense to use the electricity to displace oil from electricity production which can then be exported. KSA has the infrastructure to export oil. To export electricity to large markets (Europe) it would need to build lengthy HVDC lines through some pretty unstable territory. 

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8 hours ago, DanilKa said:

Not my experience - our villa was very well insulated; quite a contrast with “Queenslander” - traditionally build house on stilts with “natural ventilation”. 

I’d say democracy has nothing to do with building practices - all goes to insensitives. Although true democratic regimes have less reasons to give out electricity for ~free (populists still do, though). 

The Villas will have been build for the expat market.

Democracy creates a transparency to freely critic policies on aspects of building design that concern energy conservation. No such transparency exists in dictatorships - especially ones like KSA. 

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12 hours ago, Sebastian Meana said:

The duck curve can be adressed at least on the middle east with the thermal storage trough molten salts, if you can heat FLiNaK to 1400 Kelvin then you have around 1.2MWh of power per m3. A 12000M3 high temperature storage tank isn't that crazy

Most of the night time demand for electricity is for Air Con. This could effectively be stored in insulated containers full of ice generated in the daytime. 

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Is Saudi still burning raw crude in some of their power plants during the Summer to generate electricity?

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49 minutes ago, Refman said:

Is Saudi still burning raw crude in some of their power plants during the Summer to generate electricity?

it seems to be the case...

 

Electricity is mainly used for cooling, desalination, industrial, and domestic needs in Saudi Arabia. Natural gas, diesel oil, crude oil, and heavy fuel oil are used for electricity generation in the Kingdom. More than 70% of Saudi’s electricity is consumed for air conditioning and cooling, and the summer demand is about twice the winter demand. Today, 65% of world’s electricity is produced by steam turbine generators by burning fossil fuels, whereas 100% of Saudi’s electricity is generated from fossil energy sources. Electricity & Cogeneration Regulatory Authority (ECRA) regulates the electricity and water desalination industry in Saudi Arabia. The country has 30 desalination plants and drinking water demand increases year after year. More than 60% of the water consumed in households is provided from desalinated sea water, and the rest comes from the groundwater aquifers. Desalinated water consumption increases approximately 14% per year. Desalination is a very costly process and is not sustainable. The consumption of energy is nearly 20% of total energy consumption in Saudi Arabia. Cost analysis, especially electricity and water sectors to focus on, indicates the need to encourage the optimum use of fossil fuels. Against the possibility of increasing oil prices and using of energy diversity requirement, Saudi Arabia must generate electricity from coal and renewable energy sources in the long term. Another remedy is the use of diversifying the power mix of renewable energy and nuclear energy. The use of coal in electricity production will result in environmental concerns. In situ, with underground gas formed by burning coal generated electricity by running a gas turbine. The electricity losses may occur during the transmission and distribution from generators to consumers.

 

Source :

The cost analysis of electric power generation in Saudi Arabia (Ayhan Demirbas, Ayman A. Hashem & Ahmed A. Bakhsh - 2017)

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15567249.2016.1248874?journalCode=uesb20

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70% goes to A/C and cooling, that is staggering. As we've talked about before I'll bet half of that is waste from folks keeping thermostats at 65F because electricity is cheap.

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(edited)

Insulation and efficiency is driven by building codes and economics. Because the cost of electricity to the consumer was historically very low, no incentives for insulation and conservation. Prices to consumers have gone up dramatically as part of MBS’s reforms. Will they become a mssive exporter of electricity by 2030 thru solar, I doubt it. Will they add large ultility scale solar, the economics almost demand it. And yes, they do keep many places down to 15C, and it’s not only over 40c, it’s also humid quite often on the west coast, and for. Couple of months on the east. Add in a growing population and expanded industrial activity, huge power and desalination requirements. 

Edited by John Foote
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This part of the story is typical of the nonsense that pervades solar issues..

"The push for more renewable energy is part of a broad strategy led by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince to wean the economy off oil exports and create meaningful jobs for the hundreds of thousands of young people entering the workforce each year."

The government is going to build a huge renewable power plant in order to give people jobs, apparently without realising all the problems that the plant would create. The plant, if and when it is ever built, will dump 200 GW of power into the local grid for a few hours around noon, tampering off to nothing through the night.

That's a lot of power to be taken in at one time. It would also have to be matched with conventional generators which can be switched off during the day and then switched on at night. Diesel? An excrement-tonne of batteries? I don't think that pumped hydro is an option in Saudi Arabia. Exporting the stuff? Electricity is different from oil in that if you want to export it, you are basically limited to the neighbouring countries, pending some hugely expensive high-tech solution such as direct current long distance transmission lines, and those countries will have their own job-creating solar projects, and no love for the Saudis. If they do overcome all these problems, and I'm just scratching the surface here, what about all the Saudis now employed in quite serviceable conventional generators, put out of work by the green revolution? These stories are just weird. 

