Bahrain, a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf, has lagged behind other Gulf region countries in developing its clean energy sector. But the ministry of electricity and water affairs is looking to change all of that with the announcement of a new solar energy project in the capital, Manama. The hope is that the new project will be a watershed for the small Gulf Kingdom, an archipelago of 33 islands, to begin to establish alternative energy as a key driver of the country’s energy sector.
While still in its development stage, the project in the Awali Township aims to produce 5MW of power from the utility-scale photovoltaic solar facility.
Minister of State for Electricity and Water Affairs Abdul Hussein Ali Mirza said in recent comments that “following a successful implementation of this pilot project, we expect other projects to follow in the near future. Through strategic alliances with technologically advanced partners, NOGA aims to diversify the energy supply sources that will help achieve the goals of Bahrain Vision 2030.”
The facility is being devevloped as a joint venture with the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA), the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO), Caspian Energy Holdings and Petra Solar.
According to reports and the ministry, it is the region’s first tendered utility-scale solar project.
The overall cost and an expected completion date have yet to be announced by the ministry, but they believe they are pushing a new industry in the country that can propel the energy sector in new directions.
Minister Mirza’s office told Green Prophet that they are “excited” about the movement on alternative energy sources and hope that “Bahrain will continue to see the positive nature of solar and wind energy.”
It is all part of Bahrain Vision 2030, an ambitious project that aims to see the country reach between five and 7 percent energy from renewables by 2030. While seen as a solid move in the direction of clean technology and energy development, the government has largely failed to address cost-effectiveness in the program, which has many questioning how the country will make inroads into the renewables sector.
Experts have warned that efforts in Bahrain to develop alternative sources of energy from oil are being hindered by continued subsidies on petroleum products and petrol, which stymies the potential need to develop the clean energy sector.
Still, the ministry believes that this initial solar project can show the government and energy experts that combining traditional energy output with renewables will be a boost to the country, both environmentally and economically.
Image of Bahrain hand flag and sun from Shutterstock