Biogas from Animal Wastes

The Middle East and North Africa region has a strong animal population. The livestock sector, in particular sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in the national economy of regional countries. Millions of animals are imported in MENA each year from around the world. In addition, the region has witnessed very rapid growth in the poultry sector. 

Animal Waste Management

Animal waste is a valuable source of nutrients and renewable energy. However, most of the waste is collected in lagoons or left to decompose in the open which pose a significant environmental hazard. The air pollutants emitted from manure include methane, nitrous oxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter, which can cause serious environmental concerns and health problems. 

In the past, livestock waste was recovered and sold as a fertilizer or simply spread onto agricultural land. The introduction of tighter environmental controls on odour and water pollution means that some form of waste management is necessary, which provides further incentives for biomass-to-energy conversion. The biogas potential of animal manure can be harnessed both at small- and community-scale.

Anaerobic Digestion Process

Anaerobic digestion is a unique treatment solution for animal wastes as it can  deliver  positive  benefits  related  to  multiple  issues,  including  renewable  energy,  water pollution, and air emissions. Anaerobic digestion of animal manure is gaining popularity as a means to protect the environment and to recycle materials efficiently into the farming systems. Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plants, based on anaerobic digestion of cow manure, are highly efficient in harnessing the untapped renewable energy potential of organic waste by converting the biodegradable fraction of the waste into high calorific gases.

The establishment of anaerobic digestion systems for livestock manure stabilization and energy production has accelerated substantially in the past several years. There are thousands of digesters operating at commercial livestock facilities in Europe, United States, Asia and elsewhere. which are generating clean energy and fuel. Many of the projects that generate electricity also capture waste heat for various in-house requirements. Biogas projects based on animal waste play a key role in rural development in developing countries.

Major Considerations

The main factors that influence biogas production from livestock manure are pH and temperature of the feedstock. It is well established that a biogas plant works optimally at neutral pH level and mesophilic temperature of around 35o C. Carbon-nitrogen ratio of the feed material is also an important factor and should be in the range of 20:1 to 30:1.

Animal manure has a carbon – nitrogen ratio of 25:1 and is considered ideal for maximum gas production. Solid concentration in the feed material is also crucial to ensure sufficient gas production, as well as easy mixing and handling. Hydraulic retention time (HRT) is the most important factor in determining the volume of the digester which in turn determines the cost of the plant; the larger the retention period, higher the construction cost.

Process Description

The fresh animal manure is stored in a collection tank before its processing to the homogenization tank which is equipped with a mixer to facilitate homogenization of the waste stream. The uniformly mixed waste is passed through a macerator to obtain uniform particle size of 5-10 mm and pumped into suitable-capacity anaerobic digesters where stabilization of organic waste takes place.

In anaerobic digestion, organic material is converted to biogas by a series of bacteria groups into methane and carbon dioxide. The majority of commercially operating digesters are plug flow and complete-mix reactors operating at mesophilic temperatures. The type of digester used varies with the consistency and solids content of the feedstock, with capital investment factors and with the primary purpose of digestion.

Biogas contain significant amount of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas which needs to be stripped off due to its highly corrosive nature. The removal of H2S takes place in a biological desulphurization unit in which a limited quantity of air is added to biogas in the presence of specialized aerobic bacteria which oxidizes H2S into elemental sulfur.

Biogas can be used as domestic cooking, industrial heating, combined heat and power (CHP) generation as well as a vehicle fuel. The digested substrate is passed through screw presses for dewatering and then subjected to solar drying and conditioning to give high-quality organic fertilizer.

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Role of CSP in South Africa’s Power Sector

Demand for electricity in South Africa has increased progressively over several years and the grid now faces supply and demand challenges. As a result, the Department of Energy has implemented a new Integrated Resource Plan to enhance renewable energy generation capacity and promote energy efficiency. Solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) are set to be the main beneficiaries from the new plan having their initial allocation raised considerably.

Daily power demand in South Africa has a morning and evening peak, both in summer and winter. This characteristic makes CSP with storage a very attractive technology for generating electricity on a large scale compared to PV, which currently can provide electricity at a cheaper price, but its capability to match the demand is limited to the morning demand peak.

As experts highlight, CSP is the only renewable technology that provides dispatchable electricity that adapts to the demand curve, though at a higher price than PV. However, the government in South Africa has recognized the flexibility that it offers to the grid (matching the demand and stabilizing the system) over the levelised cost of energy (LCOE), and announced a bid window in March 2014 solely for CSP, where 200 MW are to be allocated.

CSP’s operational flexibility allows the plant to be run in a conventional mode at maximum power output, store the excess energy and use the full load once the sun starts setting. Another option is to adapt the production to the demand, reducing the load during the central hours of the day where PV can provide cheaper electricity, and shift that energy to generate at later hours without requiring a large storage system.

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Ecotourism in the Middle East


Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing segments in the global tourism industry and the Middle East is no exception. The ecotourism industry, catalyzed by advancements in transportation and information technology, has brought hitherto unknown geographical landscapes into public limelight, thus bringing tourists to pristine natural locations across the Middle East.

Middle East has also been witnessing growing popularity of ecotourism among native and expatriate populations. Some of the Middle East nations popular with ecotourists include Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Oman and Tunisia. Due to its sunny climate, unique landscape, distinct culture and rich history, the region offers wealth of opportunities for eco-tourists including but not limited to vast deserts, special flora and fauna, exotic animal species and stunning beaches.

In recent years, there has been significant increase in the number of eco-retreats in countries like UAE, Qatar and Oman. Local tourists are showing keen interest in staying at resorts that focus on environmentally-responsible and sustainable practices. In addition, tourists from the region, especially families, are traveling to far-off places, such as Southeast Asia and Cyprus, for nature-based activities like snorkeling, kayaking, trekking and bird-watching which is a welcome sign for the ecotourism industry.