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9 hours ago, markslawson said:

This part of the story is typical of the nonsense that pervades solar issues..

"The push for more renewable energy is part of a broad strategy led by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince to wean the economy off oil exports and create meaningful jobs for the hundreds of thousands of young people entering the workforce each year."

The government is going to build a huge renewable power plant in order to give people jobs, apparently without realising all the problems that the plant would create. The plant, if and when it is ever built, will dump 200 GW of power into the local grid for a few hours around noon , tampering off to nothing through the night.

That's a lot of power to be taken in at one time. It would also have to be matched with conventional generators which can be switched off during the day and then switched on at night. Diesel? An excrement-tonne of batteries? I don't think that pumped hydro is an option in Saudi Arabia. Exporting the stuff? Electricity is different from oil in that if you want to export it, you are basically limited to the neighbouring countries, pending some hugely expensive high-tech solution such as direct current long distance transmission lines, and those countries will have their own job-creating solar projects, and no love for the Saudis. If they do overcome all these problems, and I'm just scratching the surface here, what about all the Saudis now employed in quite serviceable conventional generators, put out of work by the green revolution? These stories are just weird. 

1. Orientate the panels in a mix of East, South East, South, South West, and West directions and you will get a much more evened out production throughout the day. Or install the panels on trackers (will increase costs though) . Solar thermal systems can shift some of that output into the evening. Molten salt heat storage solar plant can generate 24/7. 

2. A significant proportion of night time electricity demand is for air conditioning. Cold (or heat) is much more straight forward to store than electricity. Get the population using LED lighting and virtually all the night time demand is for air con. 

3. There are other storage mediums being looked at which include using salt water pumped hydro in the western mountains. Compressed air in salt caverns. Compressed air in the Red Sea a possibility. Another option is using regenerative rail to store power high up in the mountains. A train with 50,000 tonnes of Iron ore at several hundred meters is a lot of potential energy on tap. These days easy to automate. 

4. Agree - export of electricity in any significant quantity is fanciful. The purpose of solar is to free up oil for export and reduce demand on constrain NG production. Most of the work on solar farms  is relatively low tech so assuming the employers can get the employees out of bed it would provide a lot of work for low education Saudis. 

5. Conventional generation doesn't employee many Saudis. Saudi Arabia is actually short of gas which is why it burns upward of 500,000 bpd of oil (great for pollution on the East Coast - makes a lovely sight from the Helicopter). It could of course buy gas from Qatar but politics get in the way here (they are currently proposing to build a canal to turn Qatar into an Island.....). 

 

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NickW - look, sure, I don't disagree with any of this .. well, one.. "Molten salt heat storage solar plant can generate 24/7." The can but its far from reliable. As for the rest, sure, if you do these other really expensive things with still largely unproven technology then demand can be matched with supply.  A liquid air plant for storing energy has been commissioned near Manchester in the UK (Highview Power if you want to look it up) which I think is more promising and closer to the market than any of the stuff you mentioned, and probably the cheapest option for Saudi, but its still massively expensive and on a pilot scale. This is the problem, and one you don't see in the original story, which was my point. The solar panels by themselves are of little use. They have to be paired with these really expensive means of storage or with complete reworking of the network (the LEDs you mention). As for the jobs part, electricity generation should not be a job creation project. More jobs = more expense which consumers or taxpayers have to pay. Fewer jobs = less expense. These points are almost entirely lost in any discussion  on renewables. Instead we get weird stories about dumping 200 GW of energy on the local grid and its all going to be alright.  

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22 hours ago, markslawson said:

NickW - look, sure, I don't disagree with any of this .. well, one.. "Molten salt heat storage solar plant can generate 24/7." The can but its far from reliable. As for the rest, sure, if you do these other really expensive things with still largely unproven technology then demand can be matched with supply.  A liquid air plant for storing energy has been commissioned near Manchester in the UK (Highview Power if you want to look it up) which I think is more promising and closer to the market than any of the stuff you mentioned, and probably the cheapest option for Saudi, but its still massively expensive and on a pilot scale. This is the problem, and one you don't see in the original story, which was my point. The solar panels by themselves are of little use. They have to be paired with these really expensive means of storage or with complete reworking of the network (the LEDs you mention). As for the jobs part, electricity generation should not be a job creation project. More jobs = more expense which consumers or taxpayers have to pay. Fewer jobs = less expense. These points are almost entirely lost in any discussion  on renewables. Instead we get weird stories about dumping 200 GW of energy on the local grid and its all going to be alright.  

