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BY Lanny Nickell, Executive VP & COO, Southwest Power Pool

ON June 1, 2020

Originally published in APEx Newsletter Volume XIV – June 2020.

GCCIA: A robust setup for Energy stability and sharing Capacity and Reserve for GCC countries.

In line with the shared vision and goals of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) was established in 2001 to interconnect the national grids of the six GCC countries namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The construction of the super-grid began in late 2005 and the operations commenced in late 2009, with the primary objectives being sharing of installed capacity resources and reserves, providing ancillary services, and creating a power market in the GCC.

During its 11 years of operations, GCCIA 400kV Super-Grid has helped Member States to avoid partial or total blackouts in more than 1950 incidents, and provided economic savings in excess of US$ 2.6 billion for the six Member States, compared to a capital cost of the project of US$ 1.5 billion. The potential economic savings for the next 25 years for the GCC countries is estimated at $30 billion with the establishment of an effective and competitive GCC Power Market.

Having achieved seamless operations in supporting the GCC Member States, GCCIA focus in the past few years has been to develop an efficient regional electricity market in the GCC. GCCIA is mandated by its members to incubate and carry out the function of the power exchange as well as act as a clearing house for financial settlements. Accordingly, in December 2018, GCCIA launched the operations of the GCC Power Exchange (GEMS) for the GCC region starting with day ahead continuous market (DAM) and non-standard markets dealing with in-kind energy transactions between GCC Member States. So far, the electricity trade between the GCC Member States have been bilateral in nature mainly facilitated by GCCIA, and growing in volume by 15-10% each year.

Eng. Ahmed Al-Ebrahim took over as the Chief Executive Officer of GCCIA in 2014 and has been the driving force in development of the electricity market for the GCC region since 2010. GCC power market recorded electricity trade volume of 3.4 TWh during the years 2016 to 2019. A clean energy enthusiast, Eng. Al-Ebrahim advocates for greater penetration of renewable energy for which GCCIA super-grid can provide resiliency, reliability & flexibility services and an electricity market with competitive prices; accordingly working on expansion of the current interconnector capacity as well as interconnecting neighboring countries and regions.