Jordan – A Role Model

Jordan has been one of the earliest pioneers of ecotourism in the Middle East. The country has acknowledged ecotourism as a key cluster that can mainstream economic and social development within environmental protection. Jordan has 10 natural reserves that provide tourists with exceptional experience in enjoying nature and helping communities.

Middle East offers attractive opportunities for ecotourists

The Jordanian experience in ecotourism has gained global recognition and became a model for partnerships between the government, NGOs and local communities. Infact, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) has reported that its ecotourism projects in 2015 generated more than USD 2 million, when 175,000 people visited the nature reserves, 65 per cent of whom were foreigners.

Key Enablers

For ecotourism to flourish and achieve its development vision in the Middle East, several enablers need to be in place. “Governments, private sector and international agencies would need to work together to provide a conducive legal and regulatory framework, access to land, financing instruments, local human and institutional capacity development, attractive investment climate as well as convenient and affordable transportation”, explains Ruba Al-Zu’bi, Scientific Research Director at Shoman Foundation. “In addition, enabling more local innovation and social entrepreneurship would really be the added value to sustain the future of ecotourism in the region”, she adds.

Exaggerated extravagance is another key issue that needs to be addressed by stakeholders in eco-tourism industry in the Middle East. “I think elegant architecture and interior furnishings are perfectly acceptable elements of an ecotourism attraction, and usually the locals do it best, but there is a tendency in the Middle East to be excessively flashy which may be discouraging to nature tourists”, says Tafline Laylin, an environmental journalist and travel writer.

Carbon Market in the Middle East

The Middle East and North Africa region is highly susceptible to climate change, on account of its water scarcity, high dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture, concentration of population and economic activity in urban coastal zones, and the presence of conflict-affected areas. Moreover, the region is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions on account of its thriving oil and gas industry.
The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. Not surprisingly, the carbon emissions from UAE are approximately 55 tons per capita, which is more than double the US per capita footprint of 22 tons per year. The MENA region is now gearing up to meet the challenge of global warming, as with the rapid growth of the carbon market. During the last few years, many MENA countries, like UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have unveiled multi-billion dollar investment plans in the cleantech sector to portray a ‘green’ image.
There is an urgent need to foster sustainable energy systems, diversify energy sources, and implement energy efficiency measures. The clean development mechanism (CDM), under the Kyoto Protocol, is one of the most important tools to support renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives in the MENA countries. Some MENA countries have already launched ambitious sustainable energy programs while others are beginning to recognize the need to adopt improved standards of energy efficiency.
Among regional countries, the United Arab Emirates has launched several ambitious governmental initiatives aimed at reducing emissions by approximately 40 percent. Masdar, a $15 billion future energy company, will leverage the funds to produce a clean energy portfolio, which will then invest in clean energy technology across the Middle East and North African region. Egypt is the regional CDM leader with twelve projects in the UNFCCC pipeline and many more in the conceptualization phase.
CDM Prospects in MENA
The MENA region is an attractive CDM destination as it is rich in renewable energy resources and has a robust oil and gas industry. Surprisingly, very few CDM projects are taking place in MENA countries with only 23 CDM projects have been registered to date. The region accounts for only 1.5 percent of global CDM projects and only two percent of emission reduction credits.
The two main challenges facing many of these projects are: weak capacity in most MENA countries for identifying, developing and implementing carbon finance projects and securing underlying finance. Currently, there are several CDM projects in progress in Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Morocco, UAE and Tunisia. Many companies and consulting firms have begun to explore this now fast-developing field. 
The Al-Shaheen project is the first of its kind in the region and third CDM project in the petroleum industry worldwide. The Al-Shaheen oilfield has flared the associated gas since the oilfield began operations in 1994. The project activity is expected to reduce GHGs emissions by approximately 2.5 million tCO2 per year and approximately 17 million tCO2 during the initial seven-year crediting period.
Potential CDM projects that can be implemented in the region may come from varied areas like sustainable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, landfill gas capture, industrial processes, biogas technology and carbon flaring. For example, the energy efficiency CDM projects in the oil and gas industry, can save millions of dollars and reduce tons of CO2 emissions. In addition, renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, holds great potential for the region, similar to biomass in Asia.

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Smart Grid – Key to Managing Energy Demand in Saudi Arabia

Electricity consumption in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been climbing steadily for the past few decades. Saudi electricity market is growing at an accelerating rate due to higher consumption rates in the private, commercial and industrial sectors. Current domestic energy consuming behaviors pose inescapable fatal consequences that affect both the Kingdom’s production and export levels. Therefore, an urgent action is needed to curb the increasing electricity demand and promote energy conservation in the country. Smart grid is a dynamic solution which can bridge the gap between the current supply and increasing demand in Saudi Arabia.

What is Smart Grid?

A smart grid network makes for the ideal bridge where the goals of modernization can meet those of a reliable public infrastructure. Smart grid is a computerized technology, based on remote control network, aiming to completely alter the existing electric infrastructure and modernize the national power grid. This is through empowering the demand response which alerts consumers to reduce energy use at peak times.

Moreover, demand response prevents blackouts, increases energy efficiency measures and contributes to resource conservation and help consumers to save money on their energy bills. Smart grid technology represents an advanced system enabling two way communications between energy provider and end users to reduce cost save energy and increase efficiency and reliability.

Advantages of Smart Grid

The beauty of adapting this technology will spread to not only utility but to all utility users including consumers and government.

Active Role of Consumers

The beauty of smart grid is that it provides consumers with the ability to play an active role in the country’s electricity grid. This is through a regulated price system where the electricity rate differs according to peak hours and consequently consumers cut down their energy use at those high stress times on the grid. Thus, smart grid offers consumers more choices over their energy use needs. 

