CSP-Powered Desalination Prospects in MENA

Conventional large-scale desalination is cost-prohibitive and energy-intensive, and not viable for poor countries in the MENA region due to increasing costs of fossil fuels. In addition, the environmental impacts of desalination are considered critical on account of GHG emissions from energy consumption and discharge of brine into the sea. The negative effects of desalination can be minimized, to some extent, by using renewable energy to power the plants.

What is Concentrated Solar Power

The core element of Concentrated Solar Power Plant is a field of large mirrors reflecting captured rays of sun to a small receiver element, thus concentrating the solar radiation intensity by several 100 times and generating very high temperature (more than 1000 °C). This resultant heat can be either used directly in a thermal power cycle based on steam turbines, gas turbines or Stirling engines, or stored in molten salt, concrete or phase-change material to be delivered later to the power cycle for night-time operation. CSP plants also have the capability alternative hybrid operation with fossil fuels, allowing them to provide firm power capacity on demand. The capacity of CSP plants can range from 5 MW to several hundred MW.

Three types of solar collectors are utilized for large-scale CSP power generation – Parabolic Trough, Fresnel and Central Receiver Systems. Parabolic trough systems use parabolic mirrors to concentrate solar radiation on linear receivers which moves with the parabolic mirror to track the sun from east to west. In a Fresnel system, the parabolic shape of the trough is split into several smaller, relatively flat mirror segments which are connected at different angles to a rod-bar that moves them simultaneously to track the sun. Central Receiver Systems consists of two-axis tracking mirrors, or heliostats, which reflect direct solar radiation onto a receiver located at the top of a tower.

Theoretically, all CSP systems can be used to generate electricity and heat.  All are suited to be combined with membrane and thermal desalination systems. However, the only commercially available CSP plants today are linear concentrating parabolic trough systems because of lower cost, simple construction, and high efficiency

CSP-Powered Desalination Prospects in MENA

A recent study by International Energy Agency found that the six biggest users of desalination in MENA––Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates––use approximately 10 percent of the primary energy for desalination. Infact, desalination accounted for more than 4 percent of the total electricity generated in the MENA region in 2010. With growing desalination demand, the major impact will be on those countries that currently use only a small proportion of their energy for desalination, such as Jordan and Algeria.

The MENA region has tremendous wind and solar energy potential which can be effectively utilized in desalination processes. Concentrating solar power (CSP) offers an attractive option to power industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  CSP can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants based on thermal or membrane processes. Infact, several countries in the region, such as Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are already developing large CSP solar power projects.

Concentrating solar power offers an attractive option to run industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  Such plants can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants based on thermal or membrane processes. The MENA region has tremendous solar energy potential that can facilitate generation of energy required to offset the alarming freshwater deficit. The virtually unlimited solar irradiance in the region will ensure large-scale deployment of eco-friendly desalination systems, thereby saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

Several countries in the MENA region – Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia – have joined together to expedite the deployment of concentrated solar power (CSP) and exploit the region's vast solar energy resources. One of those projects is a series of massive solar farms spanning the Middle East and North Africa. Two projects under this Desertec umbrella are Morocco’s Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power plant, which was approved in late 2011, and Tunisia’s TuNur Concentrated Solar Power Plant, which was approved in January 2012. The Moroccan plant will have a 500-MW capacity, while the Tunisia plant will have a 2 GW capacity. Jordan is also making rapid strides with several mega CSP projects under development in Maa’n Development Area. 

Conclusions

Seawater desalination powered by concentrated solar power offers an attractive opportunity for MENA countries to ensure affordable, sustainable and secure freshwater supply. The growing water deficit in the MENA region is fuelling regional conflicts, political instability and environmental degradation. It is expected that the energy demand for seawater desalination for urban centres and mega-cities will be met by ensuring mass deployment of CSP-powered systems across the region. Considering the severe consequence of looming water crisis in the MENA region it is responsibility of all regional governments to devise a forward-looking regional water policy to facilitate rapid deployment and expansion of CSP and other clean energy resources for seawater desalination.

