Middle East Turning To Alternative Energy

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Abu Dhabi, UAE

It all sounds very grandiose and really too good to be true, but a number of  Persian Gulf states, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar are hoping to be able to satisfy a good portion of their massive energy needs through alternative and renewable energy sources, instead of relying mostly on oil.

In a part of the world that experiences some of the hottest summer temperatures, averaging above 44 degrees Celsius during at least 4 months of the year; and whose energy growth use is growing by more than 10% per annum, these countries have their work cut out for them to be able to realize 70% of their total energy needs  from alternative and renewable energy by the year 2030.

By trying they definitely are, and with unique sustainable environment projects like Abu Dhabi’s zero-carbon Masdar City and Qatar’s carbon-neutral Energy City being able to produce a good part of their required energy needs may not be as far fetched as it seems.

In the two noted examples, both Abu Dhabi and Qatar plan to use a combination of renewable energy power sources to provide electricity and other energy needs for these pilot projects which will be the basis for the gradual switching from conventional power sources to those such as solar energy and wind power, geothermal and hydrogen (which also can be used to power cars and other vehicles).

In regards to geothermal power which utilizes energy from volcanoes and hot springs, and is now said to be more economical than either coal or natural gas, the UAE and other Gulf States may find it worthwhile to do business with an Israeli company, Ormat Industries, which is now said to be involved in a large geothermal energy project in Indonesia.

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and one that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. If Indonesia can do business with an Israeli company like Ormat (which is also involved in solar energy projects), so can countries like Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

In order to generate more interest in renewable and alternative energy projects in the UAE and other Gulf states, various international conferences and exhibitions are being held there, including the Alter Energy 09 Convention, recently held last month at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center, with the theme of developing and implementing alternative and renewable energy to reduce dependence on conventional energy sources.

And then there is the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi,   in January 2010, that will feature the concept of environmentally sustainable “eco-cites” of which Masdar City will be one of when completed.

Fortunately for these Gulf countries, most of them have enough remaining oil wealth to finance these projects without having to apply for crippling loans from the World Bank (whose theme is a “world free of poverty”) or other financial institutions.

These countries are also acutely aware that they need to wean themselves off dependence on petroleum for both their livelihood and primary energy source;  for they are aware of the reality that in regards to oil, it won’t last forever.

Article by Maurice Picow appearing courtesy of Green Prophet

[photo credit: Ioan Barbulescu]

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  • http://www.advancednrgsolutions.com Andre D. Henderson, Sr.

    Qatar has one of the largest LNG plants in the world along with natural gas reserves… it makes sense! See presentation on this link: http://www.advancednrgsolutions.com/Information.html; scroll down to… LNG the United States Commercial Service and Qatar.

    As fossil fuels are used less… alternatives will be used more!

    And we should not pit one alternative solution verses another… they all should be used in conjunction… there is a much bigger picture involved.

    Technologies like Gasification which converts waste to energy in the form of a “synthesis gas” and Algae Production systems for bio-fuel feedstock should be invested in and implemented. Consider Compressed Air Technology for the transportation industry and energy saving lighting including Electromagnetic Induction… go to this site for more information on companies implementing the above technologies: http://www.advancednrgsolutions.com/Companies.html

  • carley

    hey thanks for the great source… we r doing a project for national history day and this was really helpful… thank you!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.southeastsolar.net usdoc1

    Given the fact the world oil supplies will be completely depleted within the next 40 years(per the study released in 2008 by Phillips petroleum company), I am not surprised the middle eastern countries have started seriously investing in alternative energy. It is time to join hands with all countries and find the solution to this on going increasing demand for energy. In particular China and India have become very energy dependent to develop their infrastructure. Both have agreed in principle to develop alternative energy field to their advantage and to reduce carbon emission. India in particular has capacity to produce huge amount of alternative energy including but not limited to solar PV, Solar thermal wind and wave energy. They have been one of the largest consumers of the well made PV collectors made in the USA.

    If the middle eastern countries join hands and ask the help of Israel and Germany to develop this technology. This will not only promote friendship but MAY pave a way for a permanent solution to the long standing problem between these middle eastern countries.

  • http://www.sacre-davey.com Chris Sacre

    Consider the movie:

    Small arab nation strikes oil and gas, adn as a result, an intense industrial and building revolution ensues, literally, building this nation up from the desert in less than a quarter century.

    Much of this growth has been based on reinvestment of oil based riches into the society to keep diving the machine. The issue? Oil is finite. Dubai has already seen much of its oil reserves depleted and in response, has diversified its economy to incorporate logistics and trade, banking, real estate and tourism.

    The issue at hand is that this economy has been driven by the rest of the World’s hunger for oil and gas. With published reserves beign a decade or less, it Seems Dubai has been prudent in its diversification.

    In nearby Abu Dhabi, oil reserves are forecast to drive the economy for a further century or more. AS a result, like Dubai, Abu Dhabi has been building an economy that is much more that oil, but which is predominantly predicated on inexpensive energy.

    So while the GHG and clean air attributes of alternative energy are known, the cost structure is such that electricity generated from alternate sources has a tough time competing with electricity derived from oil and gas.

    And the only thing that can drive that is policy and pricing.

    So…while the initiatives in the Gulf region are to be applauded, the real rubber hits the road when feed-in-tariffs for clean energy are sufficient to commercially justify investment in wind and solar farms, and electricity rates increased to reflect the true opportunity cost of the oil and gas which drives the economy.

    Without REAL investment in renewable electricity, who will be left to turn out the lights when the oil and gas runs out?