Upgrading the Existing Grid

Utilities benefit from improving the grid’s power quality and reliability as mentioned through an integrated communication system with end users with more control over energy use. This is through decreasing services rates and eliminating any unnecessary energy loss in the network. Thus, all these positive advantages will make smart grid technology a smart and efficient tool for utilities.

Contribution to Energy Efficiency

The government of Saudi Arabia is already taking bold steps to adapt new energy efficiency standards as a national plan to reduce domestic energy consumption. For that, adapting and deploying smart grid will enable the kingdom to modernize the national grid. With the time the government will build efficient and informed consumers as a backbone in its current energy policy. Moreover, this advanced technology will help with electricity reduction targets and contribute to lowering the carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, this is a great opportunity for the kingdom to mitigate with the climate change measures.

A Dynamic Approach

Adoption of smart grid systems will help Saudi Arabia in increasing the efficiency of utilities as well as improving the ability of consumers to control their daily energy use. Smart grid technology offers a unique engagement that benefits consumers, utilities and government to become part of the solution. In addition, a smart grid technology is a viable option to enhance the value people receive from the national grid system. This smart transition will give the Saudi government a policy option to reduce drastically its domestic energy use, leveraging new technology through empowering the role of consumers’ active participants on the country’s grid.

As peak electricity demand grows across the country, it is important for KSA to make large-scale investment in smart grid solutions and renewable energy systems, especially solar, to improve energy efficiency and manage increasing energy demand. Undoubtedly, smart grid is more intelligent, versatile, decentralized, secure, resilient and controllable than conventional grid. However, to reap the benefits of smart grid systems, utilities in Saudi Arabia need to make major changes in their infrastructure and revolutionize the manner in which business is conducted.

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Wastewater Treatment Process and its Benefits

With water shortages plaguing the world, water scarcity has become one of the largest threats facing society today, making it one of the UN’s main millennium development goals. Therefore governments have begun to develop new projects and technologies to mitigate its effects on the world. Such projects and technologies include rain harvesting, water location transfers, desalination, and wastewater treatment. Unlike the rest, wastewater treatment presents a sustainable short-term and long-term solution to water scarcity. Wastewater is the water used by residences and commercial/industrial establishments that has become too polluted for further use. The combination between these different types of wastewater causes the resulting wastewater mix to contain both suspended and dissolved organic and inorganic substances such as carbohydrates, fats, soaps, synthetic detergents, as well as various natural and synthetic organic chemicals.

Wastewater Treatment Process

The treatment process must be divided into different treatment stages to ensure good water and sanitation quality. The preliminary stage of the treatment process uses large filtering screens that remove large solid inorganic material such as paper, plastic, and metal. This is followed by the removal of the grit and silt which are abrasive to plant equipment. In the primary stage, wastewater is passed through a primary sedimentation tank where solid particles of organic material are removed by gravity settling at the bottom of the tank. The resultant primary sludge is then raked to the center of the tank where it is concentrated and pumped away for further treatment.

The wastewater then undergoes a biological process known as activated sludge process, which uses natural occurring micro-organisms to break down dissolved and suspended organic solids. The settled wastewater then enters aeration tanks where air is blown into the waterto provide oxygen promoting the growth of microorganisms. These microorganisms then consume the organic pollutants and nutrients in the wastewater. From the aeration tanks the mixture of wastewater and microorganisms is moved to a secondary sedimentation tank where the biomass settles to the bottom of the tank and is concentrated as sludge.

The clarified wastewater is then passed into a tank where the third stage of treatment, known as the Tertiary treatment stage, takes place. In this stage Chlorineis used to remove any biological pathogens present in the clarified wastewater that could be a risk to human health. In some instances this treatment is repeated more than once if the treated wastewater is reused for purposes such as irrigation of food crops or where close human contact may result. After all these treatment processes are complete, fresh water is produced.


The water treatment process does not only produce clean reusable water, but also has the potential to produce various other benefits. It has the potential to reduce a country’s waste production, to produce energy through methane harvesting, and the potential to produce natural fertilizer from the waste collected through the process. Below is a more detailed explanation of these benefits:

Waste Reduction

Through the treatment of wastewater, the amount of waste that is usually released into the environment is reduced thus improving environment’s health. By doing so, the government in turn reduces the health risks associated with environmental pollution, and reduces the water loss induced through water pollution. Wastewater treatment also reduces the amount of money spent by a country on environmental rehabilitation projects required to battle pollution.

Energy Production

The sludge collected during the treatment process is itself treated because it contains a large amount of biodegradable material. It is treated with anaerobic bacteria in special fully enclosed digesters heated to 35 degrees Celsius, an area where these anaerobic microorganisms thrive without any oxygen. The gas produced during this anaerobic process contains a large amount of methane, which is harvested and then burned to generate electricity.

This energy can be used to power the wastewater treatment plants making them self-sustainable, andif there happens to be an excess of energy produced, it could be transported into a country’s national grid. This helps lower the reliance on non-renewable energy sourcessuch as fossil fuels, reducing a country’s carbon footprint and a country’s expenditure on energy production. An example of this system being used within the Middle East can be found in al-Samra wastewater treatment plants in Jordan. According to government officials the plant produces 40% of the energy it requires through burning the methane produced by the treatment process.

Fertilizer Production

Any biodegradable material remaining is dried in “drying lagoons” and is then turned into natural fertilizer. The resulting natural fertilizer is then used in the agricultural sector, increasing crop yields. This decreases the use of chemical fertilizers that pollute the surrounding marine and surface ecosystems.


In summary, the combination of these benefits along with water production makes wastewater treatment a sustainable short and long-term solution to the world’s water crisis, which will only increase as the world population increases. It is estimated that the world’s population is set to increase to 9 billion people, and this would cause an increase in the amount of water that can be treated. This will cause the production of large amounts of fresh usable water, thus helping battle water scarcity. 