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Solar Energy Prospects in Tunisia

Tunisia is an energy-dependent country with modest oil and gas reserves. Around 97 percent of the total energy is produced by natural gas and oil, while renewables contribute merely 3% of the energy mix. The installed electricity capacity at the end of 2015 was 5,695 MW which is expected to sharply increase to 7,500 MW by 2021 to meet the rising power demands of the industrial and domestic sectors. Needless to say, Tunisia is building additional conventional power plants and developing its solar and wind capacities to sustain economic development.

Wind Energy Outlook

Wind power represents the main source of renewable energy in Tunisia. Since 2008, wind energy is leading the energy transition of Tunisia with a growth of the production up to 245 MW of power installed in 2016. Two main wind farms have been developed until now: Sidi-Daoud and Bizerte. 

The first wind power project of Tunisia started in 2000, with the installation of the Sidi-Daoud’s wind farm in the gulf of Tunis. The station has been developed in three steps before reaching its current power capacity of 54 MW. The operation of two wind power facilities in Bizerte – Metline and Kchabta Station – was launched in 2012. The development of those stations has conducted to a significant increase of electricity generated by wind power, totalizing a production of 94 MW for Kchabta and 95MW in Metline in 2016

 

Solar Energy Potential

Tunisia has good renewable energy potential, especially solar and wind, which the government is trying to tap to ensure a safe energy future. The country has very good solar radiation potential which ranges from 1800 kWh/m² per year in the North to 2600kWh/m² per year in the South. The total installed capacity of grid-connected renewable power plant was around 342 MW in 2016 (245 MW of wind energy, 68 MW of hydropower and 15 MW of PV), which is hardly 6% of the total capacity. 

In 2009, the Tunisian government adopted “Plan Solaire Tunisien” or Tunisia Solar Plan to achieve 4.7 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 which includes the use of solar photovoltaic systems, solar water heating systems and solar concentrated power units. The Tunisian solar plan is being implemented by STEG Énergies Renouvelables (STEG RE) which is a subsidiary of state-utility STEG and responsible for the development of alternative energy sector in the country. 

The total investment required to implement the Tunisian Solar Program plan have been estimated at $2.5 billion, including $175 million from the National Fund, $530 million from the public sector, $1,660 million from private sector funds, and $24 million from international cooperation, all of which will be spent over the period of 2012 – 2016. Around 40 percent of the resources will be devoted to the development of energy export infrastructure.

Tunisian Solar Program (PROSOL)

Tunisian Solar Programme, launched in 2005, is a joint initiative of UNEP, Tunisian National Agency for Energy Conservation, state-utility STEG and Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea. The program aims to promote the development of the solar energy sector through financial and fiscal support. PROSOL includes a loan mechanism for domestic customers to purchase Solar Water Heaters and a capital cost subsidy provided by the Tunisian government of 20% of system costs. The major benefits of PROSOL are:

  • More than 50,000 Tunisian families get their hot water from the sun based on loans
  • Generation of employment opportunities in the form of technology suppliers and installation companies.
  • Reduced dependence on imported energy carriers
  • Reduction of GHGs emissions.

The Tunisian Solar Plan contains 40 projects aimed at promoting solar thermal and photovoltaic energies, wind energy, as well as energy efficiency measures. The plan also incorporates the ELMED project; a 400KV submarine cable interconnecting Tunisia and Italy.

In Tunisia, the totol solar PV total capacity at the end of 2014 was 15 MW which comprised of mostly small-scale private installations (residential as well as commercial) with capacity ranging from 1 kW and 30 kW. As of early 2015, there were only three operational PV installations with a capacity of at least 100 kW: a 149 kWp installation in Sfax, a 211 kWp installation operated by the Tunisian potable water supply company SONEDE and a 100 kWp installation in the region of Korba, both connected to the medium voltage, and realized by Tunisian installer companies. The first large scale solar power plant of a 10MW capacity, co-financed by KfW and NIF (Neighbourhood Investment Facility) and implemented by STEG, is due 2018 in Tozeur.

