Tag: Climate Change

Consequences of Climate Change in MENA

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Due to its unique geographical attributes, MENA is highly vulnerable to consequences of climate change. One of the main climate change impacts is sea level rise on coastal areas of MENA nations. This includes many of the large and small islands in the GCC region such as Kuwait, which are highly vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise. Inundation will adversely affect cities, roads, agricultural areas, as well as beaches and salt marshes in the MENA region.

Continued use of non-renewable water is major factor in depleting groundwater reserves in MENA region and puts regional countries at severe risk of climate impacts. Depletion of groundwater through urbanization has led to the loss of freshwater springs/aquifers. The GCC countries are heavily dependent on energy-intensive desalination plants for its freshwater supplies which is further driving up electricity demand.

The MENA region is highly vulnerable to tensions brought on by spike in food prices. Due to growing water crisis and desertification, the region is staring at a food crisis in the coming years. The region is grappling with the realization that its barren soil and dwindling water supply will be insufficient to feed the population, even with intensive irrigation and modern farming technology.

Lack of Seriousness

Unfortunately the level of seriousness that should have been shown by the regional governments is somewhat lacking. Climate change mitigation is not among the top priorities in most of the MENA countries.

There is lack of effective laws/regulations, absence of long-term climate action frameworks, weak coordination among different ministries and among regional governments and lack of public awareness.

The Way Forward

An efficient and effective environmental governance framework is essential for more productive and measurable interaction amongst various stakeholders and across key sectors. National, regional and international linkages within targeted sectors are essential to coordinate climate action in MENA.

Proactive involvement of public and private sectors, civil society organizations as well as research and academia in climate change mitigation is also a crucial issue. Environmental education will also go a long way in inculcating sustainable lifestyles and responsible behavior among local population and expatriates.

It is realistically possible that climate change will precipitate environmental degradation and drought-like conditions in MENA which will cause deterioration in livelihoods, and put pressure on populations to migrate en masse. Needless to say, Arabian Gulf is the most unsustainable region in the world. The craze for big cars and tall buildings coupled with apathy towards the environment and natural resources is pushing the region towards the worst-case scenario.

For more information, you may email the author Salman Zafar on salman@ecomena.org or salman@cleantechloops.com

Climate Change in Kuwait

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Kuwait is facing a wide range of climate change challenges including sea level rise, water scarcity, desertification and loss of diversity. Kuwait is characterized by high temperature, high humidity and arid lands resulting in seriously degraded soil and land damage in addition to salt intrusion in the aquifers affecting the small scale agricultural lands thus enhancing the food security threat in the region. Kuwait is also highly susceptible to climate change due to its total dependence on oil exports.

Since 1975, Kuwait has experienced 1.50C to 20C increase in temperature, which is significantly higher than the global average. In recent years, there has been a sharp change in rainfall pattern in Kuwait which may be attributed to climate change impacts.

The country used to experience 125mm of average rainfall each year which has now been replaced by sudden spells of rainfall and long intervals of dryness. In addition, there has been marked increase in sand and dust storms in last few decades which are noticeable signs of change in climatic conditions in Kuwait and neighbouring GCC nations.

Kuwait is both physically and biologically threatened by the global warming phenomenon. Over the next few decades, Kuwait could be potentially facing serious impacts of climate change in the form of floods, droughts, depletion of aquifers, inundation of coastal areas, frequent sandstorms, loss of biodiversity, significant damage to ecosystems, threat to agricultural production and outbreak of diseases.

There is an urgent need to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, and prepare a strong framework for socio-economic development which may be sustainable in the long-run.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

Renewable Energy Situation in Kuwait

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The renewable energy sector is in nascent stages in Kuwait, however there has been heightened activity in recent years mainly on account of the need for diversification of energy resources, climate change concerns and greater public awareness. The oil-rich State of Kuwait has embarked on a highly ambitious journey to meet 15 per cent of its energy requirements (approximately 2000 MW) from renewable resources by 2030.

One of the most promising developments is the kick-starting of the initial phase of 2GW Shagaya Renewable Energy Park in December last year. As per conservative estimates, more than $8 billion investment will have to be made to achieve renewable energy targets in Kuwait.

Renewable Energy Potential

In Kuwait, the predominant renewable energy resource is available in the form of solar and wind. The country has one of the highest solar irradiation levels in the world, estimated at 2100 – 2200 kW/m2 per year. The average insolation of 5.2 kWh/m2/day and maximum annual sun hours of around 9.2 hours daily makes Kuwait a very good destination for solar power plant developers.

