Evaluating scenarios of capacity expansion given high seasonal variability of electricity demand: the case of Saudi Arabia

Proceedings of the 31st International Conference of the System Dynamics Society
08 Mar 2013

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has experienced rapid growth in peak load and electricity consumption over the past decade. Under current demographic and economic trends, peak load is projected to nearly triple by 2032, which will require massive new investments in both conventional and alternative generation capacity. A unique aspect of KSA is that the electric load nearly doubles in the summertime, which means that high penetration of renewables and nuclear in the future will need to be supplemented by flexible, dispatchable technologies. This paper breaks down the load curve into different categories based on utilization, and then develops a technology-specific capacity expansion model to meet projected growth in these categories, net of future renewable or nuclear capacity additions. This higher-granularity approach is novel in System Dynamics, where previous work has used aggregated measures of demand and grid capacity. The paper evaluates different scenarios of demand growth, renewable and nuclear deployments, and conventional capacity plans across various economic and environmental metrics. Key tradeoffs are discussed to inform policy development, as are limitations.

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