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Energy

Introduction

KACST plays a leading role in the energy sector, focusing on research and development in the field of electric energy generation and its associated systems.

Introduction

Saudi Arabia is going through a period of population growth and development in various industrial and service sectors leading to a growing demand for energy and its resources. KACST has been actively participating in research and development in the field of power generation, storage and optimal utilization, through the Water and Energy Research Institute. The institute has a group of Saudi specialists and many research laboratories with advanced equipment, all of which has played a major role in providing high value products to meet the growing national energy needs.

Solar energy is one of the most important sources of alternative energy. This has led the Water and Energy Research Institute to conduct many research projects to find innovative technological solutions to produce solar energy with high economic efficiency. The institute’s work also contributes to the optimal utilization of energy resources and to protecting the environment from the consequences of energy use, by developing renewable energy storage technologies, providing energy solutions for remote areas and improving energy technologies to meet the harsh environmental conditions in the Kingdom. The institute also conducts research in the areas of combustion and engines, plasma applications, fuel cells and batteries, and automotive technology. In addition, the institute conducts research in electrical power systems focusing on alternative sources, power conversion and control systems. Further work is done on power electronics which represent the basic tool for advanced electrical measurements, improving voltage stability, increasing the power factor and providing remote control. This leads to the enhancement of traditional and smart electrical networks.

Another pillar of the institute’s work is the research and development of refrigeration and air conditioning systems by improving the basic components of air conditioners in order to increase the efficiency of the electrical energy consumption of these devices.

Projects

This lab is one of KACST labs accredited by the ISO/IEC 17025 for lab testing and calibration.

The lab is the first of its kind in the MENA region and is capable of testing photovoltaic (PV) panels under IEC standards. It was accredited by the Gulf Accreditation Center (GAC) at the beginning of 2017 for ISO/IEC 17025, in order to be recognized by stakeholders in the Gulf countries.

The lab is coordinating with the Saudi Standards, Quality and Metrology Organization (SASO), to be recognized as a national lab in order to participate in safety and efficiency tests for PV products entering the Saudi Market.

It also coordinates with KACST’s Conformity and Certification Body to publish the “National Regulation for Photovoltaic Product Qualifications”, on national solar energy projects.

The lab introduces testing services for government and private sectors projects in PV systems, to assure they can operate safely and efficiently, without external environmental effects degrading power production over time.

High efficiency multi-junction GaAs based solar cells are utilized in concentrator photovoltaic module systems. Higher efficiency can be obtained by changing the effective band gaps of the three junctions, but the choices of materials and approaches to achieving so are very limited.

To overcome this challenge, dilute nitride material has been developed to obtain the desired band gaps to obtain over 40% efficiency.

The unique advantage of the dilute nitrides is that the bandgap and lattice constant can be tuned independently, allowing bulk material lattice matched to Germanium or GaAs over a wide range of bandgaps.

Commercial Solar Junction concentrator cells with efficiencies of 43.5% have been achieved as a result of higher output open circuit voltage, which keeps system-level resistive wiring losses in check.

The team of this project aim to extend the advantages of these cells by introducing new structures where the band gaps are controlled according to the geographical location where the CPV system is to be installed.

KACST has been working on developing Concentrated Photovoltaic technologies (CPV) since the late 1970’s. This led to manufacturing and installing the world’s first Ultra High Concentrated Photovoltaic system (UHCPV) with a concentration ratio of 1600 suns. The system consists of primary lenses made of poly (methyl methacrylate) with an efficiency of 97%, high efficiency multi-junction solar cells that can reach 44.2%, and passive cooling systems that lead to achieve module efficiency of 33%. Through this project, many UHCPV systems have been installed and monitored in the last six years in different locations in Saudi Arabia as well as in New York and Denver. The team working on this project was granted over 18 patents and successfully published a large number of scientific papers.

In 2010, KACST built the first semi-automated solar PV modules line in the Kingdom, with an annual capacity of 14 Mw. This line has been given the ISO 9001 Quality Management System certification. The PV modules product has also achieved accreditation according to the international standards IEC 61215 and IEC 61730.

