As National Grid Saudi Arabia (NGSA) progresses with its ambitious power grid infrastructure upgrade, Dow (NYSE: DOW)
has been providing materials for pre-qualification testing of power cables and Saudi manufacturers use Dow’s trusted ENDURANCE™ cable insulation system as they intensify EHV cable production.

NGSA, a subsidiary of Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), is seeing rapid progress in upgrading its power grid infrastructure with the help of national and international cable manufacturers. This is being achieved by replacing the old High Voltage (HV) cable underground network consisting of oil filled cables with Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XLPE) cables. It is being further boosted up by the induction of XLPE cables at Extra High Voltage (EHV) level.

Since its four formerly separate grids were interconnected, NGSA has built power links with many neighboring countries including a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) back-to-back converter station to connect 50 and 60 Hertz networks. In tandem with Dawiyat, another subsidiary of SEC, the fiber optic network has grown significantly with the expansion of its overhead transmission network. Now, submarine telecom cables at the landing stations in Jeddah, Al Khobar and Yanbu are connected to a high-performance data network with the help of optical ground wire from overhead transmission lines (OHL).

Championing Saudi engineers and technicians

A long-time champion of home-grown talent and improving the knowledge and skills of Saudi engineers and technicians, NGSA encourages Saudi-based cable manufacturers to develop the technical capabilities required to locally manufacture HV and EHV cables and systems. Local manufacturers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are successfully supplying power cables up to HV level, not only in KSA but also in Gulf Coast countries. Now these manufacturers are stepping up into the production of EHV cables at 380kV level.

Dow is a strong proponent of innovative product solutions required to fulfil the growing energy demand in the Middle East, particularly in KSA. Dow has successfully conducted pre-qualification testing of 380 kV cables produced within KSA.

Successful pre-qualification test, requires the entire system, including cables and accessories, pass strict testing and requires a high level of processing acumen proven by the cable manufacturer as well as the utilization of materials of exceptional quality. International standards organizations such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) regulate EHV participation and only approve high performance cables with long service life.

A home-grown success story: Dow and Saudi cable manufacturers

Saudi cable manufacturers have quickly emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the Middle East. The proof is the construction of cable manufacturing towers ranging from 40 m to 125 m that house vertical continuous vulcanization and catenary continuous vulcanization lines. This was possible with investment in world-class equipment, including electrical cable testing equipment and facilities in accordance with international standards such as IEC 62067 for 150 kV-500 kV and AINSI/ICEA S-108-720 for 46-500 kV.

Recently, 380 kV power cables have been used to connect the Fadhili gas plant. This co-generation plant has a capacity of 1,500MW, including 400MW for the gas plant, while the remaining 1,100MW is supplied to the national grid.

Dow has a long history of close collaborations in the Kingdom, including the academic-research-industry partnership in form of the Dow Middle East Innovation Centre (Dow MEIC) and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the alliance between Dow and Saudi Aramco which formed the Sadara Chemical Company.

Powerful collaborations

Inspired by the efforts of NGSA, strong collaborations have been developed throughout the value chain and culminated in successful deployment of electrical infrastructure to support the further economic growth of the KSA. Highlights of EHV cable installations include:

  • Connection of new power plants
  • Construction of compact EHV substations and interconnections in new administrative and residential districts, replacing the OHL by underground cables which come within the city boundaries, as the city expands.
  • Neom City, a mega-city that planned on the Red Sea coast, the northwestern Saudi province of Tabuk
  • Beautification of infrastructure at Red Sea tourist project spreading over islands, beaches, desert, mountains and volcanic areas as well as the power supply for 2nd stage of Riyadh Public Transport Project (RPTP) metro system are also recent examples.