The GCC is set to miss its target of generating 25GW of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, according to Abhay Bhargava, head of energy and power systems at business research and consulting firm, Frost and Sullivan. GCC governments are hoping that planned renewable energy projects will ease the region’s reliance on fossil fuels and help meet the projected increase in electricity demand in the coming years from 113GW in 2010 to 214GW by 2020.
The approximate figure of 25GW was reached by Frost and Sullivan from an aggregation of all planned renewable energy projects in the GCC, with Saudi hoping to produce 17GW by 2022; UAE, 1.63 GW; Kuwait, 2.7GW; Oman, 1.25GW; Qatar, 1GW; and Bahrain, 0.25GW.
Speaking at a media briefing at Frost and Sullivan’s offices in Dubai, Bhargava said, “In our opinion, 25GW is too stiff. It’s too tall a target and will probably not happen. This is going to be a best-case, highly optimistic scenario.”
“There is some movement going on [in terms of implementing renewable energy projects], but it’s just not sufficient in our opinion,” he added.
Bhargava cited six major reasons as to why achieving the target of 25GW by 2020 is “not going to happen”.
“Renewables are intermittent and that’s a fact. Storage is not yet commercialized and is not mainstream. Until you get storage that allows you to get a stable, constant flow of energy you will struggle,” Bhargava said.
The Frost and Sullivan analyst went on to highlight the cost of implementing these projects compared with continuing with existing methods of power generation as another factor.
An inadequate regulatory framework in the GCC was also identified as an obstacle, with Bhargava stating that there is not “one company or one organization per country that has been appointed with the sole agenda of developing renewables and that has a mandate from the Ministry of Energy.”
Continuing with his argument, Bhargava highlighted the continuing subsidized use of hydrocarbons as further evidence against the GCC achieving its 2020 target.
Irrelevant research and development (R&D) of renewable technology was then cited as a crucial impediment, with most R&D conducted in Europe without the harsh conditions of the Gulf region in mind, therefore making the technology created incapable of functioning in the GCC at a sufficient level.
Finally, the lack of a skilled workforce for implementation and maintenance of the GCC’s planned renewable projects will make them unworkable, according to Bhargava, as demand for such highly-skilled individuals will be at a global premium.
The research conducted by Frost and Sullivan also suggests that solar and wind energy will be the major growth sectors in renewable energy globally over the next decade, with solar growing 25-40% each year and wind growing by 16 to 20% each year.