TuNur Concentrated Solar Power Project

TuNur CSP project is Tunisia's most ambitious renewable energy project yet. The project consists of a 2,250 MW solar CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) plant in Sahara desert and a 2 GW HVDC (High-Voltage Direct Current) submarine cable from Tunisia to Italy. TuNur plans to use Concentrated Solar Power to generate a potential 2.5GW of electricity on 100km2 of desert in South West Tunisia by 2018. At present the project is at the fund-raising stage.

Future Perspectives

The Tunisian government has recetly announced plans to invest US $1 billion towards renewable energy projects including the installation of 1,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy this year. According to the Energy General Direction of the Tunisian Ministry of Energy and Mines, 650 MW will come from solar photovoltaic, while the residual 350 MW will be supplied by wind energy.

At the same time, the private sector plans to invest an additional US $600 million into the development of renewable energy capacity in 2017. Under new plans, Tunisia has dedicated itself to generating 30 per cent of its electrical energy from renewable energy sources in 2030.

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سوق الطاقة المتجدد في منطقة الشرق الأوسط

تعد منطقة الشرق الأوسط من أفضل المناطق حول العالم للإستفادة من موارد الطاقة الشمسية وطاقة الرياح. إذ وفقا لتقرير (إيرينا) الأخير، فإن منطقة الشرق الأوسط ستحظى بإستثمارات في مشاريع الطاقة المتجددة ب 35مليار دولار وذلك مع حلول عام 2020م. ومؤخرا حظي قطاع الطاقة المتجددة بأسعار تنافسية لتركيب الألواح الشمسية الكهروضوئية ومراوح الرياح.

التطورات الإقليمية

وعلى صعيد منطقة الشرق الأوسط، تبرز المملكة المغربية كمثل رائد يحتدى به في تطوير المشاريع الشمسية لتوليد الطاقة الكهربائية. حيث جعلت الحكومة المغرية تحقيق 2 جيجا من الطاقة الشمسية و 2 جيجا واط من طاقة الرياح هدفا لها بحلول العام 2020م. ويطلق على مشروع الطاقة الشمسية في المغرب إسم (نور). ويأتي بعد المغرب دول عربية أخرى شهدت تقدما واضحا في مشاريع الطاقة الشمسية مثل الأردن ومصر. وفي دول منطقة الخليج العربي، نجد هناك إهتمام جاد لتطوير مشاريع للطاقة الشمسية. ففي الإمارات العربية المتحدة، في العاصمة ابوظبي، محطة (شمس) للطاقة الشمسية المركزة التي تم تدشينها عام 2014م، بقدرة 100 ميغاواط. وفي مدينة دبي تم الإنتهاء من 13 ميغاواط كمرحلة أولى من المحطة الشمسية. أما في المملكة العربية السعودية، فقد أخذت الطاقة الشمسية وطاقة الرياح حصتها من إهتمام رؤية السعودية 2030م، التي أكدت على ضرورة إعتماد خيار الطاقة المتجددة لتنويع مصادر الطاقة في السعودية.

نعمة الطاقة المتجددة

تتعدد مزايا الطاقة المتجددة التي يمكن لدول منطقة الشرق الأوسط الإستفادة منها في أشكال عديدة منها: أمن الطاقة، تحسين نوعية الهواء، والمساهمة في الحد من إنبعاثات الغازات الدفيئة الملوثة في الهواء، فرص العمل و تحقيق للأمن المائي الغذائي.

ويعزز وفرة مصادر الطاقة المتجددة على مدار العام من جدوى نشرها في منطقة الشرق الأوسط، وأيضا ساعد إنخفاض أسعار تكنلوجيا الطاقة الشمسية الكهروضوئية إلى زيادة الإعتماد عليها فمثلا: سجل إنخفاض تكاليف توليد الطاقة المتجددة في مشروع دبي الشمسي لمحمد بن راشد آل مكتوم إلى 5,85 سنت أمريكي لكل كيلوواط ساعة، حيث تعتبر من أدنى المعدلات في الكلفة حول العالم.

