Renewable energy is the most competitive form of power generation in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, according to a new report published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The findings come as GCC economies seek to diversify their economies against the backdrop of fast-growing domestic energy demand and a desire to safeguard hydrocarbon export revenues for the future.
IRENA’s new Renewable Energy Market Analysis: GCC 2019 launched during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, says achieving stated 2030 targets can bring significant economic benefits to the region including the creation of more than 220 000 new jobs whilst saving over 354 million barrels of oil equivalent (MBOE) in regional power sectors. The targets could reduce the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by 136 million tonnes (22% reduction), while cutting water withdrawals in the power sector by 11.5 trillion liters (17 per cent reduction) in 2020.
“The GCC is among the most attractive regions in the world to develop large-scale solar and wind energy projects as a result of resource abundance and a favorable policy environment, a fact that is backed up by record low prices,” said IRENA Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin. “As a fossil-fuel exporting region, the GCC’s decisive move towards a renewable energy future is a signal to global investors and to the energy community that we are experiencing a step-change in global energy dynamics and a true energy transformation.”
At the end of 2017, the region had some 146 GW of installed power capacity, of which renewable energy accounted for 867 MW. Around 68 per cent this capacity was in the UAE. This represents a four-fold increase on capacity in 2014. Following the UAE are Saudi Arabia with 16% and Kuwait with nine per cent of regional capacity.
Currently, solar PV dominates the region’s renewables outlook, accounting for three-quarters of the regional project pipeline, CSP and wind account for 10 and 9%, respectively. Solar-assisted enhanced oil recovery in Oman is also expected to contribute about 1 gigawatt-thermal (GWth) in 2019.
“The UAE’s commitment to diversifying the energy mix is central to our long-term economic growth and sustainable development objectives,” said H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy. “IRENA’s GCC analysis provides further evidence of the strong socio-economic case for renewable energy deployment, from job creation to emission reductions. As we look to add generation capacity to serve growing populations and expanding economies, renewables will increasingly serve as central pillar of low-carbon development.”