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Role of Artificial Intelligence in Environmental Sustainability

In recent years, the environmental issues have triggered debates, discussions, awareness programs and public outrage that have catapulted interest in new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence finds application in a wide array of environmental sectors, including resource conservation, wildlife protection, energy management, clean energy, waste management, pollution control and agriculture.

Artificial Intelligence (also known as AI) is considered to be the biggest game-changer in the global economy. With its gradual increase in scope and application, it is estimated that by 2030, AI will contribute up to 15.7 trillion of the global economy which is more than the current output of China and India combined. The UN Artificial Intelligence Summit held in Geneva (2017) identified that AI has the potential to accelerate progress towards a dignified life, in peace and prosperity, for all people and have suggested to refocus the use of this technology, that is responsible for self-driving cars and voice/face recognition smart phones, on sustainable development and assisting global efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger, and to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.

Multitude of AI Applications

Many organizations like Microsoft, Google and Tesla, whilst pushing the boundaries for human innovations, have made considerable efforts in developing ‘Earth Friendly’ AI systems. For instance, Google’s very own DeepMind AI has helped the organization to curb their data center energy usage by 40 percent making them more energy efficient and reducing overall GHG emissions. As data centers alone consume 3 percent of global energy each year, development of such AI’s not only improve the energy efficiency but also assist in providing energy access to remote communities, setting up microgrids and integrating renewable energy resources.

Installation of smart grids in cities can utilize artificial intelligence techniques to regulate and control parts of neighborhood power grid to deliver exactly the amount of electricity needed, or requested from its dependents, against the use of conventional power grids that can be wasteful due to unplanned power distribution. With AI-driven autonomous vehicles waiting to break into the automobile market, techniques like route optimization, eco-driving algorithms and ride-sharing services would help in streamlining the carbon footprint and reducing the overall number of vehicles on the road.

Viewed on a macro scale, the emergence of smart buildings and the smart cities in which they are built can leverage built-in sensors to use energy efficiently, and buildings and roads will also be constructed out of materials that work more intelligently. Taking a nod from natural patterns, material scientists and architects have developed innovative building materials from natural resources, such as bricks made of bacteria, cement that captures carbon dioxide, and cooling systems that use wind and sun. Solar power is increasingly present within cities and outside to supply larger urban area. These are the first early steps towards sustainable infrastructure cutting costs and helping to make us environmentally conscious.

Controlling industrial emissions and waste management is another challenge that can be dealt with the advanced learning machines and smart networks that could detect leaks, potential hazards and diversions from industrial standards and governmental regulations. For example, IoT technology was incorporated into several industrial ventures, from refrigerators and thermostats and even retail shops.

As scientists still struggle to predict climate changes and other potential environmental hurdles or bottlenecks due to lack of algorithms for converting the collected useful data into required solutions, Microsoft’s AI for Earth, a 50 million dollar initiative, was announced in 2017 with the sole purpose to find solutions to various challenges related to climatic changes, agriculture, water and biodiversity.

Other similar AI infused Earth applications are iNaturalist and eBirds that collect data from its vast circle of experts on the species encountered, which would help to keep track of their population, favorable eco systems and migration patterns. These applications have also played a significant role in the better identification and protection of fresh water and marine ecosystems.

There are various institutions, NGOs and start-ups that work to deliver smart agricultural solutions by implementing fuzzy neural networks. Besides the use of both artificial and bio-sensor driven algorithms to provide a complete monitoring of the soil and crop yield, there are technologies that can used to provide predictive analytic models to track and predict various factors and variables that could affect future yields.

Berlin-based agricultural tech startup PEAT has developed a deep learning application called Plantix that reportedly identifies potential defects and nutrient deficiencies in soil. Analysis is conducted by software algorithms which correlate particular foliage patterns with certain soil defects, plant pests and diseases.

Artificial Intelligence can provide invaluable assistance in environment protection and resource conservation

AWhere and FarmShots, both United States based companies use machine learning algorithms in connection with satellites to predict weather, analyze crop sustainability and evaluate farms for the presence of diseases and pests. Adaptive irrigation systems in which the land is automatically irrigated based on the data collected from the soil via sensors by an AI system is also gaining wide popularity among the farmers for its important role in water management.

Developments in the Middle East

As more countries drastically shift towards the use of AI and other advanced technologies, this enormous wave has hit the Middle East region too. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have shown a promising commitment towards the development and implementation of technologies like information technology and digital transformation, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare sector and to provide citizens with knowledge and skills to meet the future needs of the labor market.

By 2030, the Middle East countries are expected to be one of the major players in this field as the volatility of oil prices have forced the economy to look for new sources for revenue and growth. With numerous untapped markets and sectors, the future investments in AI in the MENA region are estimated to contribute to around 15 per cent of their combined GDP. It can also be expected that with this rapid growth, the Governments will also consider a much more aggressive approach towards using these technologies for putting together an effective model for environmental sustainability.

With many countries in the Middle East strongly committed to protect the  aquatic diversity of its surrounding waters, an intelligent tracking system could help to prevent overfishing and contamination, and implement much more effective aquaculture techniques, innovations in sea farming and better utilization and protection of freshwater resources.

Future Outlook

Researchers and scientists must ensure that the data provided through Artificial Intelligence systems are transparent, fair and trustworthy. With an increasing demand of automation solutions and higher precision data-study for environment related problems and challenges, more multinational companies, educational institutions and government sectors need to fund more R&D of such technologies and provide proper standardizations for producing and applying them.

In addition, there is a necessity to bring in more technologists and developers to this technology. Artificial intelligence is steadily becoming a part in our daily lives, and its impact can be seen through the advancements made in the field of environmental sciences and environmental management.

