Gulf Arab countries are forging ahead with renewable projects despite an abundance of fossil fuels and the coronavirus pandemic.
Record-low tariffs and plans to reduce dependence on crude oil and natural gas as feedstock for power and energy-intensive water desalination plants are the main factors behind the rapid development of renewables in the region.
The renewable power sector was the only energy source to grow its share of the power market globally during the pandemic, while oil, natural gas and coal have all declined, IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera said in June. Even as oil prices slumped due to the pandemic, the share of renewables in the generation of electricity has grown in all parts of the world, he said.
The oil-rich Gulf region is among the areas benefiting most from the global appetite for renewables projects.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman are the four countries in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council that have developed renewables projects over the last few years. Bahrain and Kuwait also belong to the GCC.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is forecast to lead the push in the Middle East in the next few years, having launched several renewables projects, including its first wind farm, to free up crude burned in power plants for export.
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