تأثير الإنخفاض في الأسعار

سيكون للإنخفاض المتسارع الأثر الكبير في حياة عشرات الملايين من الناس الذين مازلوا يفتقرون إلى إمدادات رخيصة وحديثة للطاقة. حيث سيكون لخفض التكاليف الدور الكبير في مساعدة دول الشرق الأوسط ودول مجلس التعون الخليجي خاصة، لتحقيق هدف التحول نحو مصادر الطاقة المتجددة وبالتالي الحد من الإعتماد على الوقود الأحفوري لتوليد الكهرباء وتحلية مياه البحر. وسيساعد الإنخفاض السعري كذلك، الأسواق الناشئة في الدول النامية لتلبية الطلب على المتزايد للطاقة في دولها.

الاتجاهات الجديدة

توفر تقنيات خارج الشبكة للطاقة الشمسية فرصة ممتازة لنشر الطاقة النظيفة خصوصا في المناطق النائية والبعيدة عن الشبكة الرئيسة. حيث ستضمن التغطية خارج الشبكة للمناطق النائية من الحصول على طاقة نظيفة وموثوقة ورخيصة وستساعد في تغيير حياة الملايين في الدول النامية حول العالم.

وسيساهم المضي في تطوير بطاريات تخزين الطاقة من التوسع في إعتماد مشاريع الطاقة الشمسية، والتوسع في غعتمادها كمصدر متجدد وذو كلفة معقولة. وتتصدر شركات عالمية في البحث والتطوير في مجال تقنيات تخزين الطاقة مثل شركتي تسلا و نيسان، حيث سيساعد تخزين الطاقة إلى التغلب على تحدي التقطع في مصادر الكاقة المتجددة بكافة أشكالها.

وتعد تقنية الطاقة الشمسية المركزة إحدى التقنيات الشمسية المناسبة لدول منطقة الشرق الأوسط، خصوصا فيما يتعلق بتحلية مياه البحر التي ستقلل من هدر إحراق الوقود الأحفوري في عمليات التحلية. حيث توفر هذه التقنية إمدادات مستقرة للطاقة بشكل مستمر من محطات تحلية المياه وستساهم التطورات التقني السريع من إزدياد الإهتمام بخيار الطاقة الشمسية المركزة في منطقة الشرق الأوسط.


مصاعب تواجه إعتماد الطاقة الشمسية

تواجه الطاقة الشمسية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط عدد من التحديات منها: غياب الإطار التنظيمي القوي و إرتفاع الرسوم الجمركية وغياب الدعم المؤسسي للطاقة الشمسية و إنخفاض المردود الإقتصادي نتيجة لعدد من العوامل مثل الدعم الكبير للنفط والغاز.
والجدير بالذكر أن قطاع الطاقة في منطقة الشرق الأوسط، يقبع تحت سيطرة الدولة والحكومة المركزية التي تحد من تنافسية منتجي الطاقة المستقلين و دخول القطاع الخاص من المستثمرين ومطوري المشاريع إلى الأسواق المحلية. وتتصدر الأردن والمغرب دول المنطقة في وجود الإطار التشريعي لدعم مشاريع الطاقة المتجددة تليها المملكة العربية السعودية ودولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة.

نصائح للمستثمرين الجدد في مشاريع الطاقة الشمسية

إن سوق الطاقة الشمسية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط، يعد معقدا نظرا لطبيعة هيكلة سوق الكهرباء ولذلك تنشأ تحديات لاتعد ولا تحصى في كل بلد. لذلك ينبغي على الدول التي تطمح بالتوسع في الإسستفادة من مصدر الطاقة الشمسية، أن تعمل على البنية التحتية و سهولة الوصول إلى الشبكة و إعتماد خطط التراخيص بشكل واضح وشفاف و إعتماد بيانات الأرصاد الجوية ذات الجودة العالية وقضايا أخرى تتعلق بتحسين تقنيات الألواح الشمسية.

ترجمة

إيمان أمان
متخصصة وباحثة في شؤون الطاقة وتغير المناخ

Desertec: What Went Wrong?

