Digital can power ahead Qatar's renewable energy vision

24 November 2020 4 min. read

Qatar is set for an accelerated shift to renewable energy, according to a new study by Roland Berger, which in turn will have a “dramatic and lasting impact” on Qatar's energy system.

The study found that Qatar's energy and water consumption has grown continuously over the past decades, driven by a higher number of people living and working in the country, growing industrial and service sectors, and generally higher per capita consumption. 

“Today, the average annual electricity consumption per capita is about 16,000kWh, and the daily water consumption is about 625 liters. Both figures are among the highest in the world and are significantly higher than in other GCC countries,” explained Fabian Engels, a senior partner at Roland Berger

Digital can power ahead Qatar's renewable energy vision

To meet growing demand, Qatar is investing heavily in its energy system. But at the same time, the government is pushing citizens and businesses to embrace a more sustainable approach to scarce resources such as energy and water. Already in 2012 the Kahramaa, established in 2000 to regulate and maintain the supply of electricity and water for the Qatari population, launched the Tarsheed initiative to raise public awareness of energy efficiency and savings. 

Qatar's National Development Strategy until 2022 outlines the target of realising an average 8% reduction in electricity consumption and a 15% reduction in water consumption per capita, alongside a widescale shift to more renewable energy sources (the installation of 800MW of new renewable energy capacity).

“We expect an accelerated technology shift in power and water production, from gas-based power generation to renewable energies, such as photovoltaics (PV) and wind-power. In addition, energy efficiency efforts will increase in order to save electricity and water,” said Engels.

A holistic approach

Jörg Klasen, a principal at Roland Berger added, “This energy transition in the country will affect the entire system and require comprehensive approaches and holistic process thinking.”

It will for instance require the system to be equipped to deal with fluctuating renewable energies into the transmission and distribution grids. Klasen: “Newly-built PV and wind capacities will increase the fluctuating loads in the grids and additional measures will be necessary to stabilise the frequency in the system. To a certain extent, this will be handled by existing conventional power plants, limited possibilities for demand side management, such as in district cooling, or additionally installed battery storage systems.” 

“But all these countermeasures will have to be orchestrated, and responsible managers will need transparency about grid loads and frequency in order to decide on short-term operational and long-term strategic measures.”

Technology the enabler

This is where technology comes into play, says Roland Berger. Digitisation has the potential to revolutionise the way how energy is generated, distributed, stored and consumed. Examples of use cases in Qatar include intelligent energy consumption, remote monitoring and grid management or power prediction for renewable energies, according to Klasen. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) can for instance help in remote monitoring and grid management. “Data from IoT devices connected in a network can be used to extend real-time monitoring and active grid management in the transmission and distribution systems,” he said.

Meanwhile, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence can power deeper data-driven insights, which in turn can be used to shape decision-making. Blockchain holds the key for building a more transparent and secure system, cloud-based working can significantly enhance efficiency and effectiveness, and robotic process automation can streamline processes for customers, suppliers and internal functions.

Successfully bringing digital transformation to play will require a “strategic, implementation-oriented approach,” said Engels. “This approach considers future supply and demand growth scenarios, builds on a deep understanding of energy systems and applied technologies, and incorporates extensive experience with successfully implemented digital solutions globally.”