The Promise of Bioremediation

bioremediation-petroleumEcosystems are permanently challenged with the abundant release of toxic compounds into the environment due to a wide range of anthropogenic activities. Apparently, contamination with oil spills and oily waste disposal are a major global concern since it’s extensively damaging the biodiversity, threatening the public health and has severe ecological and socioeconomic consequences. For example, in 1989, thousands metric tons spell of crude oil in Alaska, led to a massive loss in the marine life as well as several long-term environmental impact. Minor oil spills and non-point oil contamination are no less threats to public health, biodiversity and environment.

Awareness of this reality united the international efforts in searching for effective environmental cleaning-up measurements. Environmental cleanup is an extremely challenging task, as many pollutants are difficult to remove or transform into non-toxic products. Generally, the first response option is conventional methods, such as physical removal; however, they rarely achieve complete cleanup of oil spills since the current physical methods recover only up to 15% of the oil after a major spill; hence, more fundamental approaches are needed.

The focus has been shifted towards the biological methods, such as bioremediation, which are efficient, environmentally sustainable, and socio-economically acceptable than other methods. Bioremediation has been used by human since the ancient time; farmers have relied on composting to decompose solid waste resulted from animals and plants. As a new biotechnology; bioremediation has been investigated since the 1940s, it is a process attempts to accelerate natural biodegradation processes; by definition; bioremediation is a biotechnology of using living organisms, mainly microorganisms’ metabolic activities, to degrade the environmental contaminants into less toxic forms. It uses biological agents such as bacteria, fungi or plants to degrade or neutralize hazardous pollutants.

Types of Bioremediation

Generally, bioremediation processes have been classified into two main categories: in situ and ex situ. In situ bioremediation involves on-site removal of contaminant, while ex situ involves mining of contaminated soil or pumping of groundwater to treat it elsewhere. In situ remediation techniques include bioventing, bioslurping, biosparging and phytoremediation.

Ex situ is useful for the remediation of polluted soils with high concentration of recalcitrant contaminants, such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and oily sludge’s. Ex situ bioremediation techniques include landfarming, biopiling, and bioreactors processing .One of the most important types of ex situ technique is Slurry bioreactors. Treatment of soils and sediments in slurry bioreactors has become one of the best options for the bioremediation of soils polluted by recalcitrant pollutants under controlled environmental conditions.

Microbial Bioremediation

Biodiversity is one of the Earth’s greatest treasures. Microbes represent the most diverse living organisms on earth. The ecosystems microbiota plays a major role in enormous physiological versatility and biogeochemical cycling processes. It is well recognized that the microorganisms play a fundamental role in toxic materials breaking down; they play as scavengers of undesired molecules in the environment.

With the advances in microbiology, biologists are recruiting the earth’s tiniest living creatures for cleaning up and reclamation of oil highly polluted ecosystems. It has been known for around 80 years that certain microbes are able to degrade petroleum compounds and use them as a source of carbon and energy for growth. Unquestionably, microbes represent a promising and untapped resource for new environmental biotechnologies.

Environmental variables can greatly affect the rate and extent of bioremediation. Both chemical and physical characteristics of the oil are important determinants of bioremediation success. One important required factor is the presence of microbes with the appropriate metabolic capabilities. The microbes can be either indigenous to a contaminated area (Biostimulation) or isolated from then brought to the contaminated site (Bioaugmentation). If these microorganisms are present, then maintaining the best rates of pollutant`s biodegradation can be achieved by ensuring that sufficient concentrations of nutrients, moisture and oxygen are present. Other variables, such as salinity, are not usually controllable.

Petroleum compounds in the environment are biodegraded mainly by bacteria, fungi, yeast and Archaea. Not all microbes are able to “mop up” all types of oil spills. Bacteria including Pseudomonas and Rhodococcus species work as primary degraders of spilled oil in the environment. Some Fungal genera proved to be the potential organisms for hydrocarbon degradation; Fungus such as Phanaerochaete chrysosporium is able to degrade an extremely diverse variety of toxic environmental pollutants.

Microbial bioremediation is used to treat oil spills in seas and on beaches.

The yeast species including Candida lipolytica isolated from contaminated sites were noted to degrade oil compounds. For Archaea, the studies showed that archaeal diversity more complex in the contaminated soil than in the uncontaminated soil. Archaeal populations in the contaminated soil consisted mainly of Euryarchaeota. Archaea may be useful indicators of ecosystem recovery from a pollution incident. Nevertheless, their full potential has yet to be exploited.

Bioremediation and Sustainable Development

Conclusively, the bioremediation of polluted environment using of an environmental-friendly, versatile and cost-effective technology such as microbial bioremediation will reduce the health risk, rescue the biodiversity heritage and restore the damaged ecosystem naturally. Moreover, well designed bioremediation projects will create direct and indirect employment opportunities; it will also facilitate a sustainable management of contaminated soils, all is tapping to promote and facilitate the integration of new sustainable socio-economic green activities in the Middle East region.

Future Perspectives

Bioremediation has the potential to restore contaminated environments inexpensively yet effectively. Lack of sufficient knowledge about the effect of various environmental factors on the rate and extent of biodegradation create a source of uncertainty. It is important to point out that many field tests have not been correctly designed, well controlled, or properly analyzed, leading to uncertainty when selecting response options. Hence, future field studies should invest serious efforts adopting scientifically legitimate approaches and acquiring the highest quality data possible.

