Energy is a key enabler of a country’s or a region’s economic development. But the increased reliance on carbon-emitting sources such as fossil fuels and others has made the energy industry a significant contributor to environmental impacts of the economy. Since most countries have adopted the Paris Agreement, efforts to contribute to a low-carbon community are gaining pace. The middle east region is expected to emerge as a key player and facilitate the sustainable development of energy systems and carbon emission reduction goals.
Considering the World Bank report, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region contributes about 7 percent of the total annual 32 Gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2). As the Gulf has the largest emission footprint in the world, most MENA countries have a gas emissions footprint below the world average. Despite this, the region is under severe heat and water stress with little effort for adaptability.
In the Middle East, countries, particularly Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE, nearly account for 76 percent of the region’s energy-related emissions and 77 percent of total energy consumption.
Middle East Sustainable Energy Trends
In the last few years, the population burst has significantly propelled energy demand across the economies in the Middle East. To fulfill every citizens’ needs and support economic activities, many countries in the region rely on fossil fuels. However, progressive governments in the region are now expediting investments in renewable energy including solar and waste to energy. According to the Middle East Solar Industry Association, MENA countries could witness combined investments of up to US$1 trillion during 2019-2023. This investment will help explore alternative energy sources that are more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Furthermore, a recently published report by Frost and Sullivan revealed that the renewable energy market in the Middle East will increase 18 times from solar and wind energy by 2025. Countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, and Lebanon, will invest US$182.3 billion to add up to 57GW of capacity by the projected year. This will substantially accelerate a shift from carbon-emission energy sources to green and sustainable energy systems to achieve an entirely sustainable program.
Last year, the Middle East Energy Dubai trade event at Dubai World Trade Centre emphasized the need for investment of US$109 billion in power infrastructure required in the region over the next five years. This event was of utmost importance for India as the country’s export to the UAE was a provisional US$24.27 billion in FY20. As per the report, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) signed an investment agreement of US$1 billion with a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in November 2017, to invest in energy, transportation and other infrastructure sectors in India.
The Middle East region has also set clean energy goals to accomplish sustainability in the region. The UAE government, for instance, intends to invest US$163.3 billion by 2050 to meet growing energy demand and ensure sustainable growth for the country’s economy. The Saudi Arabia government has also set a clean energy target of 58.7GW by 2030, as the energy consumption in the country is estimated to rise threefold from current levels by 2030.