Elia Grid International in the Middle East

Staff from Elia Grid International (EGI) meet with staff from the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) in 2021. From left to right: Faisal Alhumaidan (Business Development - Middle East, EGI); Abdurrahim Al Harbi (Executive Director of Engineering in SEC-PDC); Markus Berger (Chief Infrastructure Officer, Elia); Didier Wiot (CEO of EGI); Frederic Van Cauteren (Head of Business Development, EGI); Anis Souissi (Regional Manager, EGI); Ahmed Ibrahim (CEO of GCCIA); Dr. Nasser Shahrani (COO of GCCIA). 

Elia Group is a leading European utility company which is driving the energy transition both in Europe and abroad. It comprises two transmission system operators - Elia in Belgium and 50Hertz in Germany - and a consultancy, Elia Grid International (EGI). The latter works with partners across the globe, including clients in the Middle East, providing them with expertise and services related to international energy markets and power system projects. Elia is one of the key sponsors of the Belgian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, which was officially opened in October last year.

How long has Elia Group been working the Middle East for?

Elia Group has been collaborating with partners in the Middle East via EGI since 2009. EGI has worked on a number of projects in the region, addressing challenges linked to the integration of renewable energy and nuclear power into energy systems and the transformation of operational policies and regulatory frameworks. At the moment, EGI is keen to expand its activities in the region; for example, it is focusing on supporting the United Arab Emirates with developing and deploying the infrastructure it needs to take on the energy transition, in line with its Energy Strategy 2050. EGI has sound expertise in building cross-border interconnectors and connections to offshore renewable sources.

How are partnerships such as those Elia Group has established with companies in the Middle East important for the energy transition?

Partnerships of all kinds are going to be key for ensuring that countries can decarbonise. The energy transition not only requires them, but is creating clear opportunities for these to emerge - from sector coupling on a smaller scale through to regional and international partnerships covering the building of interconnectors, energy islands and the sharing of renewable energy across borders.

Elia Group has solid experience in and knowledge of working with a range of external partners. Elia, its transmission system operator in Belgium, has established a number of partnerships which aim to facilitate the achievement of net zero; currently, for example, Elia is working with BESIX, a Belgian construction company, to support the development of buildings which are both energy efficient and energy smart. Moreover, Elia Group is collaborating with Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the Malaysian electric utility company, to exchange best practice about facilitating decarbonisation. It has also partnered with Octopus Energy Group, from the UK, to develop consumer-centric energy services which will provide energy grids with much-needed flexibility.

What additional expertise do Elia Group and EGI have to offer its partners and clients?

Elia Group has built up a wide range of proficiency, skills and know-how in a range of areas over the years. The structure of the Group is such that the experience it has gained through its regulated activities can be easily shared and disseminated via EGI, and vice versa.

The portfolio of projects undertaken as part of Elia and 50Hertz’s regulated activities in Belgium and Germany includes some truly innovative projects, such as the world’s first hybrid interconnector (the Kriegers Flak Combined Grid Solution), and they are working on exciting opportunities such as the development of energy islands in the North and Baltic Seas. The Group also regularly publishes vision notes, studies and reports aimed at supporting policymakers as they shape energy policy; this includes recent publications such as its ‘Consumer-Centric Market Design’, ‘Roadmap to net zero’ and ‘Fit for 55’ papers.