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Page added on March 27, 2019

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How solar is powering the Middle East towards renewables

Alternative Energy

Think about energy generation in the Middle East and you probably think of oil. But in fact, the region is at the forefront of the race to decarbonize energy production.

In March, production started at one of the region’s first solar power plants linked to a storage facility. The Al Badiya plant at Al-Mafraq in Jordan combines a 23 megawatt (MW) solar farm with a 12.6 MWh storage capacity using lithium-ion batteries.

It’s just the latest regional green energy plant to go live. In February, Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, switched on “the world’s largest virtual battery plant”, able to store 648 MWh to balance demand on the grid and keep the city supplied for up to six hours in the event of an outage.

Big is better

That launch followed hot on the heels of the operational start up of what is claimed to be the world’s biggest solar plant, the Noor Abu Dhabi. At 1,177 MW it has double the capacity of the previous record holder, the 550 MW Desert Sunlight solar farm in California.

Last year, Dubai completed a major battery energy storage facility at its huge Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park. And in May of last year Lebanon opened its energy market to allow private-sector solar and wind generating companies to sell electricity to the grid. The aim is to end the country’s dependence on oil for electricity generation.

Image: Statista

So why is the oil-rich Middle East, which still generates most of its electricity from fossil fuels, becoming so keen on green alternatives? The plain fact is that leaders are facing up to climate change and the world’s shift towards renewables, as well as the eventual end of oil production as finite fossil fuel resources diminish over the century.

In a rare interview, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, appeared to embrace the change. “In 50 years, when we might have the last barrel of oil… I can tell you we will celebrate that moment,” he said.

Solar, wind and hydro

The region has high levels of sunshine, making solar an attractive solution. But Dubai has also commissioned the development of a hydroelectric power plant at the Hatta Dam in the Hajar Mountains. Solar energy will be used to pump water to a high-level reservoir during off-peak times, and stored water will be released to power the hydroelectric plant during the peaks.

The UAE is channelling its considerable oil revenues into alternative energy. By 2030 it plans to spend $160 billion on renewables, with the declared aim of generating two-thirds of its electricity from carbon-free sources by the middle of the century.

This ambitious target – among the most challenging in the region – has also been driven by concerns about climate change. The low-lying coastal cities of the UAE are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Last year the World Economic Forum published a whitepaper calling for the removal of regulatory obstacles to increased innovation in sustainable energy generation. With two-thirds of greenhouse gases created by energy generation, the whitepaper suggested progress was currently too slow to avoid catastrophic climate change.

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9 Comments on "How solar is powering the Middle East towards renewables"

  1. Cloggie on Wed, 27th Mar 2019 9:20 pm 

    In order to replace all the world’s current primary energy needs with solar, you need merely 111k km2 or 43k mile2 (Bulgaria or Virginia) IN THE SAHARA:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2018/12/29/the-scale-of-the-global-energy-transition/

    This fact offers enormous possibilities for the ME and northern Africa to become major hydrogen (or its many derivatives) producers, with its large amounts of (formerly) useless deserts and massive supply of cheap labour.

    1 kWh of solar can be generated for less than 2 cent.

    Major Eurasian companies and OPEC could invest in giant solar plants in Africa or the ME to produce cheap hydrogen for Eurasian markets. Hydrogen will beat oil on price alone, even without carbon tax.

    If Eurasia ensures that it buys hydrogen from many different sunny countries, this new dependency would be geopolitically responsible and acceptable, provided it can produce a chunk of its own energy needs from local offshore wind and solar panels on every suitable roof.

    The energy future will be renewable Cornucopian.

  2. Chrome Mags on Wed, 27th Mar 2019 10:43 pm 

    I’m right there with you on that one, Cloggie. Go renewables!

  3. Davy on Thu, 28th Mar 2019 5:22 am 

    “In order to replace all the world’s current primary energy needs with solar, you need merely 111k km2 or 43k mile2 (Bulgaria or Virginia) IN THE SAHARA:”

    The part you forget cloggo is a real human with wisdom to live a different way of life. You forget about overshoot and a planetary system falling apart. Your stupid examples are supposed to give us hope? Please spare us your energy fairies

  4. Antius on Thu, 28th Mar 2019 8:06 am 

    DARPA takes a small step in the right direction.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-26/darpa-wants-nuclear-reactor-rockets-deep-space-travel

    Interestingly, nuclear thermal rocket engines were developed for the US space programme under project NERVA, some fifty years ago. The US has literally sat on its hands for half a century and now needs to redevelop the same technology from scratch that it developed before most people living today were even born.

    Personally, I think NERVA is a rather weak technological option. It requires heat transfer from fuel to propellant, which limits the exhaust velocity of the engine to only about twice what is achievable with chemical propellants. Any crew must be shielded from gamma radiation (which adds weight) and gamma emissions from the radioactive engine (after firing) will make reusability difficult. It will also complicate EVA if astronauts need to go anywhere near it.

    The weaknesses of the design stem from the need to contain radioactive products released from fission. If this requirement is relaxed, then bomb propelled designs like mini-mag Orion offers orders of magnitude better performance, because the temperature of a nuclear fire ball is measured in millions of degrees, rather than a few thousands. This has the potential to make space travel as cheap as aeroplane travel, although the political difficulties that would accompany a space vehicle that releases radioactive fission products into Earth’s atmosphere are clearly significant. Maybe in another twenty years people will be too hungry to care.