In 2016, KACST expanded the production capacity and became fully automated, reaching 100 Mw annual production capacity, with the latest automatic technology used in the world in order to produce high quality solar panels.

A Saudi qualified and experienced team is operating this line and maintains it to a high quality level.

The factory is producing PV modules such as MONO and Ploy Crestline cell with different power outputs. Moreover, the factory is producing the back contact PV modules (MWT) which are a new and promising technologies that are suitable for high-temperature environmental conditions.

The objective of this project is to synthesize wholly synthetic macrocycles that are robust, thermally stable, redox-active and exhibit semiconducting properties. Accordingly, it can be hypothesized that a wide-variety of parameters affect the performance of the organic macrocycles in energy harvesting devices which include (i) rigidity / flexibility of the redox-active units, (ii) distance between the redox-active units, (iii) geometry, (iv) chirality of the centers with redox-active unit and/or (v) the energy match between various identical or non-identical redox-active units that are present in the macrocycle. Despite continued efforts, the exact structure−performance relationship for efficient charge mobilities remains elusive.

To this end, the team of this project aim to synthesize various redox-active isosceles triangles which contain two classes of redox-active units within their triangular macrocycles. In the quest to advance our understanding of how the molecular composition of various classes of non-identical redox-active PMDI, NDI and PDI units within the isosceles triangles affects the properties associated with (i) the through-space electron sharing, (ii) the solid-state packing and (iii) the energy harvesting properties, two chiral isosceles triangles were designed and synthesized (−)-2PMDI-1PDI-Δ and (−)-2NDI-1PDI-Δ.

The new technology being developed in this project is based on the highly pi-conjugated perylenediimide subunits which have strong absorption in the visible region. This absorption can be easily adjusted by substituting the PDI units with various electron rich or poor components. The incorporated PDI subunits are known to exhibit strong fluorescence in solution but not in the solid-state because of the aggregation-induced quenching effect. However, by incorporating in a triangular macrocyclic geometry, we show here that we can achieve remarkable solid-state fluorescence where the quantum yields are close to unity. Finally, the structure-performance relationships of devices fabricated using this series of diimide-based molecular triangles will be investigated. The previous technologies developed were based on the redox-active pyromellitic or naphthalene diimide subunits which are neither easy to reduce nor absorb the visible light necessary for high efficient organic photovoltaic devices.

This is a collaboration project between KACST and Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), for the installation of a 16MVAr Static Var Compensation (SVC) system for voltage regulation at an area called Alhassah, 350 km from Riyadh, and another 3MVAr 12-Pulse configuration SVC system at an area called Durma, 100 km from Riyadh. These areas suffer from consistent under voltage and frequent deep voltage events particularly in the summer time. The project started in 2011 and the two installed systems showed remarkable improvements in the local voltage profiles. More than 10,000 customers are served in these two areas.

The SVC technology is advanced and only a few companies around the world can build such systems at the medium voltage level. Electricity service providers, industrial plants, load centres and other similar customers particularly in remote areas, are usually in need of such technologies. The fact that these systems are designed and built by a national team contributes significantly to the local content enhancement.

This project is conducted under the KACST-SEC Joint Research and Development Centre for the Distribution Sector, which is located at KACST. It aims to use the data collected from smart meters installed by SEC in order to branch out several applications, different from the default ones, that can improve grid reliability, efficiency, enhance the operational economy, and at the same time accommodate all commercial opportunities that these smart meters bring.

This research project proposes a solid data framework that has tools and techniques for smart meter data collection and analysis. The framework uses data from smart meters, after being pre-processed, to execute applications particularly designed to enhance distribution grid economic operation, improve system design, and unlock business opportunities for SEC.

Work on this project started in 1438 H (2017 G), and several field visits have been conducted to the locations of some smart meters. Data from smart meters is currently available at the center’s lab, where different application tools are used to analyze it.