Some points. 

1. In KSA (I lived there for 2 years) solar tracks demand very nicely so much of that power will be consumed at the point of production so the solar panels are of lots of use. KSA's main issue is burning oil because it doesn't have enough gas - solar will directly conserve oil (for export). 

SABIC produces lots of Ammonia (from Natural Gas) - why not use that surplus daytime solar to make Ammonia and save Natural Gas to run CCGT at night. KSA is a centrally controlled  economy so easier to do in such places. 

2. There is no need for any interseasonal storage. Basically need to shift some surplus power from the day to the evening/ to a lesser extent the night. This is where the CCGT plant, Pump storage, Rail regen, and compressed air kicks in. 

3. I am not sure that the liquid air plant is particularly efficient but the Pumped storage has been around for 130 years with system efficiencies of 85%. regenerative rail as a concept has been in operation for around 60 years. 

4. I don't see how buying LED's is an expensive rework of the system. You simply replace existing lighting as it wears out (Incandescent, Halogen, Flourescent - to LED's). A typical LED lightbulb that draws 11-13w (replace a 100w incandescent) costs 4-6 pounds. 

5. If sanity prevailed in KSA their first approach would be driving efficiency as the waste of energy there is beyond comprehension. If they did this the long term need to generate so much from Solar would diminish. 

6. Pilot Regenerative rail scheme.

https://www.wired.com/2016/05/forget-elons-batteries-fix-grid-rock-filled-train-hill/

If you want to build a full scale system all the rolling stock is available off the shelf. Saudi Arabia has plenty of Iron Ore to fill them wagons and plenty of Iron to cast the rails. Its also got plenty of bone dry mountains along the entire western coast to run the tracks. 

A key issue for KSA is generating employment - this would and serve far more purpose than building a frickin  Moat  to isolate Qatar 

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NickW - I can see you're an optimist. This part.. "If you want to build a full scale system all the rolling stock is available off the shelf. Saudi Arabia has plenty of Iron Ore to fill them wagons and plenty of Iron to cast the rails. Its also got plenty of bone dry mountains along the entire western coast to run the tracks."

Bwwwhahahahah! NickW, mate, you're talking about a multibillion dollar project. Remember "bone dry mountains", so no local labor force right. The first step would be to build the camps to house the work force. Engineers would want to lay the tracks properly, and then there's the question of  transmission lines out to remote areas and the machinery required to convert the different forms of energy, and I'm just scratching the surface here.  Mind you, the Saudis have done some dumb stuff with oil money over the years so it's possible they may waste their money on such a project, but they obviously don't need to save oil. I dunno if you've been keeping up with the oil news but OPEC no longer controls the oil market, thanks to the fracking boom.

As for the rest of the stuff, I never doubted any of it was possible. The key question remains at what cost, particularly given we're are not talking about pilot plants but about installations on a scale that would make a difference, and that the original story said nothing about any of it - so my point still stands. Thanks for the discussion but it's time to finish up. Leave it with you.

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18 hours ago, markslawson said:

NickW - I can see you're an optimist. This part.. "If you want to build a full scale system all the rolling stock is available off the shelf. Saudi Arabia has plenty of Iron Ore to fill them wagons and plenty of Iron to cast the rails. Its also got plenty of bone dry mountains along the entire western coast to run the tracks."

Bwwwhahahahah! NickW, mate, you're talking about a multibillion dollar project (SAUDI Sovereign Wealth Fund - $500bn) . Remember "bone dry mountains", so no local labor force right (Jeddah -  4 million, Yanbu - 250,000, Taif -1.3 million, Mecca - 1.7 Million, Medina 1.2 million, Khamis - 500,000) . The first step would be to build the camps to house the work force (Saudi has 7 million expat workers - this will continue for some time). Engineers would want to lay the tracks properly (Railways are not exactly new tech - we have been doing it for over 200 years) , and then there's the question of  transmission lines (they are called overhead lines or electrified rail)out to remote areas and the machinery required (there is a lot of that in Saudi from 70 years of being the largest oil exporter on the planet - if they can build pipelines from Shaybah to Abqaiq and across the entire country 100km of rail track shouldn't be an insurmountable challenge) ) to convert the different forms of energy (why not just use the track, and I'm just scratching the surface here.  Mind you, the Saudis have done some dumb stuff with oil money over the years so it's possible they may waste their money on such a project, but they obviously don't need to save oil. I dunno if you've been keeping up with the oil news but OPEC no longer controls the oil market, thanks to the fracking boom. Completely irrelevant observation - this is about Saudi preserving its oil for export which is basically the only thing it can export in any quantity to pay for things like food. 