A plan to power Europe from solar power plants in Sahara desert, popularly known as Desertec, seems to have stalled, but several large North African solar projects are still going ahead despite local concerns. Where did the Desertec project go wrong, and can desert solar power yet play a role in a democratic and sustainable future?

If you use social media, you may well have seen a graphic going around, showing a tiny square in the Sahara desert with the caption: ‘This much solar power in the Sahara would provide enough energy for the whole world!’

Can this really be true? It is based on data from a research thesis written by Nadine May in 2005 for the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany. According to May, an area of 3.49 million km² is potentially available for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants in the North African countries Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. She argues that an area of 254 kilometres x 254 kilometres (the biggest box on the image) would be enough to meet the total electricity demand of the world. The amount of electricity needed by the EU-25 states could be produced on an area of 110 kilometres x 110 kilometres (assuming solar collectors that could capture 100 per cent of the energy). A more realistic estimation by the Land Art Generator Initiative assumed a 20-per-cent capture rate and put forward an area approximately eight times bigger than the May study for meeting the world’s energy needs. Nevertheless, the map is a good illustration of the potential of solar power and how little space would be needed to power the entire planet.

This isn’t a new idea. Back in 1913, the American engineer Frank Shuman presented plans for the world’s first solar thermal power station to Egypt’s colonial elite, including the British consul-general Lord Kitchener. The power station would have pumped water from the Nile River to the adjacent fields where Egypt’s lucrative cotton crop was grown, but the outbreak of the First World War abruptly ended this dream.

The idea was explored again in the 1980s by German particle physicist Gerhard Knies, who was the first person to estimate how much solar energy was required to meet humanity’s demand for electricity. In 1986, in direct response to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, he arrived at the following remarkable conclusion: in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humans consume in a year. These ideas laid the groundwork for Desertec.

What is Desertec?

For the sake of clarity, it is worth differentiating between the Desertec Foundation and the Desertec Industrial Initiative. The non-profit Desertec Foundation was founded in January 2009 by a network of scientists, politicians and economists from around the Mediterranean. Its aim is to supply as many people and businesses as possible with renewable energy from the world’s deserts. This should, they hope, provide opportunities for prosperity and help protect the climate.

In the autumn of 2009, an ‘international’ consortium of companies formed the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii), with weighty players such as E.ON, Munich Re, Siemens and Deutsche Bank all signing up as ‘shareholders’. It was formed as a largely German-led private-sector initiative with the aim of translating the Desertec concept into a profitable business project, by providing around 20 per cent of Europe’s electricity by 2050 through a vast network of solar- and windfarms stretching right across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. These generators would be connected to continental Europe via special high voltage, direct current transmission cables. The tentative total cost of this project has been estimated at €400 billion ($472 billion).

To understand the thinking behind Desertec, we need to consider some history. Between 1998 and 2006, a set of Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements were formed between the EU and Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. Their stated aim was the ‘gradual liberalization of trade’ in the region and the establishment of a Mediterranean free trade area. A project with similar goals called the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) was championed by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2008, to strengthen the ‘interdependence’ between the EU and the southern Mediterranean.

This goal of ‘interdependence’ is reminiscent of previous French prime minister Edgar Fouré’s famous coinage back in 1956, ‘L’indépendance dans l’interdépendance’, (independence in interdependence), a strategy promoted by successive French governments to maintain control and domination of the new ‘independent’ African countries. The UfM is designed to follow in their footsteps, furthering EU economic interests and reducing the need for energy imports from Russia. Promoting a renewable energy partnership was seen as a priority core project towards achieving these goals.

It is within this context of pro-corporate trade deals and a scramble for influence and energy resources that we should understand the Desertec project and especially its industrial arm, the Dii. Desertec could play a role in diversifying energy sources away from Russia as well as contributing to EU targets of reducing carbon emissions – and what better region to achieve these aims than MENA, an area well-endowed with natural resources, from fossil fuels to sun and wind. It seems that a familiar ‘colonial’ scheme is being rolled in front of our eyes: the unrestricted flow of cheap natural resources from the Global South to the rich industrialized North, maintaining a profoundly unjust international division of labour.