The project aims to design power quality devices for precise electrical measurements that are compliant with international standards. The devices are used to assess the quality of the electrical power system by analyzing the electrical inputs to calculate quality indicators. In addition, the devices are synchronized with time in order for the analyzer to investigate the incidents and their propagation accurately. They capture the voltage events (sags/ swells, and interruptions) which are then used to assess the service and measure its quality. These devices also can measure temperature, wind speed and the intensity of solar radiation and other measurements that are needed in the electricity industry. A number of devices have been installed in different locations in the national electricity grid for field testing and they are working very successfully. These devices are designed and manufactured at KACST and their hardware and software structures can be developed further to perform other functions.

Smart Grid technologies include advanced metering, communication, control, and automation. These are all essential for advancing Saudi’s current electrical power system. One of the important advancement areas is the accommodation of renewable energy resources, especially at the electrical distribution network. The development of Smart Grid technologies requires building local human capabilities and advanced laboratories through collaborative efforts between research and industry.

This project is part of the collaboration between KACST and the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) under the Joint Research and Development Center for the Distribution Sector. Under this project, an advanced Smart Grid technologies laboratory has been built at KACST campus. This lab is used for the development and testing of new technologies to solve technical problems that face SEC in operating and maintaining the electrical distribution network. Researchers and engineers from KACST and SEC work together in this center promoting a productive model of collaboration between research and industry in Saudi Arabia.

This project is part of the KACST-SEC Joint Research and Development Center for the Distribution Sector. It aims at installing an intelligent monitoring system with multi-capabilities to monitor MV feeders of the distribution substations, which will improve network planning and reliability. Additionally, weather data will be collected to assist in network forecasting and analysis studies. The project will be supported by appropriate means of communication, either by satellite or by using GSM network. The project began with the installation of a lab prototype for the purpose of testing and continuous updating. SEC is highly interested in collecting accurate measurements for its distribution networks in order to improve its performance and facilitate future expansion, and pays attention to power quality indices.

In the first phase of this project, the system will be installed in one of the distribution substations in Al-Quwaiiyah city. Then, in the second phase, it will be expanded to cover all distribution substations in Riyadh area.

This project aims to design and implement a multipurpose STATic synchronous COMpensator (STATCOM) platform. The focus will be on the power electronics design, which includes a comprehensive power system and network modelling and analysis. The system is used for several applications such as power factor improvement, reactive power compensation, voltage regulation, flicker reduction, interconnection stability, and other applications. It involves a lab prototype, in the KACST MV advanced laboratory, that will be subjected to extensive testing according to international standards. It will then be moved to a real environment which is a remote area powered by a PV farm, that requires voltage regulation due to the volatility of solar radiation and weak connection points. The STATCOM technology is very advance and is potentially needed in the electricity sector around the world. The project is part of a five year agreement between KACST and the Saudi Electricity Company to install advanced voltage regulators at the medium voltage level in the distribution network, in order to solve consistent voltage and reactive power compensation problems.

The objective of this project is to design and implement a Smart Grid controller for controlling a Photovoltaic generation system to be installed at the distribution level. The controller is designed to monitor and control PV systems in order to improve the reliability and efficiency of the distribution network. In the first phase of this project, two controllers have been designed and installed at two schools in Riyadh. This phase is completed and the developed hardware and software were installed and connected to the monitoring station at the KACST campus. This phase was done in collaboration with the Saudi Electricity Company and the Ministry of Education. The second phase of this project has started this year in which the system is to be installed in one of the large mosques  in Riyadh. The design and implementation of major equipment has started and it is expected to be completed by next year. The beneficiaries of this project include: the Saudi Electricity Company, the Ministry of Energy, the Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority, and the private sector.

