Rapid Rise in Middle East Energy Use Presents New Concerns

Global energy use is on the rise, fueled by things like economic expansion, development and population growth. Along with rising energy use comes an inevitable increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the fossil fuels used to power growth and meet demand. Although the use of alternative forms of energy is on the rise, fossil fuels still supply roughly 90 percent of the world’s commercial energy. Energy consumption is already high in the developed world and the most rapid growth is occurring in developing countries, especially in places like China and India. Now a new region is getting recognized for its surprising increase in energy demand.

The Middle East has experienced a greater boom in its energy demand than any other region, according to GE reports. Energy use grew by around 80 percent in China and by comparison the countries of Oman, Qatar, Iran and Yemen each grew by over 90 percent. To clarify, none of the Middle Eastern countries consume nearly as much energy as either China or the U.S., but the Middle East’s rapid change is a key indicator in the world’s push to maximize efficiency and push for greater sustainability.

There is hope that the region of the Middle East might be able to meet its own growing demand in the future. Known primarily for its fossil fuel production and exportation, Middle Eastern energy producers are setting their sights on becoming world’s leading producers and exporters of renewable energy. Yes, you heard that correctly. Forecasts suggest that by 2050, up to half of the Middle East’s required energy will come from renewable sources, of which solar is expected to make up a large percentage.

Saudi Arabia has begun work on its first solar-powered desaliantion plant to serve 100,000 people in Al Khafji, located near the border of Kuwait. In Qatar, there are plans for a $1 billion solar project. Solar isn’t the only available resource, wind power is also a viable option. Syria’s target is for renewable energy to make up 4.3 percent of primary energy demand by next year and has two wind farms in planning, with two additional locations set to open soon.

Although companies like Suzlon Energy, India’s largest wind turbine maker, see great potential for wind power in places like Iran, Egypt, Morocco and Oman, there are still political and economic stumbling blocks. Regardless, this potential renewable resource pool is vital, since the carbon emissions of this region are among the highest in the world. To capitalize on this renewable potential, governments will need to set a legal framework for tariffs for wind farms and targets to cut emissions.

Cory Vanderpool joined EnOcean Alliance as the Business Development Director for North America. Prior to this role, she was Executive Director of GreenLink Alliance, a non profit organization dedicated to promoting energy conservation in buildings and tax incentives for building owners. Before establishing GreenLink, Cory worked in business development supporting a government contracting firm focused on civilian and defense markets. In addition to her work at EnOcean, Cory is also pursuing her PhD in Environmental Policy at George Mason University and is a part-time contributing writer at Triple Pundit.

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