The GCC energy sector has played and will continue to play an important role in the regional as well as global economy. The oil and gas sector is the largest economic sector in the region. In addition to satisfying energy needs for economic and social development, it is the source of oil and gas export revenues contributing to economic development. Regional countries are heavily dependent on oil and gas to meet their domestic energy demand. Oil contributes more than half of the total energy demand while the rest is contributed by natural gas.
Widespread use of fossil fuels has led to severe impact on the environment. High rate of population coupled with rapid industrialization has led to tremendous increase in energy demand which, in turn, is contributing to significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, the clamor for renewable energy has increased significantly in the GCC which may be attributed to concerns regarding global warming and depletion of fossil fuels. Regional countries whose environments are extremely intensive in terms of the carbon emissions and energy usage, like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have taken concrete steps and developed strategies to produce clean energy on large-scale to lower carbon footprint and foster sustainable development.
During the last few years, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have unveiled multi-billion dollar plans to Improve alternative energy scenario in their respective countries. The most notable example is the Masdar City of Abu Dhabi that has developed a holistic approach to tackle global warming and implement sustainable energy technologies. It will be a sustainable, zero-carbon and zero-waste modern urban habitat. The Masdar City strives to promote innovation and sustainable urban development in a modern cleantech cluster and free economic zone. Another important objective is to involve and support youngsters in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The world’s biggest oil-producer, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is also investing heavily in clean energy technologies to ensure a better future for the coming generation. One of the top priorities of the country is to harness the tremendous solar energy potential available across the country. Saudi Arabia’s interest in renewable energy is a big morale-booster for less-developed regional economies, like Jordan, Egypt and Morocco, to develop ambitious clean energy programs.
Large-scale investments and new sustainable development projects are expected to transform GCC into the ultimate destination for clean energy technologies which will not only lower carbon footprint of the region but also reduce the cost of solar, wind and other renewable energy systems. The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. The region is now gearing up to meet the challenge of global warming with the rapid growth of the renewable energy sector.
Mass deployment of renewable energy systems is a necessity in the GCC as the region is grappling with environmental issues like industrial pollution, water-scarcity and unsustainable energy consumption. A successful transition from fossil fuel-based economy to one dependent on renewable energy resources will usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and security in the entire Middle East.