Power in the GCC
February 8, 2010 4:58 by kippreport
Despite the criticism, some steps to tackle its environmental challenges have been taken in the region -especially in the UAE.
For example, the UAE government announced that by 2020, it would generate 7 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable energy. Abu Dhabi is spending $22 billion to build Masdar City – the world’s first carbon neutral city. The development will run on renewable energy and is expected to house 55,000 people when ready in 2015. The city will also be home to the world’s largest solar power plant.
Last month, the UAE announced that it would award a contract to build a AED7 billion, 500MW hydrogen power plant in Abu Dhabi. The project, which is expected to emit less greenhouse gases than conventional power plants, was first announced in January 2008, and is a joint venture between Masdar, Rio Tinto and BP. Construction will begin in the fourth quarter of 2011, and it is expected to be completed by 2014.
The headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) is also located in the UAE, and the body is expected to help co-ordinate and promote the use of renewable energy in the region.
In Saudi Arabia, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will focus on clean energy research and development. In 2009, Saudi oil minister Ali al- Naimi said that the Kingdom “aspires to export as much solar energy in the future as it exports oil now,” and that KAUST would spearhead that effort.
Public awareness campaigns have also proved successful in some countries. During the summer of 2007, a major program by the Kuwaiti government highlighted the threat of imminent power outages, resulting in peak demand falling by 10 percent.