Transmission Ties: Saudi Arabia’s regional connections

Saudi Arabia has a robust and extensive transmission network that serves as the backbone of its electricity infrastructure. It plays a critical role in ensuring reliable power supply and supporting the country’s economic gro­wth. Saudi Arabia has been actively pursuing electricity transmission ties with neighbouring countries, fostering regional cooperation and bolstering energy security. With the increasing global focus on the transition to low-carbon econo­mies, the country aims to reduce its carbon emissions by decreasing dependence on fossil fuels. The oil-rich country has set a target of generating half of its ele­ctricity over the next decade from clean en­er­gy sources, which is in line with the kingdom’s Vision 2030. It is estimated that the country’s installed capacity will increase from over 83 GW in 2022 to approximately 118 GW by 2030, achieved with a combination of 50 per cent natural gas and 50 per cent renewable energy sources (RES).  The Ministry of Energy’s spending on power and RES projects is expected to re­ach $293 billion by 2030.

To fully utilise the upcoming capacity, optimise operating costs and increase regio­nal power exchange, state-owned electric company Saudi Electricity Com­pany (SEC), through its wholly owned transmission subsidiary, National Grid SA, is ac­ti­vely pursuing opportunities to interconne­ct its grid with those of other countries in the region. Currently, it is working on cro­ss-border interconnectors with Iraq, In­dia, Jordan and Egypt. Saudi Arabia is also embracing the energy transition and as it advances towards a more sustainable fu­ture, the integration of smart grid tech­no­logies becomes in­creasingly crucial. Sm­art grid solutions, including smart me­ters, demand respon­se systems and en­er­gy storage, will significantly enhance the efficiency, flexibility and resilience of Saudi Arabia’s transmission network.

Key growth drivers for transmission infrastructure expansion

Saudi Arabia plans to transform its generation mix. It proposes to revamp its existing installed generation capacity of 83.4 GW as of December 2022, which is predominantly based on thermal sources such as natural gas, crude oil, diesel and heavy fuel oil, accounting for nearly 99.5 per cent of the total.  According to the National Rene­wable Energy Program (NREP), the RES target for 2030 is 58.7 GW, of which 40 GW will be based on solar PV, 16 GW on wind and 2.7 GW on concentrated solar power. To achieve the planned capacity, more th­an 35 renewable energy parks will be es­tablished across the country.

The NREP will drive the adoption of new RES techno­lo­gies, facilitate private sector investment and encourage public-private partnerships. In addition to RES capacity, the co­untry plans to add approximately 5,000 MW of conventional capacity and 2,800 MW of nuclear capacity by 2030. Another key driver is the expected growth in the country’s electricity demand from 292,771 GWh in 2022 to 365,400 GWh by 2030. To meet this demand, the country is focusing on harnessing its RES potential.

Existing transmission infrastructure and future plans

As of 2022, Saudi Arabia’s transmission net­work spanned about 92,999 ckt. km in terms of line length at the 132 kV to 380 kV levels. Between 2018 and 2022, Saudi Arabia’s transmission network grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.7 per cent, with net additions of close to 9,317 ckt. km. The country’s transmission network saw significant growth at the 230 kV and 380 kV levels, which increased from just 37,783 ckt. km in 2018 to 49,649 ckt. km in 2022. Transformer capacity stood at 474,262 MVA as of 2022, recording a CAGR of 3.3 per cent compared to 417,203 MVA in 2018.

The National Grid has ambitious plans to expand its transmission network in order to minimise congestion, interconnect isolated regions and connect new power plants to the grid. The company and its parent SEC are working with the Ministry of Energy’s Renewable Energy Project Development Bureau to integrate renewable energy plants into the grid. Further, it has been focusing on the adoption of hy­brid technology for its existing and upco­m­ing substations, positioning Saudi Ara­bia as the first country in the Middle East to adopt the hybrid gas-insulated switch­gear (GIS) technology. The Natio­nal Grid also plans to implement grid links to str­en­g­then regional cross-border interconnections and construct new high capacity lines connecting to neighbouring Gulf co­un­tries. Over the next three years (2023-25), the National Grid plans to add over 3,600 ckt. km of transmission infrastructure to Saudi Arabia’s grid at an investment of about SAR 5.4 billion.

