Texas A&M University at Qatar launched the Smart Grid Center extension in Qatar (SGC-Q) at an event for local industry and stakeholders 12 November 2014.

The Smart Grid Center extension in Qatar enables making smart grid a reality in Qatar and worldwide. Electric energy is key to every economy and for societal prosperity across the globe. The smart grid effort aims to transform this critical infrastructure using computer-based remote control and automation. The smart grid integrates electricity and information and communication infrastructures to produce electricity more efficiently and reliably, as well as cleanly and safely for the environment.

Dean and CEO at Texas A&M at Qatar, Dr Mark H Weichold, said:

Texas A&M at Qatar is happy to celebrate another milestone with the launch of the Smart Grid Center. As a part of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, the Smart Grid Center works toward the goal of transforming the electrical grid infrastructure to meet the demands of the 21st century, and the centre’s interdisciplinary team will work to make smart grid a reality in Qatar, as well as worldwide. This centre is a part of Texas A&M at Qatar’s efforts to meet the pressing challenges of Qatar’s growth and development by providing research, facilities and expertise available nowhere else in the region. We are grateful to our industry partners in Qatar and to our Texas A&M colleagues in College Station, Texas, for their invaluable support.’

The centre strives to become a reference point and a key player in the field of smart grid in the community and in the region, working toward ensuring energy security. The centre trains engineering students and professionals in electric energy-related concepts and technologies in Qatar and helps with technology transfer in Qatar to benefit the economy. It will help integrate electricity and information and communication infrastructures to produce electricity more efficiently and reliably, as well as cleanly and safely for the environment. The Smart Grid Center is working to solve pressing energy issues while meeting the needs of future generations.

Texas A&M University, recognised as having one of the premier engineering programs in the world, has offered undergraduate degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical and petroleum engineering at Qatar Foundation’s Education City campus since 2003, and graduate courses in chemical engineering since fall 2011. More than 500 engineers have graduated from Texas A&M at Qatar since 2007. All four of the engineering programmes offered at Texas A&M at Qatar are accredited by ABET.

HE Engineer Essa bin Hilal Al Kuwari, president of Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (KAHRAMAA) attended the event at Texas A&M at Qatar Engineering building. Also, it was attended by a number of experts, faculty, students and governmental dignitaries. Al Kuwari, said that the establishment of such specialised focused centre is aligned with Qatar National Vision 2030 and a step ahead in implementing KAHRAMAA’s vision and strategy. He said:

The centre will work to incorporate all efforts related to the field to build a platform for the smart infrastructure not only in the electricity grids but also for water, telecommunication and transportation as well.’

The centre is very much aligned with the part related to performance, technological innovation and environmental sustainability in KAHRAMAA’s mission statement, he added.

Executive director of Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), Dr Mohammad Khaleel, said:

The Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute performs research and technology development in solar energy, energy storage and smart grid. QEERI will work with Texas A&M University at Qatar in close partnership with KAHRAMAA to develop solutions for a smart grid in Qatar by enabling reliable, resilient cost effective, efficient and flexible integration of solar energy with the grid and providing solutions for off-grid farms.’

KAHRAMAA has already joined hands with one of the world’s leading utilities in  the smart grid field (Iberdrola, the Spanish utility) as a pilot project to analyse KAHRAMAA’s network and study the opportunity in applying smart grid. Apart from this, KAHRAMAA and Qatar University has signed MoUs to establish scientific and academic cooperation in the area of energy efficiency, in which QU will provide expertise to improve KAHRAMAA’s energy efficiency systems in terms of power generation, transmission and distribution. In addition, KAHRAMAA has also recently inked an MOU with the Korea Smart Grid Institute to exchange experiences and knowledge in the smart grids.

The event also featured a detailed presentation on the centre by Dr Haitham Abu-Rub, managing director of the centre and chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar. Abu-Rub said the smart grid is a way of handling energy independence, global warming and security of supply. The Smart Grid Center will help facilitating Qatar with the latest technology developments in smart electric power distribution grids, efficient use of electric energy and modernisation of the electricity grid; generate new knowledge and develop exemplary engineers and leaders by conducting advanced researches, disseminating results, and organising conferences and workshops; promote collaboration and creation of multidisciplinary research teams to investigate smart grid problems, and deliver more innovative and effective smart grid solutions; serve the needs of Qatar and the region through broad expertise, training and education.

The establishment of this centre is in line with KAHRAMAA’s strategy and with QNV 2030 vision. The centre will be the nucleus to lead, direct and coordinate the research, development and innovation needed for smart Grid promotion and implementation within Qatar and the GCC region.