The Middle East and North Africa region is going to need 120 gigawatts of energy by 2017, according to a leading figure at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) and board member of the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA).
Dr. Steve Griffiths, Executive Director of Masdar’s Institute Initiatives told Albawaba Business that the United Arab Emirates will spend $250 billion in order to generate 20 GW by 2017.
He explains that renewable energy generation comprises an important part of this plan, though he is also blunt to say that it is crucial to develop progressive demand and supply-side policies that will promote greater implementation.
Currently energy and water subsidies thwart the UAE’s investment potential since consumers have no incentive to switch from oil to solar or to conserve what they have.
Dr. Griffiths says that the only chance to stimulate wider uptake of solar energy is to invest time and effort into gathering “site-specific, long-term data with high spatial resolution, adjusted for local climate conditions.”
“The UAE Research Center for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment (ReCREMA) at Masdar Institute can offer guidance in this area,” he told the paper.
Dr. Griffiths, who earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT and his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, puts natural gas and nuclear energy side by side with solar energy as integral to the UAE’s overall renewable energy plan.
However, he also emphasizes that the Arabian Peninsula has solar insolation levels that put Germany to shame, even though the region’s solar generation pales in comparison to their northern competitor.
In other words, there is great potential for a solar industry that can sustain the Middle East and North Africa, but governments need to make it easier for them to get a foothold.
Alongside Saudi Arabia, the UAE is one of the few nations that takes carbon capture and storage (CCS) seriously; the World Bank suggests rapid deployment of the technique is crucial if we stand any chance of staving off the worst of climate change.