WFES: scaling renewables in GCC will reap huge social and economic benefits, says IRENA

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Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries could reduce their carbon footprint by 8%, save 400 million barrels of oil, create 200,000 jobs and cut water use by 16% by 2030 if renewable energy is adopted in sufficient volumes to hit GCC targets, found an IRENA report presented today at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi.

The report, titled Renewable Energy Market Analysis: The GCC Region, found that the use of oil in the power sector of the region could fall by 25% if renewable energy targets are met, while the UAE specifically could reduce its water consumption by 50%.

“The GCC region has long been a global leader in energy production and can further strengthen this role through the development of its vast renewable energy sources,” said Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA’s director-general. “In doing so, the region can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save precious water resources, all while meeting its fast-growing energy needs sustainably

Economically and socially, Amin added, the GCC countries could reap the benefits of adopting a greater share of renewables, particularly solar PV and CSP, where the majority of jobs would be created, the report found.

“The economic and social rationale for the energy transition in the GCC region has never been stronger,” Amin said.

However, at an event held earlier in the week and hosted by the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), Tanzeed Alam, climate and energy director for the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF) called on the GCC to show more leadership in carbon reduction targets.

“There is a huge issue with the climate change action paradox, and this will have a huge impact in mankind’s ability to survive in the Middle East if action is not taken,” Alam said.

“The countries in the GCC need to develop national climate change policies designed transform economies to low carbon, accelerate economic diversification into renewables, identify peaking dates for carbon emissions in line with international best practice and set up carbon reduction targets for 2020, 2030 and beyond.”

Alam added that the words from the COP21 Paris Agreement will mean nothing if they are not translated into action.

Alex Kamerer of First Solar also spoke of how PV can help the GCC region to meet the rising demand for water in the region in a sustainable way. “Globally, the GCC region accounts for 40% of desalination activity every day,” he said. By installing PV in greater volumes – either to offset the energy used in desalination plants or installing directly onsite to generate the electricity required – the region can bring down its carbon footprint drastically, and cost-effectively.