According to a report released today by IRENA, scaling up renewable energy in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries would reap multiple benefits. Renewable Energy Market Analysis: The GCC Region, finds that GCC countries could save 11 trillion litres of water withdrawal (a 16 per cent decrease), save 400 million barrels of oil in power sector (a 25 per cent decrease), create more than 200,000 direct jobs and reduce the per capita carbon footprint by 8 per cent in 2030, if GCC plans and targets are achieved.
Perhaps of most importance to the water scarce region, achieving renewable energy targets would also decrease water withdrawals in the energy sector by 16 per cent, since renewables, in particular solar photovoltaics, can be less water intensive than fossil fuel technologies. Desalination now accounts for a substantial share of total energy consumption in most GCC countries. Switching to solar desalination could offer a reliable, cost-effective and environmentally-sustainable way to address the rising demand for water in the long-term, the report finds.
During the publication’s launch event during the World Future Energy Summit, one of the authors spoke about the purpose of the report.
“We are now able to analyse the broader context and how elements interact to develop renewable energy.” Dr. Rabia Ferroukhi, Senior Programme Officer – Policy Advice & Deputy Director, Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre (KPFC).During a panel on strategic policy planning, speakers discussed the challenges, lessons and successes learned from renewable energy projects in the region.“Procurement should be seen as a long-term programme. It’s important to signal to investors that it is long-term and that there are further opportunities in the future.” -Armando Dominioni, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.According to Sa-a’ad Al Jandal from the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait is pursuing a 10 per cent contribution of renewable energy to the mix, which requires $8 billion investment by 2030. He said that the Shagaya project, which consists of a concentrated solar power, solar PV and wind facilities, was progressing and that by May 2016, wind turbines and PV will be running.
“There have been many targets set in events like these, but not enough implementation. Many GCC countries want economic compensation for lost oil revenues. The narrative must change to consider health and environmental impacts. We want to see climate change and environmental policy plans with implementation and energy efficiency. We would like to see the limited government funds leverage private finance.” – Tanzeed Alam, Climate and Energy Director, EWS-WWF.Ibrahim Babelli, Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of Economy and Planning, Saudi Arabia responded that Gulf countries did face many challenges in implementing climate change policies and that the focus should be on causes of pollution and limiting emissions by capturing CO2 and carbon sequestration.