Wind energy also has good potential in the country as the average wind speed is relatively good at around 5m/s in regions like Al-Wafra and Al-Taweel. Infact, Kuwait already has an existing 2.4MW Salmi Mini-windfarm, completed in 2013, which mainly serves telecommunication towers in remote areas and the fire brigade station in Salmi. As far as biomass energy is concerned, it has very limited scope in Kuwait due to arid climate and lack of water resources.

Kuwait Renewable Energy Program

Interestingly, Kuwait has been one of the earliest advocates of renewable energy in the Middle East with its involvement dating back to mid-1970s; however the sector is still in its early stages. The good news is that renewable energy has now started to move into development agenda and political discourse in Kuwait.

The Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) and the Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP) are playing an important role in Kuwait’s push towards low-carbon economy. KISR, in particular, has been mandated by the government to develop large-scale alternative energy systems in collaboration with international institutions and technology companies.

Kuwait’s renewable energy program, with the aim to generate 2GW renewable energy by 2030, has been divided into three stages. The first phase involves the construction of 70 MW integrated renewable energy park (solar PV, solar thermal and wind) at Shagaya which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016. The second and third phases are projected to produce 930 MW and 1,000 MW, respectively. The three phases will meet the electricity demand of 100,000 homes and save about 12.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per year on completion.

Role of KISR

The Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), founded in 1967, is one of the earliest research institutions in GCC to undertake commercial-scale research on potential applications and socio-economic benefits of renewable energy systems in Kuwait as well as GCC. Infact, KISR designed and operated a pilot-scale 100kW solar energy station in 1978.

Over the years, KISR has done extensive research, using experimental projects and economic modelling exercises, on deployment of solar energy, wind energy and renewables-powered desalination in Kuwait. KISR is playing a pivotal role in the conceptualization, R&D and development of renewable energy projects in Kuwait including the flagship venture of Shagaya Renewable Energy Park.

Shagaya Renewable Energy Park

Shagaya is to Kuwait as Masdar is to Abu Dhabi. Shagaya Renewable Energy Park comprises of solar thermal, solar photovoltaic and wind power systems, being built on a 100 km2 area in Shagaya, in a desert zone near Kuwait’s border with Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The $385 million first phase, scheduled to be operational by the end of 2016, will include 10MW of wind power, 10MW of solar PV, and 50MW of solar thermal systems. The project’s thermal energy storage system, based on molten salt, will have nine hours of storage capacity, one of the few projects worldwide with such a large capacity.

Shagaya Renewable Energy Park comprises of solar thermal, solar photovoltaic and wind power systems

Al-Abdaliyah Integrated Solar Project

Al-Abdaliyah ISCC Project is another promising solar venture which is currently at pre-qualification stage. To be built in the south-west of Kuwait, the plant will have a total capacity of 280 MW, out of which 60 MW will be contributed by solar thermal systems. The facility being developed under a build-operate-transfer scheme, under the supervision of Kuwait Authority for Public Partnerships, provides a 25-year concession backed by an energy conversion and power-purchase agreement with the government.

Parting Shot

The major force behind Kuwait’s renewables program is energy security and diversification of energy mix. The country has one of the world’s highest per capita consumption of energy which is growing with each passing year. Kuwait is heavily dependent on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) to run its power plant, which is a significant burden on its GDP.

In recent years, the MENA region has received some of the lowest renewable-energy prices awarded globally for both photovoltaic and wind power which seems to have convinced Kuwait to seriously explore the option of large-scale power generation from renewable resources. Needless to say, Kuwait has a long way to go before renewable energy can make a real impact in its national energy mix.

Another key driver for Kuwait’s transition to low-carbon economy is its carbon and ecological footprints, which is among the highest worldwide. Widespread use of renewable power will definitely help Kuwait in putting forward a ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ image in the region and beyond. Job creations, growth of private sector, development of green SMEs sector and heavy cleantech investment are among other important benefits. The business case for green energy proliferation in Kuwait is strengthened by widespread availability of solar and wind resources and tumbling costs of alternative energy systems.

With many projects in planning and development phases, Kuwait should now focus on implementing projects in a timely manner and also on developing a realistic renewable energy vision. The development of a renewable energy atlas and renewable energy framework are bound to attract more investments from local and foreign investors.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

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