“New energies including wind, solar, nuclear power plants and biomass and environmentally clean technologies are a necessity for the region to keep pace with its new energy demand. This is the only way it can conserve its main lifeline, oil, for the long term,” said Shailesh Dash, CEO of Al Masah Capital, which issued a report on worldwide alternative energy consumption.
He credited the rise to huge investments in energy intensive industries, rapid infrastructural and real estate developments, growing population and water consumption had significantly augmented energy needs. A large-scale shift away from oil and gas exports is underway in MENA, particularly in Gulf emirates such as Abu Dhabi – yet data shows the Gulf lags the rest of the region. “There was no production of renewable energy in these countries until 2008,” Al Masah said.
In 2008, Egypt had the largest share – 56.8 percent – in total renewable energy generated in the MENA region, followed by Iran with 18 percent. The Gulf needs to move away from “complete oil dependency to a balanced diet which prominently features alternative fuels,” Al Masah’s report said.
MENA recorded an average annual growth rate of 4 percent in oil consumption from 1999-2009 – higher than the 3.2 percent the previous decade. Natural gas consumption also increased by 6.6 percent in 1999–2009, up from 6 percent for the previous ten years. Oil contributes to about 50 percent of the GCC’s total GDP. MENA countries own around 61 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and approximately 45 percent of its proven natural gas reserves.
Current usage of alternative energy in the MENA region was minimal, significant alternative energy projects were underway. “Many of them are in the planning stages but these efforts will eventually bear fruit. The important thing is that this need is being recognized now rather than later when it might be too late,” Dash said.
According to the International Energy Agency, concentrated solar power plants in the region could cater to 100 times the combined electricity consumption of MENA and Europe. “The biggest resource in the MENA region is solar irradiance with a potential to meet the total demand for electricity worldwide,” it said in a statement. Based on climatic conditions and geographic location, Al Masah said Egypt had the best physical resources to implement solar technologies in the MENA region followed by Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE. In terms of current utilization, Morocco had the largest installed PV capacity in the region.Link