Moreover, a wide diversity of microbes with detoxification abilities is waiting to be explored. The inadequate knowledge about microbes and their natural role in the environment could affect the acceptability of their uses. The understanding of the diversity of microbial community’s in petroleum contaminated environment is essential to get a better insight into potential oil degraders and to understand their genetics and biochemistry that will result in developing appropriate bioremediation strategies, thus, preserving the long-term sustainability of natural terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

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أدنى بقعة في العالم تنتج أكبر طاقة شمسية في فلسطين

تشير الإحصاءات إلى أن أكثر من 98٪ من الطاقة يتم استيرادها من إسرائيل، وهو ما يعني أن فلسطين في الوقت الحالي تعتمد بالكامل على الاحتلال الاسرائيلي  لتزويد احتياجاتها من الطاقة والكهرباء, ونظراً لأن فلسطين تستقبل اشعاعاً شمسياً يعتبر الاعلى في العالم وأن أسعار البترول والمشتقات التفطية تعتبرعالية نسبياً بالمقارنة بالدول العربية والعالمية الاخرى فان وجود الطاقة المتجددة لتعزيز وتطوير الطاقة المستدامة للفلسطينيين هو من الأهمية بمكان وأن التركيز على تقليل الاعتماد على واردات الطاقة من الاحتلال الاسرائيلي وزيادة استخدام مصادر الطاقة المتجددة المتاحة في فلسطي هو من سبل تعزيز صمود ومواجهة للاحتلال الاسرائيلي .

المقدسيون وهم سكان القدس المحتلة يواجهون ضغوطا اقتصادية حادة من قبل سلطات الاحتلال الاسرائيلي وتكمن هذه الضغوط على شكل  ضرائب وقيود على النشاط الاقتصادي والسياسي والاجتماعي لسنوات عديدة وذلك محاولة من الاحتلال الاسرائيلي طردهم وتهجيرهم من أماكن سكناهم , ولدعم صمود سكان القدس الشرقية في مدينة القدس المحتلة قامت مؤسسة فلسطين الغد للتنمية والتييترأسها رئيس الوزراء السابقد. سلام فياض، بتمويل مشروع للطاقة الشمسية وذلك بانشاء محطة تولد الطاقة الشمسية ( وقفية البلدة القديمة )

أن سكان القدس والبالغ عددهم حوالي 40 ألف نسمة، يعانون من الفقر والتهميشوعلى الرغم من فقر السكان إلا أنهم ملزمون أيضاً بدفع تكلفة الكهرباء بتعرفة تزيد بحاوالي 15% عن التعرفة التي يدفعها السكان الإسرائيليون، الأمر الذي يثقل كاهلهم، خاصة وأن معظمهم ينتمون إلى شرائح فقيرة أصلاً.

ولدعم صمود هذه العائلات ولمساعدتها في مواجهة المتطلبات المعيشية، قامت المؤسسة بدعم لفاتورة الكهرباء المنزلي ل 5,000 عائلة فلسطينية في البلدة القديمة في القدس، وذلك بواقع 14 دولار أمريكي لفاتورة الكهرباء لكل عائلة، مما يساهم في خفض فاتورة الكهرباءبالمعدلحوالي 25 %وباستدامة لهذا الدعم ولمدة تصل لغاية 25 عاماُ .

في منطقة قريبة من أريحا  المدينة التي تعتبر احدة من أقدم المدن المأهولة بالسكان  في العالم وأدنى مستوى تحت سطح البحر في العالم (  258 متر (846 قدم) تحت مستوى سطح البحر ) يقع  أكبر مشروع للطاقة المتجددة في فلسطين ومدينة أريحا كانت ساحة المعركة النظيفة ضد الاحتلال الإسرائيلي وجزءاً  من السعي المتواصل للاستقلال الذاتي للطاقة في فلسطين .

أن  محطة مشروع البحر الميت الكهروضئية  لتوليد الطاقة  هي من أهم المشاريع وأضخمها ليس في فلسطين وحسب بل في المنطقة العربية ككل وتأتي هذه المحطة التي تقدر طاقتها الانتاجية بـ 710 كيلو واط ساعةوالتي تنتج أكثر من 90000  شيكل شهرياً والتي تم تشغيلها بواسطة شركة كهرباء القدس في ديسمبر كانون الاول عام 2014, وقد تم تصميم وبناء هذه المحطة بنسبة 100%  بأيد وخبرات فلسطينية محلية , ولقد قامت شركة مصادر لأنظمة الطاقة وهي إحدى الشركات الرائدة في مجال تركيبأنظمة الطاقة المتجددة في فلسطين بتنفيذ هذا المشروع وبفترة قياسية لم تتجاوز الستة شهور ، وقد بلغت تكلفة انشاء هذه المحطة ما يقارب المليون دولار أمريكي .

أن هذا المشروع وغيره من المشاريع يعطي أملاً لدى الفلسطينين لاستخدام الطاقة البدبلة كنوع من المقاومة الناعمة والسلمية ويبرز الوجه الحضاري لفسطين في الاستثمار في قطاع الطاقة المتجددة وكبديل عن الطاقة التي يتم استيرادهما من شركات الاحتلال الاسرائيلي وكمصدر طاقة اضافي يغذي النقص الحاد في احنياجات قطاع الكهرباء في فلسطين ولتصبح الطاقة الكهروضوئية بنسبة متقاربة من استخدام الطاقة الحرارية لتسخين المياه وبنسبة 80% من اجالي استخدام الطاقة الحرارية في فلسطين .


المهندس عبد الناصر دويكات

باحث ومهتم بالطاقة المتجددة وترشيد الاستهلاك 

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الطاقة المتجددة في رؤية السعودية 2030

في الخامس والعشرين من شهر أبريل لعام 2015م تمت الموافقة من قبل مجلس الوزراء السعودي على إقرار ميثاق وطني جديد في المملكة العربية السعودية يعرف “رؤية المملكة 2030م”، على أن يتولى مجلس الشؤون الاقتصادية والتنمية وضع الآليات ومتابعة الوزارات والجهات المستهدفة من خلال مؤشرات الأداء الرئيسية في تطبيق برامج وآليات رؤية السعودية 2030م. وتعد هذه الرؤية خطة عريضة لضم وتنظيم العمل الحكومي والخاص للعمل على تحقيق أهداف الرؤيا.

