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GCC goes green: What’s the region’s plan for renewables?

In the next two decades, the population in the Middle East region will grow at a rate faster than the power demand, meaning countries will need to ramp up power generation and look at green innovative solutions to handle their energy needs, reveals a recent report.

The report, titled Middle East Power: Outlook 2035 and produced by global technology giant Siemens, notes: “Power demand in the region is expected to grow by 3.3 percent each year until 2035, while populations are increasing at an even faster rate. Some countries such as Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have a 3.5 percent population growth rate.”

It continues: “With this growing demand, IHS expects that the Middle East will need 277 gigawatts ( GW) of additional capacity to boost installed capacity to 483 GW by 2035.”

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Renewables to the rescue

“The Middle East is a growing region for power generation and will require additional capacity to meet its economic ambitions and the needs of its people,” says Dietmar Siersdorfer, CEO, Siemens Middle East and UAE. “There is no doubt that renewable sources of energy, especially solar, will play a major part in its future power mix.”

Meanwhile, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, notes: “Energy efficiency will arguably be one of the most important renewable energy technologies of the future. As renewables increase their share of the energy mix, power is evolving into a technology business, less one based on commodities.”

“There is no question that the Middle East will be at the heart of the transformation taking place. It has one of the world’s youngest populations, some of its fastest-growing economies, and its electricity demand is rising,” he continues. “An estimated 83 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity alone will be added to the region’s energy mix by 2035.”

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GCC goes green

A January 2018 paper, titled Renewable Energy in the Middle East and produced by the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, reveals that the total power capacity of the GCC has grown from just under 50 GW in 2011 to approximately 277 GW in 2016.

“Gulf countries have realized they can reduce their carbon footprint while increasing their ability to generate cash from exports of crude oil and natural gas if they can establish a sizable local supply of renewable energy,” notes the report’s author, Jean-François Seznec, a nonresident senior fellow in the Global Energy Center.

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Saudi Arabia

The kingdom has a National Renewable Energy Plan (NREP) that aims to develop 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023 and having at least 3.45 GW of installed capacity by 2020.

The report reveals: “The country’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (Repo) and the Ministry of Energy has issued a request for proposals for a 4,000 MW wind farm to be built at Dumat al-Jandal in the northern Al-Jawf region.”


The Atlantic Council study notes that the UAE is in the lead when it comes to renewables. “The UAE’s current renewable capacity is 139.9 MW, comprised of 100 MW solar CSP, 38 MW solar PV, 0.9 MW onshore wind, and 1.0 MW of biogas. Under its Energy Plan for 2050, the UAE intends that renewables will account for 44 percent of total generating capacity by 2050,” the report reads.

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The GCC member state has currently 40.5 MW of renewable capacity, made up of 30.5 MW from solar PV and the remaining from the wind. However, it aims to double its renewable generation by 2030 with the goal of having 15 percent of the total electricity generated from renewable sources.


Bahrain currently has 5.9 MW of renewable capacity, which is mainly 5.2 MW from solar PV and 0.7 MW of onshore wind. The country’s National Renewable Energy Plan (NREAP) aims to generate five percent of energy from renewable sources in 2025, ramping it up to ten percent by 2035.


Oman’s installed renewable capacity currently is quite small, comprising only 0.7 MW of installed solar PV as at the end of 2016. However, its Rural Areas Electricity Company (Raeco) has plans of developing 90 MW of wind and solar capacity by 2020.

This article was contributed by Karthik Subramanian