Arab News reports that electricity use in Saudi Arabia is growing at a rate of 8% per year. While new power generation plants are being built and the Kingdom is looking at nuclear power to meet the rising demand, there’s much that can be done on the consumer level to lower usage. The government has recently set up an Energy Efficiency Center to look into the matter.
Electricity is cheap in the KSA; it is heavily subsidized. According to reports in 2010, the cost of generating electricity was SR 0.372/kWh, but the price, on average, is only SR 0.135/kWh (US$0.04/kWh, compared to US rates ranging from $0.12-$0.50/kWh). Things that are ‘free’, or close to it, aren’t valued by consumers. Wasting it doesn’t seem like much of a big deal, so it is wasted.
Requiring that air conditioning machinery, for example, be high-efficiency equipment could certainly help – air conditioning is the largest user of domestic electricity. Requiring the use of double-glazing of windows or the use of thermal glass, at least in new construction, would also reduce demand. Traditional construction methods, with thick walls to provide insulation, were developed to reduce the transmission of heat. They were more efficient than newer construction methods, but had notable flaws like the expense of building and maintaining them. Using better materials for traditional methodology might be worth examining, too.
Power demand to grow by 8%
RIYADH: A major challenge faced by the Kingdom’s electricity sector is that the demand for power in the country is growing at the rate of 8 percent annually, the highest in the world, according to the President of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) Muhammad Al-Suwayyil.
He added that the challenge would be tackled with the help of the newly established Saudi Energy Efficiency Center. “The center will help the government’s efforts to rationalize power consumption by increasing efficiency of consumption and consolidating efforts of related departments,” Al-Suwayyil said while opening an international workshop on Kingdom’s energy efficiency and energy policies at the KASCT on Monday.