In 2016, KACST established an inverters production line and assembly at Solar Village in cooperation with China Power Company. This 30kw inverter can be used commercially and in PV power plants. These inverters are grid tie and suitable for use at schools and on mosque roofs and in small PV power plants from 1-3MW. The efficiency of this inverter is considerably high, i.e., 98% efficiency. This device is competitive with its counterparts in the world in terms of accuracy, efficiency and life time. It has been assembled and tested in KACST and has been installed in the smart grid project in cooperation with the Saudi Electricity Company. This device will also be installed at Souq OKAZ in Taif . This device has many PV panels with 635 V DC and it gives 400 V AC with 60 Hz.

The energy storage project is aimed at achieving major advances in the development of rechargeable batteries. The research focuses on the development of novel organic-based electrode active materials (small molecules and coordination polymers) for the production of high energy as well as power density, and more environmentally friendly electrodes/batteries.

Among present battery technologies, Li-ion batteries (LIBs) are the best performing ones because they store a large amount of energy for their size. Presently, LIBs are expanding their territories from small electronics to large-scale applications, including hybrid electrical vehicles and utility grids. It is likely, however, that the lithium reserves are not going to be sufficient to support LIBs scalabilities for grid applications. Furthermore, LIBs are relatively expensive for large-scale applications, on account of the transition metal (e.g., Co, Ni) used in the electrode. Along these lines, organic rechargeable batteries (ORBs) are an attractive alternative to LIBs, because of the abundant sources of carbon footprint and low cost, and environmentally benign processes.

The use of organic electrode-active materials offers a number of advantages over their inorganic counterparts, namely: the ease of tuning of their material properties, high power capability, and a renewable supply of lighter materials. Therefore there is a growing trend of moving towards more environmentally friendly alternatives for energy storage.

In this project, researchers have shown that the addition of microporous redox-active organic macrocycles shows outstanding electrochemical performance in cells. Our studies have uncovered that the naphthalene di-imide triangle can be charged and discharged at rates significantly higher than observed in other organic-based electrode-active materials. This observation is important because enhanced rate performance has been a perennial goal in battery technology, where high power density is critical.

With the cultivation of new and recent collaborations, as well as continued developments in molecular architectures, it is the ultimate goal of this project to realize new emergent materials that deliver the promise of intellectual property with sustained commercial application.

This project aims to develop an energy storage system with a view to increasing its performance, reducing production costs, and adapting to hot climatic conditions, to be one of the most attractive technologies for renewable energy storage.

It focuses on the fabrication of a new design of a Sodium Nickel Chloride (NaNiCl2) Battery with a capacity of 3kWh. The second phase is to develop a battery with high capacity (15kWh) to reduce production costs and increase reliability, by using a new design for sealing the cell through active brazing and battery management system (BMS). This project also aims to fabricate a new planar design of batteries to increase the active surface area which could then lead to the achievement of higher power and energy densities.

During the period of the project, some of the battery manufacturing equipment and materials have been supplied. Staff have been trained to operate equipment such as the laser welding machine.

Li-ion batteries have been considered as one of the most promising candidates for energy storage due to their high energy density and cycle stability. As an alternative technology, Na-ion batteries potentially offer a lower cost, and a safer and more environmentally friendly battery system in comparison with the Li-ion system. The anode part becomes the main drawback of the commercialization of the Na-ion batteries because the typical graphite employed in Li-ion batteries does not intercalate Na+ ions. This is related to the large size of the Na-ion, which is 372% that of a Li-ion, and thus makes it impossible to simply adopt recent knowledge and strategies developed for high performance Li-ion batteries directly onto Na-ion batteries.

