Artist’s view of Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City
It all sounds very grandiose and really too good to be true, but a number of Persian Gulf states, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar are hoping to be able to satisfy a good portion of their massive energy needs through alternative and renewable energy sources, instead of relying mostly on oil.
In a part of the world that experiences some of the hottest summer temperatures, averaging above 44 degrees Celsius during at least 4 months of the year; and whose energy growth use is growing by more than 10% per annum, these countries have their work cut out for them to be able to realize 70% of their total energy needs from alterntive and renewable energy by the year 2030.
By trying they definitely are, and with unique sustainable environment projects like Abu Dhabi’s zero-carbon Masdar City and Qatar’s carbon-neutral Energy City being able to produce a good part of their required energy needs may not be as far fetched as it seems.
In the two noted examples, both Abu Dhabi and Qatar plan to us a combination of renewable energy power sources to provide electricity and other energy needs for these pilot projects which will be the basis for the gradual switching from conventional power sources to those such as solar energy and wind power, geothermal and hydrogen (which also can be used to power cars and other vehicles).
In regards to geothermal power which utilizes energy from volcanoes and hot springs, and is now said to be more economical than either coal or natural gas, the UAE and other Gulf States may find it worthwhile to do business with an Israeli company, Ormat Industries, which is now said to be involved in a large geothermal energy project in Indonesia.
Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and one that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. If Indonesia can do business with an Israeli company like Ormat (which is also involved in solar energy projects), so can countries like Abu Dhabi and Qatar.
In order to generate more interest in renewable and alternative energy projects in the UAE and other Gulf states, various international conferences and exhibitions are being held there, including the Alter Energy 09 Convention, recently held last month at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center , with the theme of developing and implementing alternative and renewable energy to reduce dependence on conventional energy sources.
And then there is the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, in January 2010, that will feature the concept of environmentally sustainable “eco-cites” of which Masdar City will be one of when completed.
Fortunately for these Gulf countries, most of them have enough remaining oil wealth to finance these projects without having to apply for crippling loans from the World Bank (whose theme is a “world free of poverty”) or other financial institutions.
These countries are also acutely aware that they need to wean themselves off dependence on petroleum for both their livelihood and primary energy source; for they are aware of the reality that in regards to oil, it won’t last forever.
Photo via Financial Times: www.ft.com