This is a genuine concern given the language used in different articles and publications describing the potential of the Sahara in powering the whole world. The Sahara is described as a vast empty land, sparsely populated; constituting a golden opportunity to provide Europe with electricity so it can continue its extravagant consumerist lifestyle and profligate energy consumption. This is the same language used by colonial powers to justify their civilizing mission and, as an African myself, I cannot help but be very suspicious of such megaprojects and their ‘well-intentioned’ motives that are often sugar-coating brutal exploitation and sheer robbery. Such sentiments were also raised by Daniel Ayuk Mbi Egbe of the African Network for Solar Energy in 2011. ‘Many Africans are sceptical about Desertec,’ he said. ‘Europeans make promises, but at the end of the day, they bring their engineers, they bring their equipment, and they go. It’s a new form of resource exploitation, just like in the past.’ The Tunisian trade unionist Mansour Cherni made similar points at the World Social Forum 2013 (WSF) held in Tunis when he asked: ‘Where will the energy produced here be used?…Where will the water come from that will cool the solar power plants? And what do the locals get from it all?’

Sustainable Development or Status quo?

There is nothing inherently wrong or dishonest in the Desertec idea. On the contrary, the goal of providing sustainable energy for the planet to fight global warming is to be applauded. But like any other idea, the questions of who uses it, how it is implemented, for what agenda and in which context it is being promoted, are of great importance.

Desertec was presented as a response to the issues of climate change, the Russian-Ukrainian gas conflicts in 2006 and 2009, fears of peak oil, and the global food crisis of 2009. However, if Desertec is really serious about addressing those crises, it needs to target their structural causes. Being an apolitical techno-fix, it promises to overcome these problems without fundamental change, basically maintaining the status quo and the contradictions of the global system that led to these crises in the first place. Moreover, by presenting the Euro-Med region as a unified community (we are all friends now and we need to fight against a common enemy!), it masks the real enemy of the MENA region, which is oppressive European hegemony and Western domination.

Big engineering-focused ‘solutions’ like Desertec tend to present climate change as a shared problem with no political or socio-economic context. This perspective hides the historical responsibilities of the industrialized West, the problems of the capitalist energy model, and the different vulnerabilities between countries of the North and the South. The MENA region is one of the regions hardest hit by climate change, despite producing less than 5 per cent of global carbon emissions, with water supplies in the area being particularly affected. The spread of solar energy initiatives that further plunder these increasingly-scarce water resources would be a great injustice. Desertec also provides PR cover to major energy businesses and oil and gas-fuelled regimes. Supporting big ‘clean energy’ projects lets them present themselves as environmental protectors rather than climate culprits.

The website of the foundation (which came up with the concept and gave it its name) states: ‘Desertec has never been about delivering electricity from Africa to Europe, but to supply companies in desert regions with energy from the sun instead of oil and gas.’ Despite this, the Dii consortium of (mainly European) companies was openly geared towards delivering energy from Africa to Europe. Eventually, however, the fall in the price of solar panels and wind turbines in the EU led the consortium to concede in 2013 that Europe can provide for most of its clean energy needs indigenously. The tensions between the foundation and Dii culminated in a divorce between the two in July 2013 as the former preferred to distance itself from the management crisis and disorientation of the industrial consortium. As a result of these developments, Dii shrank from 17 partners to only three by the end of 2014 (German RWE, Saudi Acwa Power and China State Grid).

Where is Desertec now?

For some people, the shrinking of Dii signalled the demise of Desertec. However, with or without Dii, the Desertec vision is still going ahead with projects in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Despite its stated ideals about powering Africa, the Desertec foundation is backing the Tunur project in Tunisia, a joint venture between Nur Energy, a British-based solar developer and a group of Maltese and Tunisian investors in the oil and gas sector. It explicitly describes itself as a large solar power export project linking the Sahara desert to Europe that will dispatch power to European consumers starting in 2018. Given that Tunisia depends on its neighbour Algeria for its energy needs and that it faces increasingly frequent power cuts, it would be outrageous (to say the least) to proceed with exports rather than producing for the local market. According to Med Dhia Hammami, a Tunisian investigative journalist working in the energy sector, the project seeks to take advantage of new Tunisian legislation allowing the liberalization of green energy production and distribution, breaking the monopoly of the state company STEG (Société Tunisienne d’Electricité et de Gaz) and opening the way to direct export of electricity by private companies. He describes it as ‘state prostitution’ and a confirmation of the Tunisian government’s submission to corporate diktats that go against the national interest.

