Naggar: new centre latest in technology

Naggar: new centre latest in technology

Grid control centre extends Alstom role

Grids are becoming increasingly complex and require upscale technology which Alstom has been able to provide

May 2014

Alstom Grid, one of the world leaders in high voltage transmission systems and equipment, recently commissioned the new main control centre for the Gulf Cooperation Council International Authority (GCCIA) power grid network in Damman.

The new centre replaces the old control centre in Guhnan which is now a back-up control centre. The GCCIA project is the Gulf’s first energy highway connecting the power grids of six Gulf member states through a 1.2 GW high-performance High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) connection.

The GCCIA is an organisation formed in July 2001 to create an integrated and sustainable energy economy amongst the GCC states. The new centre supervises the operation of the transmission grid interconnecting Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. It guarantees the efficiency and safety of the power grid and enables the recording and billing of energy transactions between the different countries. The centre enables operations on all interconnection substations of the GCCIA.

“We have been associated with the authority since it was created. We also did the Guhnan centre. With the construction of the new headquarters, the GCCIA wanted to put a main control centre in the new building and use the old one as a backup,” said Jihad Arabi, regional managing director, Near and Middle East, automation/ network management solutions, Alstom. 

“The new centre has all the necessary systems to manage the whole network.  It also has something called the wide area monitoring system to ensure stability and reliability of the network,” he said.

Karim El Naggar, vice-president, network management solutions, Alstom, said: “We are very excited about this centre as it extends our presence in the region. Historically we have a strong presence in the Middle East and are currently managing 65 per cent of the energy flow in the Gulf.

Alstom Grid has been present in Saudi Arabia for more than three decades. Alstom delivered the first electrical substations in the Hail region in the 1980s.

The GCCIA project was a challenge as while Saudi Arabia runs its electricity transmission network at 380 kV, 60 Hz the other five countries use 400 kV, 50 Hz. Based on the asynchronous nature of the states to be interconnected, the best solution was to add an HVDC interconnection.

This 1800 MW HVDC station is the interconnection point between Saudi Arabia and other five Gulf states’ network.

One of the main functions of HVDC is to constantly look for the occurrence of power generation loss in the interconnected networks. When loss is detected, the HVDC link injects power into the system and, through the use of frequency control, restores the system to normal conditions.

“The GCCIA project brings together all the latest in technology. We have the latest generation of Scada control systems and, in addition to that, we are bringing online stability solutions,” said Naggar.

The project is also indicative of the trends we are seeing in the region for higher technology. We are witnessing greater and greater demand for advanced solutions. The GCCIA is connected to the other countries through control centres in each of the countries and most of these control centres have been provided by Alstom.

“Today Alstom is a leader in control centres. The industry is becoming very R&D intensive from the suppliers’ point of view. We have been able to sustain a high level of R& D investments over the last four to five years largely because of our success in the market,” said Naggar.

“The grids today are becoming more and more complex, not because the suppliers like them to be complex but the way electricity is consumed and produced today. Our role here is to support our customers and help in maintaining supply security and network stability. For that we need more real-time solutions. There is a need for more and more investments to keep up to the requirements. That is where we are able to support our customers while others are finding it difficult,” he added.

Earlier this year Alstom opened its first Smart Grid Centre in the Middle East in Dubai. The move is a major step in its long-term commitment to providing sustainable electricity infrastructure to the UAE and the region.

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