Saudi Arabia’s role in regional energy integration

Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in the de­velopment of a robust and interconnected regional energy network by actively strengthening electricity transmission ties. These interconnections not only en­hance energy security but also promote the efficient utilisation of reso­ur­­ces, facilitate RES integration and en­able seamless electricity exchan­ge across borders. Am­ong the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia has been interconnected since 2012 through a power grid managed by the Gulf Cooperation Council Inter­co­n­nection Authority (GCCIA). Ongoing effor­ts aim to strengthen the GCC grid as well as expand it to other neighbouring countries. Recently, in March 2023, the GCCIA awar­ded a contract to upgrade the Al-Fadhili high voltage direct current (HVDC) converter station in Saudi Arabia to enable the exchange of up to 1,800 MW of electricity among GCC countries.

The following are some of Saudi Arabia’s interconnectors at various stages of planning and development:

  • Saudi Arabia-Iraq interconnector: This interconnector aims to facilitate electricity exchange and resource sharing besi­des strengthening economic ties betwe­en the two countries and promoting regi­o­nal stability. The proposed 1 GW interconnector involves the construction of a 400 kV, 435 km link between the northern Saudi town of Arar and the central Iraqi city of Yusufiya by 2024.
  • Saudi Arabia-Egypt link: This 3 GW project, being jointly implemented by the Na­tional Grid and Egyptian Elec­tricity Trans­mission, aims to establish an HVDC link between the two countries. Earlier, in 2023, the Japan Bank for International Co­­operation (JBIC) ex­tended a loan of $207 million to SEC for the Saudi side of the project. The project entails the construction of th­ree converter stations – two in Tabuk and Medina in Saudi Arabia and one in Badr in Egypt. Overhead HVDC lines spanning 1,300 km (around 965 km in Saudi Arabia and 335 km in Egypt) and a 20 km submarine cable crossing the Gulf of Aqaba will connect the converter stations. The project will become operational in a phased manner with the first phase ex­pected to be completed by June 2025, enabling the transfer of 1,500 MW and the second phase by Novem­ber 2025.
  • Saudi Arabia-Jordan interconnection: The interconnection aims to enable the sharing of surplus electricity and promo­te the use of RES in both countries. The National Grid is working with Jor­d­an’s state-owned Natio­n­al Electric Power Co­mpany on the project. Initi­a­lly, it will en­ab­le the exc­h­ange of ar­ound 500 MW of electricity between the two countries, wi­th the possibility to increase it to 1,000 MW in the future. It is a part of the effort to es­t­a­­blish a joint Arab electricity market that interconnects Arab Gulf countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Ir­aq. It entails the construction of a 164 ckt. km, 400 kV overhead transmission li­ne between Qurayyat (Saudi Arabia) and East Amman (Jor­dan), along with a 400 kV GIS substation in Saudi Arabia by 2025.
  • Saudi Arabia-Oman interconnection: The project aims to increase the net tra­nsfer capacity to Oman from 400 MW to approximately 1,600 MW. It entails the construction of a 700 km, 400 kV HVDC link between the Sul­tanate of Oman at Ib­ri, directly to Sal­wa in Saudi Arabia. If ap­proved, it will be the second interconnection betwe­en the two countries. The first, which has been in operation since 2012, supports transfer of up to 400 MW and can carry up to 800 MW in em­er­g­e­ncies. It links Oman’s Main Interco­n­n­ec­t­ed System with the power systems of the GCCIA via Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia-India partnership: Saudi Arabia and India are exploring avenues for an electricity interconnection project. The initiative seeks to establish an un­­d­ersea transmission link, enabling the ex­change of power, enhancing grid stability, and supporting the economic growth and sustainability goals of both countries. This is part of India’s One Sun, One World, One Grid initiative, whi­­­­­ch envisions creating interconnected green grids to enable countries to me­et the targets of the Paris Agree­me­nt to prevent the adverse effects of clima­te change.


Saudi Arabia aims to maximise the be­nefits of its upcoming generation capacity by developing grid infrastructure for power ev­acuation and establishing in­tercon­nectors with neighbouring countries.