As for the rest of the stuff, I never doubted any of it was possible. The key question remains at what cost, particularly given we're are not talking about pilot plants but about installations on a scale that would make a difference, and that the original story said nothing about any of it - so my point still stands. Thanks for the discussion but it's time to finish up. Leave it with you.

Fact insertion in bold ^^

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On 6/24/2018 at 1:49 AM, markslawson said:

NickW - I can see you're an optimist. This part.. "If you want to build a full scale system all the rolling stock is available off the shelf. Saudi Arabia has plenty of Iron Ore to fill them wagons and plenty of Iron to cast the rails. Its also got plenty of bone dry mountains along the entire western coast to run the tracks."

Bwwwhahahahah! NickW, mate, you're talking about a multibillion dollar project. Remember "bone dry mountains", so no local labor force right. The first step would be to build the camps to house the work force. Engineers would want to lay the tracks properly, and then there's the question of  transmission lines out to remote areas and the machinery required to convert the different forms of energy, and I'm just scratching the surface here.  Mind you, the Saudis have done some dumb stuff with oil money over the years so it's possible they may waste their money on such a project, but they obviously don't need to save oil. I dunno if you've been keeping up with the oil news but OPEC no longer controls the oil market, thanks to the fracking boom.

As for the rest of the stuff, I never doubted any of it was possible. The key question remains at what cost, particularly given we're are not talking about pilot plants but about installations on a scale that would make a difference, and that the original story said nothing about any of it - so my point still stands. Thanks for the discussion but it's time to finish up. Leave it with you.

In response to your comment about my 'storage fantasies' on the other thread I thought it would be more appropriate to answer here, particularly in view of your apparent lack of any appreciation of the situation KSA is in. 

KSA (CIA world fact book - 2015)

1. Consumes approx 3.2 millipn BPD of Oil / Oil products of which upward of 500,000 is burnt in power facilities as it is short of gas.

2. Gas Production is approx 102 bn m3 which is all consumed locally

3 Electricity consumption is 300 TWH

Issues

Oil / Oil products are its only tangible export and for which pays for things like food which it produces very little of. Burning 500,000 BPD for electricity is an export loss of approx $12bn a year

When I was there 2010 -2012 there was a quiet panic in exploration as they weren't finding any significant oil and only moderate amounts of gas. I understand from former colleagues this position hasn't changed since then. 

KSA is running out of  'fossil water.' They are prolific users and also piddled much of their resources on growing wheat in the 80/90's when they could have bought up the EU grain mountains instead. That water is irreplaceable effectively - it was accumulated when KSA had a much wetter climate. Demand for desalinated water is growing rapidly. In 2012 I was taking samples from fresh water wells which were at 10,000ppm of salt (Sea water is 37000). 

It has a major youth unemployment issue - there is a significant social need to generate jobs that can be filled by Saudis as an alternative to joining Al Qaeda etc....

In regard to the oil and water issues a sane first line approach would be a major conservation program which coincidentally would also generate some employment however sanity and Saudi policy are rarely in the same boat

How does the 200GW of solar help to address these issues?

200 GW of solar will generate about 360 TWH of electricity. This is far too much to offload onto the grid and there are no real export markets but that doesn't mean it has to be wasted. 

How can this day time surplus be used?

1. Convert to Hydrogen and blend into Natural gas supply. This can be done up to about 10% of calorific value without modifying the system. That uses up approximately 130 TWH to generate 10 bn m3 equivalent of Natural gas (thats your nigh time storage issue solved) 

2. 13 TWH would cover desalination for all of Saudi Arabian domestic household needs

3. 13 TWH for other industrial use Desalination

4. Produce Ammonia- this can be used as fertiliser, for emissions control to remove sulphur and make Ammonium Sulphate fertiliser plus numerous other uses. It can even be used instead of diesel in diesel engines with some modification. 5 mt annual production would soak up approx 60 TWH

5. Use some more traditional and novel storage methods - Pumped Storage, Batteries, Rail cars up mountains, compressed air. 

So that leaves approx 144 TWH of daytime solar which in Saudi Arabia is extremely predictable. Your night time CCGT / OCGT plant is there  to help balance the grid and as a day time backup in the rare event that solar production is subdued for a day or two. 

Now apart from Desalination all the above is basically Victorian era tech. 

The problems outlined are very real. Now rather than witter about the cost perhaps you can offer some alternative approaches? 

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