ومن بين الأهداف المتضمنة في رؤية السعودية 2030: وجود خطة متخصصة تسعى لتنويع وتنمية الاقتصاد السعودي، حيث تأمل هذه الخطة الطموحة إلى التحول باقتصاد المملكة من المرتبة العشرين حاليا، لتصبح ضمن أفضل خمسة عشرة اقتصادا في العالم. وستعمل المملكة على زيادة إيراداتها غير النفطية ستة أضعاف من 43.5 مليار دولار سنويا إلى 267 مليار دولار سنويا! وتماشيا مع أهداف الرؤيا حدث تغير وزاري حيث أضحت وزارة الطاقة والصناعة والثروة المعدنية المتعددة المهام بدلا لوزارة البترول والثروة المعدنية. والجدير بالذكر أن هذا التعديل الوزاري يدل على نية المملكة العربية السعودية الاهتمام فعليا بالطاقة الشمسية.

البرنامج الوطني للطاقة المتجددة

يعد البرنامج الوطني للطاقة المتجدد، مبادرة استراتيجية في عهد الملك سلمان بن عبد العزيز آلِ سعود، وتنضوي هذه المبادرة تحت مظلة رؤية السعودية ٢٠٣٠م وبرنامج  التحول الوطني ٢٠٢٠م. ويعمل البرنامج الوطني للطاقة المتجددة على إنتاج ٩.٥ جيجاوات من الطاقة المتجددة بحلول ٢٠٢٣م، إضافة إلى هدف مرحلي بتحقيق ٣.٤٥ جيجاوات بحلول ٢٠٢٠م.

السياسات والأطر التنظيمية

وبحسب ما ذكر في نص رؤية السعودية 2030 بوجود عوائق تحد من انتشار مشاريع الطاقة المتجددة، لذلك لابد من الحاجة إلى الدعم السياسي لتحسين فرص الطاقة المتجددة لتساهم في مزيج الطاقة الحالي. والهدف من سياسات الدعم للطاقة المتجددة هو لدعم التصنيع والتطوير في هذا القطاع الواعد، وبناء القدرات التسويقية، والعمل على خفض الكلفة الاقتصادية للألواح الشمسية، والتركيز على الدور الهام الذي تلعبه الطاقة المتجددة للتخفيف من تبعات التغير المناخي وتلبية الاحتياج المحلي من الطاقة مما يساهم في تعزيز أمن الطاقة.

والجدير بالذكر أن المملكة العربية السعودية تحتاج للبدء بتكوين إطار قانوني وتنظيمي ملائم لجذب القطاع الخاص للاستثمار في الطاقة المتجددة والمساهمة في تحقيق اهداف رؤية 2030. وتعتبر “هيئة تنظيم الكهرباء والإنتاج المزدوج” هي الواجهة المنوط بها تنظيم صناعة تحلية المياه وإنتاج الكهرباء في المملكة العربية السعودية، بالإضافة إلى ذلك فهي تعمل على بناء وتطوير سياسة وطنية للطاقة المتجددة. ويشمل ذلك خطة وطنية لصناعة الكهرباء ودعم القطاع الخاص في توليد الطاقة الكهربائية من خلال منتجين مستقلين لتحقيق التنافسية في هذا القطاع. مما سيسمح للمستهلكين من الحصول على خدمات الكهرباء بصورة مباشرة من الموردين بحسب الأسعار المتفق عليها.

Garbage Woes in Cairo

Cairo, being one of the largest cities in the world, is home to more than 15 million inhabitants. Like other mega-cities, solid waste management is a huge challenge for Cairo municipality and other stakeholders.  The city produces more than 15,000 tons of solid waste every day which is putting tremendous strain on city’s infrastructure. Waste collection services in Cairo are provided by formal as well as informal sectors. While local authorities, such as the Cairo Cleanliness and Beautification Authority (CCBA), form the formal public sector, the informal public sector is comprised of traditional garbage-collectors (the Zabbaleen).

Around 60 percent of the solid waste is managed by formal as well as informal waste collection, disposal or recycling operations while the rest is thrown on city streets or at illegal dumpsites. The present waste management is causing serious ecological and public health problems in Cairo and adjoining areas. Infact, disposal of solid waste in water bodies has lead to contamination of water supplies is several parts of the city. Waste collection in Cairo is subcontracted to ‘zabbaleen’, local private companies, multinational companies or NGOs. The average collection rate ranges from 0 percent in slums to 90% in affluent residential areas.

The Zabbaleen of Cairo

The Zabbaleen, traditional waste collectors of Cairo, have been responsible for creating one of the world’s most efficient and sustainable resource-recovery and waste-recycling systems. Since 1950’s, the Zabbaleen have been scouring the city of Cairo to collect waste from streets and households using donkey carts and pickup trucks. After bringing the waste to their settlement in Muqattam Village, also called Cairo’s garbage city, the waste is sorted and transformed into useful products like quilts, rugs, paper, livestock food, compost, recycled plastic products etc. After removing recyclable and organic materials, the segregated waste is passed onto various enterprises owned by Zabbaleen families.

A group of Zabbaleen boys at Muqattam Village

The Zabbaleen collect around 60 percent of the total solid waste generated in Cairo and recycle up to 80 percent of the collected waste which is much higher than recycling efficiencies observed in the Western world.  Over the last few decades, the Zabbaleen have refined their collection and sorting methods, built their own labor-operated machines and created a system in which every man, child and woman works.

Tryst with International Companies

In 2002, international waste management companies started operations in Egypt, particularly Cairo, Alexandria and Giza governorates, and the Zabbaleen were sidelined. However after ten years of participation in solid waste management in Cairo, their performance has been dismal. Infact, in 2009 Egyptian government acknowledged that solid waste management has deteriorated alarmingly after the entry of foreign companies.