The objectives of the current phase in this project are to develop capable anode and cathode materials for Na-ion batteries which can be used in both organic and aqueous electrolytes, with detailed characterization and electrochemical performance tests, in order to develop synthetic approaches for high-performance anode and cathode materials for aqueous sodium-ion battery systems

About two-thirds of the electric energy generated in Saudi Arabia is used in buildings and two-thirds of that is used by air-conditioning. This is a consequence of the severe climatic conditions in the Kingdom. The demand for electricity as a result of increasing population, expansion, and development plans, has increased. The increasing cost of energy and adverse impact on the environment by energy production, have all contributed significantly to finding means to seriously reduce energy consumption in buildings. Multi-Generation for District Cooling Technology (MG-DC) is based on adopting sorption cooling technologies to enhance overall efficiency of stand-alone combined energy generation sources working for district cooling networks. MG-DC implements the development of cutting edge technology in the area of compressor chillers, AB-sorption chillers, AD-sorption chillers and combined heat and power units, to enable achieving maximum energy efficiency independently of energy demand profile. This MG-DC project provides consulting services for the development of innovative, high efficiency, or 100%, solar power based district cooling technology, in areas covering various demand profiles from residential and commercial sectors to industrial use.

Enormous amount of energy is consumed by air conditioning systems during the summer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The current most effective form of air conditioning is the mechanical vapor compression system (MVC). In the air-conditioning peak demand period in Saudi Arabia the electricity consumption might reach more than 70% of the installed capacity of the national power generation. On the other hand, the simple desiccant enhanced evaporative air conditioning system provides drastic energy savings over the MVC system. It is necessary to emphasize that the net fresh water consumption by the indirect evaporative cooling part in the system is much less than the amount of water consumed in a conventional evaporative cooling system. The main objective of this project is to design, construct and test two systems. The first is a complete solar desiccant air conditioning unit consisting of a desiccant dehumidification system, indirect evaporative cooler, solar thermal and PV systems for hot humid areas. The second is a solar PV operated indirect evaporative cooler for hot dry areas.

Saudi Arabia is burning a lot of oil for domestic energy and a large proportion of this consumption is used for air conditioning. To reduce domestic fuel consumption, renewable solar energy can make a significant contribution. This project aims to develop energy-efficient solar absorber devices that are suitable for Saudi-Arabian climatic conditions. An absorber device will consist of a new solar selective coating, based on Carbon Nanotubes, and other functional Nanocoatings, to enhance the total energy efficiency of such a device. Furthermore, technologies for production will be developed to achieve low cost processing. By providing highly efficient solar absorber devices to the Saudi market, circulation of renewable energy technologies for air conditioning (solar cooling) and generating domestic hot water (solar thermal) is expected to be increased, resulting in decreasing total domestic fuel consumption.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia currently uses ~10 GW, or more than 18%, of its electricity production for lighting. Current lighting technology in the Kingdom is based on highly inefficient incandescent lighting (10-15 lumens/watt) that produces undesirable heat.

The transformation to solid-state lighting (SSL), with an ultimate theoretical efficiency of ~300 lumens/watt (lm/W), will correspond to nearly zero energy consumption for lighting while simultaneously reducing air conditioning loads. Nonpolar and semipolar III-nitride light-emitting diodes (LEDs) show promise for meeting this goal by providing viable and rationale solutions to efficiency “droop” and the “green gap”. The purpose of this project is to develop and improve the local capabilities for device growth, material characterization, device fabrication, and on-wafer measurement of high-performance GaN LEDs for next-generation SSL systems.

The project aims to develop blue LEDs with a peak external quantum efficiency (EQE) of >75% and an efficiency droop of <10% at 350 A/cm2.

Lighting for buildings and roads consumes about 20% of all the generated electricity in the world, which is equal to about 1.144 TW. This huge amount of energy costs about 300 billion dollars and is accompanied with the emission of around 410 tons of carbon dioxide.

Currently, Saudi Arabia consumes about 10 GW for lighting which represents about 18% of the total generated electricity.

Developing alternative lighting sources that can lower electricity consumption is aligned to the requirements for the energy sector detailed in Saudi Vision 2030. The objective of this project is to utilize national expertise to build an assembly line for light emitting diode fixtures to be used for building and roads.

The ultimate goal is to exploit the outcome of this project to initiate investing opportunities in the field of advanced industry which will assure the ownership of advanced technology and also promote jobs for young engineers and technicians.

Along with the project goals, the aim is to work with government partners to reduce energy consumption by gradually using low power Solid State Lighting.