    Imagine the absurdity of a country that is colonising space with nuclear powered rockets and hiding behind nuclear weapons for defence, but has to use windmills to generate electricity, because over zealous regulators killed the nuclear power industry!

  5. Robert Inget on Thu, 28th Mar 2019 8:38 am 

    If N. Korea can build Nuclear weapons and LR
    missiles to deliver, ANY nation can build PV’s
    and/or wind turbines.

    NA has oil and gas, therefore solar/wind instals
    have lagged nations w/o.

    Unlike oil, renewables are getting cheaper as science improves tech and manufacturing methods.

  6. Cloggie on Sat, 30th Mar 2019 3:06 am 

    If N. Korea can build Nuclear weapons and LR
    missiles to deliver, ANY nation can build PV’s
    and/or wind turbines.

    Not true. After the Jews, Koreans are the smartest people on the planet. There is no way that Africans or even Muslims can build solar plants, let alone large wind turbines.

    https://brainstats.com/static/98cd4bbec3b147659e3686e5b5d4b5c2/a1967/map.png

    What they CAN do though is install large solar grids and maintain them, if Eurasia provides the initial capital and solar panels and buys the resulting energy in the form of hydrogen or one of its many derivatives NH3, CH4, methanol, etc., etc.

    The greatest asset of Africans and Muslims is their sunny climate, large territory and endless supply of cheap labor that can replace oil and gas.

  7. Davy on Sat, 30th Mar 2019 3:52 am 

    “Not true. After the Jews, Koreans are the smartest people on the planet. There is no way that Africans or even Muslims can build solar plants, let alone large wind turbines.”

    Rubbish and giving us brainstats is more rubbish

  8. Cloggie on Sat, 30th Mar 2019 4:11 am 

    Rubbish and giving us brainstats is more rubbish

    Empire dave doesn’t like facts, he calls them “brain stats”. Marxist ideologues like him profess that everybody is ee-kwel, while looking over his shoulders to verify that he gets the nod from his owner George Soros, who put that idea in his minute brain in the first place.

    And to be fair to empire dave, there isn’t that much difference between him and the board African anonymouse1. They both compete to be the champ in claiming that nothing will ever work and everything will collapse.

    And since self-fulfilling prophecies are real, that’s exactly what they are going to get: collapse.

    Deep in his heart, davy would love to be a third-worlder himself. He doesn’t like European civilization, that’s why his ancestors, no doubt from the underclasses of society, left the place. Davy dreams of “Indians”, idealizes Noble Savages and large nature and back to basics, in order to escape from the too-demanding High Civilization. And that’s what empire dave is going to get: lots of noble savages, back to the basics and large nature. Good luck with your goats. No need for high-IQ points there. And these are brain stats anyway.

  9. Davy on Sat, 30th Mar 2019 4:36 am 

    “Empire dave doesn’t like facts, he calls them “brain stats”. Marxist ideologues like him profess that everybody is ee-kwel, while looking over his shoulders to verify that he gets the nod from his owner George Soros, who put that idea in his minute brain in the first place.”
    Wind Turbines and solar are not rocket science. The problem for Africa and ME is the economies to produce these things.
    I am anti-Soros thank you, liar
    I am anti-Marxist.
    I challenge you to show where I have promoted either. You can’t because you are a liar and a fraud.

    “And to be fair to empire dave, there isn’t that much difference between him and the board African anonymouse1.”
    Dumbshit, anon is a white idiot Canadian. He is rabidly anti-American and I can’t figure out why you two don’t love each other.

    “They both compete to be the champ in claiming that nothing will ever work and everything will collapse.”
    Anon champs nothing. He spends his two posts a day attacking you and me. He says nothing and is basically noise. At least you say something this is better than the two board lunatics JuanPeee and anonyomouse1

    “And since self-fulfilling prophecies are real, that’s exactly what they are going to get: collapse.”
    ???? WTF you talking about goofball? I say collapse is possible and we are likely in a decline phase of civilization. I have committed to no time frame. A few years ago I took the position of 3-5 because of the new normal of global finance and peak oil. I am now less pessimistic on a quick collapse but a little bit longer term I am not optimistic for painful consequences that you ignore and actually profess a golden future for your screwed up Eurotardland.

    “Deep in his heart, davy would love to be a third-worlder himself.”
    Fuck that noise idiot

    He doesn’t like European civilization, that’s why his ancestors, no doubt from the underclasses of society, left the place.
    My ancestors are similar to yours. I am 80% German and Dutch the remainder English, Irish, and Eastern European. I am 100% European per my DNA evaluation. Who knows what you are cloggo. I may be more Euro than you. I am more European than my wife. She has some Asian in here no doubt because here family is from the Venice region.

    “Davy dreams of “Indians”, idealizes Noble Savages and large nature and back to basics, in order to escape from the too-demanding High Civilization.”
    I preach respect for the Native American ways of connecting with Nature. You have no clue what I am talking about. I also have respect for Eastern traditions of Taoism and Buddhism. I respect the deeper aspects of Christianity. I am not a practicing anything. I admire and enjoy the best of comparative religions. I also respect science so I don’t follow sky daddy shit.

    “And that’s what empire dave is going to get: lots of noble savages, back to the basics and large nature. Good luck with your goats. No need for high-IQ points there. And these are brain stats anyway.”
    BS, running an intensive grazing operation with a multi-species animals is hard work and if you have quality animals it requires very extensive knowledge of veterinarian science and AG sciences. You have no clue about any of that and your little 10×10 garden is shit and will never feed you

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