Spanish Energy Giant Iberdrola to Electrify the Middle East

The company, with a 10 million euro research and development center in Qatar is expanding its clean energy business in the Middle East.

According to the head of innovation and sustainability Agustin Delgado, the Spanish utility is seeking to be an early mover in a region that’s investing more in solar and wind power. The company will concentrate on technologies that incorporate renewable energy onto the grid, digitalize networks and boost the efficiency of energy.

Delgado said that the Middle East is a region with a lot of opportunity in the energy sector, and not only in gas and oil. He said that they want to electrify the economy, from heating and cooling to electric vehicles.

Although the Persian Gulf countries are known for being exporters of energy, rising power consumption at homes has increasingly become a significant economic factor. Abundant hydrocarbon reserves and local subsidies discouraged utilities from adapting more efficient technologies, until recently. About a million barrels of oil a day is still being burned by Saudi Arabia for power and potable water.

Ambitious renewable energy programs are challenging the reliance on fossil fuel for electricity. To try to conserve more fossil fuels to sell, Saudi Arabia is pledging $50 billion over the next nine years. Other countries in the region are building utility-scale clean energy projects, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Delgado said that adding large amounts of intermittent renewable energy such as wind and solar can create the instability of the grid, creating the need for technologies such as digital solutions and energy storage. According to him, the company has installed 13 million smart meters around the world to date, and is seeking to apply this experience to the Middle East.

He said that there are huge opportunities to improve how to consume energy and reduce bills, just in Qatar. He added that they think they can reduce them by 30%, which would be $2 billion each year.

Iberdrola is a Bilbao-based Spanish public multinational electricity utility company with subsidiaries in the US, Brazil and Scotland. One of company’s largest shareholders is Qatar Investment Holding.

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