Thursday, 12 December 2013

Saudi Arabia, Emirates lead charge on Mideast solar power
1 Nov 2013

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the world's leading oil producers, are spearheading a Middle Eastern drive to develop solar power, with plans for projects requiring $1.5 billion in investment by the end of 2014.
The program, designed to free up for export increasing amounts of oil and gas being used domestically for power generation, got a major endorsement from the Arab Forum for Environment and Development Monday.

It urged Arab states to re-evaluate their relationship with oil, the economic mainstay of the Arab world since the 1950s, and phase out state energy subsidies to focus investment in developing renewable energy. "Oil and gas are important, they will continue to be important," said Najib Saab, the forum's secretary-general. "We call for more careful use of oil and gas and for more serious development of renewable energy."

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter with declared reserves of 267 billion barrels, and the neighboring Emirates, a federation of seven gulf sheikdoms with reserves of 98 billion barrels, seek to add 1,000 MWs of solar capacity over the next few years to meet fast-growing industrial and social demand. That's enough to provide electricity for 200,000 homes.

While the producers want to conserve more of their oil output for exports, particularly with prices above $100 a barrel, Arab countries that rely on imported fuel see carbon-free power as a cheaper alternative.

From Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean eastward to the gulf sultanate of Oman on the Indian Ocean, governments are turning to alternative energy, driven primarily by a lack of gas for power generation, the fall in the cost of renewable technologies and their constantly improving efficiency.

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