The waste management situation in Greater Cairo has assumed critical proportions because of high population, increased waste generation and lack of waste collection infrastructure and disposal facilities. Garbage accumulation on streets, along highways and in waterways is a common sight. As a result of the bad performance of multinational private sector companies in SWM in Egypt during the last decade, the level of street cleanliness deteriorated and the pollution resulting from open-burning of trash increased significantly.

Moreover, the Zabbaleen suffered loss of livelihood after the entry of foreign solid waste management companies due to restricted access to their main asset. The mass slaughtering of pigs in 2009, after fears of swine flu epidemic, has lead to accumulation of organic wastes in many parts of the city.

The waste management situation in Cairo is at a serious juncture and concerted efforts are required to improve waste collection and disposal services across the city. The involvement of Zabbaleen is essential to the success of any waste management plan and the Egyptian government must involve all stake-holders is putting together a sustainable waste management for Cairo.

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Composting Scenario in Qatar

The State of Qatar has one of the highest per capita waste generation rates worldwide. In 2012, Qatar generated 8,000 tons of solid waste daily (this is excluding construction and demolition waste which amounts to 20,000 tons additional waste per day).  This number is predicted to reach 19,000 tons/day in 2032, with an annual growth rate of roughly 4.2%.1  Most of these wastes end up in landfills – in 2012, more than 90% of Qatar’s solid waste were sent to landfills although the government is intensifying its efforts to reduce this amount.  This percentage is extremely high compared to many industrialized countries in Europe and Asia (e.g. Austria, Denmark, Netherlands and Japan) where less than 10% of solid waste are disposed of in landfills.  These countries have high recycling rates, have invested in technologies that convert waste into energy, and apply composting process to their organic waste.2 In some of these nations, as much as 40% of their wastes are composted.

What is Composting

Composting is an effective method for reducing the amount of garbage that enters landfills.  This is particularly applicable to waste streams having high organic content, which applies to most municipal solid wastes (MSW).  The process of composting is basically the breakdown of organic matter by micro and macroorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and/or earthworms in an aerobic environment.  The resulting product – compost – is rich in nutrients beneficial to plants like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, so it is mainly used as fertilizer and soil conditioner. 

The market for compost is steadily rising thanks to the effort of many governments to promote sustainable agriculture and the increasing demand for organically grown produce.  Composting, therefore, aside from keeping organic wastes from filling up landfills, can also be an excellent source of revenue.

Composting in Qatar

At present, composting in Qatar is mainly done at the Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) in Mesaieed, which houses the largest composting facility in the country and one of the largest in the world.  The waste that enters the plant initially goes through anaerobic fermentation, which produces biogas that can power the facility’s gas engine and generators, followed by aerobic treatment which yields the final product. 

Two types of compost are generated: Grade A (compost that comes from green waste, such as yard/park trimmings, leftovers from kitchen or catering services, and wastes from markets) and Grade B (compost produced from MSW).  The plant started its operation in 2011 and when run at full capacity is able to process 750 tons of waste and produce 52 tons of Grade A compost, 377 tons of Grade B compost, liquid fertilizer which is composed of 51 tons of Grade A compost and 204 tons of Grade B compost, and 129 tons of biogas.3 

This is a significant and commendable development in Qatar’s implementation of its solid waste management plan, which is to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover from waste, and to avoid disposing in landfills as much as possible.  However, the large influx of workers to Qatar in the coming years as the country prepares to host the World Cup in 2022 is expected to substantially increase solid waste generation and apart from its investments in facilities like the composting plant and in DSWMC in general, the government may have to tap into the efforts of organizations and communities to implement its waste management strategy.

Silver Lining

Thankfully, several organizations recognize the importance of composting in waste management and are raising awareness on its benefits.  Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) has been actively promoting composting through its Solid Waste Interest Group.  Last year, they were one of the implementers of the Baytna project, the first Passivhaus experiment in the country.  This project entails the construction of an energy-efficient villa and a comparative study will be performed as to how the carbon footprint of this structure would compare to a conventional villa.  The occupants of the Passivhaus villa will also be made to implement a sustainable waste management system which includes composting of food and garden waste, which is meant to lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to landfilling.

Qatar Foundation is also currently developing an integrated waste management system for the entire Education City and the Food Services group is pushing for composting to be included as a method to treat food and other organic waste.  And many may not know this but composting can be and has been done by individuals in their own backyard and can even be done indoors with the right equipment.  Katrin Scholz-Barth, previous president of SustainableQatar, a volunteer-based organization that fosters sustainable culture through awareness, skills and knowledge, is an advocate of composting and has some great resources on how to start and maintain your own composting bin as she has been doing it herself.  A simple internet search will also reveal that producing compost at home is a relatively simple process that can be achieved with minimal tools.  At present, very few families in Qatar are producing their own compost and Scholz-Barth believes there is much room for improvement.

As part of its solid waste management plan as stated in the National Development Strategy for 2011-2016, Qatar aims to maintain domestic waste generation at 1.6 kg per capita per day.  This will probably involve encouraging greater recycling and reuse efforts and the reduction of waste from its source.  It would also be worthwhile to include programs that will promote and boost composting efforts among institutions, organizations and individuals, encouraging them with the fact that apart from its capability of significant waste diversion from landfills, composting can also be an attractive source of income.


  1. Qatar Development Bank (2013). “Qatar Solid Waste Management Phase 1 Assessment”.  Presentation during the Environment Statistics 2013 Workshop organized by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics
  2. Hoornweg, D. and Bhada-Tata, P. (2012). “What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management”. USA: World Bank
  3. “World’s Largest Composting Plant in Mesaieed”. Gulf Times 23 February 2012. Accessed 27 February 2014.

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