Countries of the Middle East push towards renewable energy

Middle East's push toward renewable energy spurred by rising oil prices

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Do they know something that they are not telling us, many of which are oil producing countries?

There is a revolution sweeping the Middle East but this one has absolutely nothing to do with street uprisings or Twitter protests. It is a clean renewable energy upheaval with international implications that could transform the Arab world from North Africa to the Persian Gulf.

Solar plants are cropping up in Jordan and Morocco. Wind farms are being built in Egypt and Tunisia. Eight Arab nations and the Palestinian territories have a renewable energy target, and at least five more are taking serious steps to promote the domestic use of clean energy. Some of the most surprising movement is happening in oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and it is those movements that make me wonder as to whether they know something that they are not – openly – telling us.

Perhaps taking a page from Masdar, the famous carbon-zero city in the United Arab Emirates, these countries are spending their petrodollars on a budding number of their own alternative energy projects. And they are doing this because they are well aware of the fact that most of their oil is used up and they are about to run out of the black liquid gold.

Climate change, by all accounts, is not the primary driver for this, and has, to some degree very little to do with it at all. While rising global temperatures threaten to reduce the availability of scarce water and to raise food prices in the Middle East, analysts say that prospect is overshadowed by present realities of their main export: oil. Rising oil prices and growing energy demands mean depleting reserves. Thus, there is a new need to diversify, as soon there will be no more oil to sell.

Indeed, for some oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia, several experts even compared the growing interest in domestic renewable energy use to a "Don't get high off your own supply" crack-dealer ethic. But, in the case of Saudi Arabia it may also be a case of “oops, we are about to run on empty” and rumors may indeed be true that Saudi Arabia is just about to run “dry” in the not so distant future.

According to sources a complete movement for renewable energy is afoot in the Arab countries, and leading, to some degree, are the so-called oil-rich nations. The plans are for everything for solar, over wind, to geo-thermal plants, creating energy for home consumption and for export to neighboring countries.

Already in the 1940s ideas were being played with to e3rect huge solar cookers in the Sahara desert of North Africa to produce energy for export to Europe. The problem encountered then was the distance that the electrify would have to travel in wires and this problem, though, has not gone away.

It is, however, extremely interesting to observe the likes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to pursue renewable energy sources, and, though people might throw the “conspiracy theory” thing at me here, it might be an indicator for something that no one likes to tell the world about, namely the fact that we are running out of oil, in a sense.

This should at least give us some kind of warning signal, I would say, and a wake up call to consider the way that we are going and we must pursue the same road, namely one of renewable energy sources, for before long oil-based products will be unaffordable to the ordinary mortals.

Thus we need to work on transitioning now, not next week or next month, to a fossil fuel free future, for coal is also finite and if we are going to use that instead of oil then there will not much be left of that either in a few years time.

Scientists warned already at the close of the 19th century that we should not base our economies on fossil fuels and they kept reiterating such warning every since that day. Problem is that the fossil fuel lobby, coal and oil, were far too powerful and always in bed with our governments, and thus their warnings were not heeded and still to this very day everyone seems to be suffering from the ostrich syndrome.

But sticking the head in the sand, even the desert sand, is not going to make the problem go away. It will still be there when we surface for a breather and will have just gotten worse.

© 2011