The Center for Complex Engineering Systems (CCES) in collaboration with the Water and Energy Research Institute (WERI), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Saudi Electricity Company has developed a high-fidelity long-term strategic planning tool for renewable technologies in the Saudi power system called SUPER. The name stands for Sizing, Ultimate Placement, Expansion, and Reinforcement of Generation and Transmission Infrastructures (SUPER).

KACST’s SUPER has been designed to find the optimal sizing, portfolio selection, timing, and placement of renewables to ensure maximum economic benefit, reliability, and minimum capital and operational costs. This decision support system (DSS) relies on a rich Saudi-specific database to capture existing generation and transmission infrastructures, technical specifications, capital and operational costs, and measured renewable potential. Additionally, KACST’s SUPER can be expanded to examine the economic viability of large-scale storage to enhance the penetration and reliability of renewable power generation.

The DSS will aid stakeholders in achieving an integrated long-term planning in a unifying framework. The planning challenges primarily stem from renewables temporal intermittency, spatial diversity of renewables potential, seasonally-varying synchronicity between peak demand and peak renewables generation, capacity credit of renewables, transfer limits between load centers, technical limits of dispatchable generation, and regional fuel availability.

Due to Saudi’s strategic location, significant renewable potential, and rapidly growing demand for electricity in the region, Saudi Arabia can export electricity to neighboring countries. The export of electric power depends on the establishment of a competitive local market for electricity, which is an attempt to solve and mitigate distortions in the local market resulting from government energy subsidies. To assess the possibility of the Kingdom exporting electricity, CCES have studied the possibility of exchanging energy between the GCC countries by reviewing the transmission lines between the Kingdom and its neighbors, and identifying the basic organizational steps necessary to establish a regional electricity market through mathematical modeling.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is witnessing rapid urban development and growth in electric power demand, which requires the country to provide new and innovative solutions to develop and maintain its electricity infrastructure in a sufficient and sustainable manner, as well as to support decision makers in taking the necessary actions to rationalize and manage the use of electricity.

The objective of this project is to provide an advanced model of urban energy based on the development of complex algorithms, that accommodate the context of building designs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its various regions, using LiDAR data as an input to develop an integrated three-dimensional model of Riyadh city automatically, quickly and cheaply.

The urban model used for the simulation of electrical energy consumption depends on the construction of building templates to take into account the building materials used, and data showing the behavior of the occupants in the buildings. With the design of building templates and integrating them in the three-dimensional model of the city, the urban model of the city can predict electric power consumption and the feasibility of installing solar panels as well as its output. The model can also estimate the energy consumed in the construction of buildings and can predict the walkability and the possibility of using bicycles (bikeability) in neighborhoods. The behavior of building occupants also contributes to the consumption of electricity and the formation of a mathematical model that simulates the behavior of the inhabitants was done in this project as well.

The engineering model also contributes to the knowledge of patterns of electric power consumption and in finding the optimal integration of distribution network systems for electric power. This helps individuals achieve partial independence in obtaining electricity, and reducing the burden on the national grid. The engineering model aims to investigate and increase the economic potential in the installation of solar panels, which contributes to the alleviation of the financial burden of electricity bills and also reduces the burden on the national grid for electric power.

The objective of this project is to develop dust repellent coating materials suitable for different weather conditions experienced in the Kingdom. Dust repellent coating materials containing silicon dioxide particles in the size range of 5-20 nm will be prepared by sol-gel method. The glass panels will be coated by dipping them in coating solution, which will be followed by hardening the coating in a 500 degree centigrade oven. Six different sites and weather conditions over the country were selected to evaluate the dust repellent properties. The transparency coated glass panels were positioned in a tilted direction in order to evaluate the solar cell applications. The coated glass efficiency will be improved by more than 10% when using the developed coating solution. In addition, cleaning efforts will be reduced and the solar cell will be more protected from UV rays. A pilot planet will be designed and established at Solar Village for applying the coating solution on large size solar cell panels (1m * 2m).