Shift towards clean energy can save GCC $87B: Study
The switch to more renewable forms of energy will also result in the reduction of up to one gigaton of carbon emissions by 2030, and the creation of countless jobs across the region. (Shutterstock)
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Renewable energy is not just a buzzword in the GCC anymore, and the countries that have a concrete plan to invest in clean energy and meet their targets in that segment have a lot to gain.
The shift away from fossil fuels and towards clean and renewable energy has the potential for the GCC to reap savings of up to $87 billion, a recent report by Orient Planet Research has found.
Entitled Clean Energy in the GCC, the report highlights that in addition to monetary savings, and fossil fuel savings, the switch to more renewable forms of energy will also result in the reduction of up to one gigaton of carbon emissions by 2030, and the creation of countless jobs across the region.
The report also revealed that achieving the renewable energy plans for the region's electricity sectors, could result in an overall savings of $55-$87 billion, depending on oil and gas prices. Carbon emissions could also be reduced, leading to an eight per cent cut in the region's per capita carbon footprint.
The figures were based on the findings of the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), which added that as more renewable power plants are brought online every year, fossil fuel savings in the power and water sectors could peak at around 400 million barrels of oil equivalent by 2030.
In terms of job creation, the estimated 5.7 million employed directly or indirectly in the global renewable energy industry in 2012 could triple by 2030, with the solar segment expecting to account for 85 per cent, followed by waste-to-energy at 14 per cent. The report also cited that renewable energy will help GCC countries produce 116,000 jobs annually.
Nidal Abou Zaki, managing director of Orient Planet Group, said: "Rapid industrialisation, population growth, and an increased rate of water desalination are all contributing to burgeoning energy demand. Right now, more fossil fuels are being used to meet the rising energy requirement but there is now a growing need to transform towards a more sustainable future. The prospects are bright for GCC countries in this regard especially because the region has a strong potential to be a net exporter of electricity generated from solar power in the future."
"Pursuing renewable resources in the Gulf is highly practical as it is as richly endowed with renewable resources as it is with hydrocarbons. The region, as the report notes, boasts of abundant year-round sunshine, the space to develop large solar power plants, significant wind and geothermal resources, and biomass derived from urban waste. There is no better time to pursue clean energy than now when the industry is experiencing significant growth worldwide," Abou Zaki added.
In terms of solar power, Mesia's 2017 Solar Outlook Report showed that 2016 was a record-breaking year for the solar power industry in the Middle East and North Africa region, with the UAE continuing to dominate the market in terms of large projects. The report noted that at the end of 2015, 693MW of solar capacity was operational in the Mena region. One year later, about 200MW was added to the installed base, and by April 1 this year an additional 200MW will come online.
Mesia's report also revealed that rooftop solar is proving to be an important contributor to the renewables strategy, with consumers large and small being exposed to the benefits, both financial and environmental. Experts note that the rooftop market in the UAE could reach 70MW in 2017 - this would mean a more-than-tenfold growth in a one year period.
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