Meanwhile, the Moroccan government, with help from Dii consortium members, has attracted funding from international lenders to develop the world’s largest concentrating solar power (CSP) plant at Ourzazate. It was originally envisioned as an export project, but failed to secure Spanish government support for an undersea cable; the project is now promoted as a means for Morocco to increase its own renewable energy supply. However, the role of transnational companies in the project is still attracting criticism. M Jawad, a campaigner from ATTAC/CADTM Morocco, is concerned about the increasing control exerted by transnationals on electrical energy production in his country. He sees projects like Ourzazate as a threat to national sovereignty in the clean energy sector, because crucial decisions that affect the whole population are being taken by a handful of technocrats, far from any democratic process or consultation.

A Community-centred Approach

The assumption that economic liberalization and ‘development’ necessarily lead to prosperity, stability and democracy – as if neoliberalism and the (under)development agenda of the West had nothing to do with the Arab Uprisings – is preposterous. Any project concerned with producing sustainable energy must be rooted in local communities, geared towards providing and catering for their needs and centred around energy and environmental justice.

This is even more important when we think about the issue in the context of the Arab Uprisings and the demands of the revolutions: bread, freedom, social justice and national sovereignty. Projects involving large transnationals tend to take a top-down approach, increasing the risk of displacement, land-grabbing and local pollution. Without community involvement, there is no guarantee that such schemes will help with alleviating poverty, reducing unemployment or preserving a safe environment.

This has been a major failing of the Desertec initiative. Only a few actors from the South of the Mediterranean were involved in its development, and most of them represented public institutions and central authorities, not the local communities who would be affected by the project.

The Desertec foundation did publish a set of criteria to ensure that large-scale solar projects in desert regions are implemented in an environmentally and socially responsible way. However, in the absence of democratic control, transparency and citizen participation in decision making in the MENA region, those criteria will remain ink on paper.

Another important question is: will these projects transfer the knowledge, expertise and designs of the renewable technology to the countries in this region? This seems unlikely given the transnationals’ usual reticence in doing so and questions of intellectual property around such technologies. As an example, the glass troughs (solar thermal collectors) for North African CSP plants are all made in Germany, and the patents for the glass tube receivers are held by German companies. Without fair access to such technologies, MENA countries will remain dependent on the West and transnationals for future renewable development.

Solar Energy, a new Tool for Authoritarian Regimes?

To come back to the Arab uprisings, Desertec presented itself as a possible way out of the crisis, by bringing new opportunities to the region. This is baffling given that the project co-operated with corrupt elites and authoritarian regimes, some of which have since been overthrown, and others of which continue to oppress their populations.

Instead of providing a route to ‘develop’ away from repressive governments, the centralized nature of large CSP plants makes them an ideal source of income for corrupt and authoritarian regimes in the region (such as Algeria, Egypt and Morocco) and thus could help to keep them in power. To illustrate this risk, let’s take Algeria as an example.

Oil and gas have provided income for the Algerian regime for decades, and are used to buy social peace and maintain its grip on power. As the brutal Algerian civil war (a war against civilians, to be more accurate) was raging, with systematic violence from both the state and Islamist fundamentalists, BP finalized a contract worth $3 billion in December 1995, giving it the right to exploit gas deposits in the Sahara for the next 30 years. Total completed a similar deal worth $1.5 billion one month later, and in November 1996 a new pipeline supplying gas to the EU was opened, the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline through Spain and Portugal. These contracts undoubtedly bolstered the regime as it exerted systematic violence across the country and at a time of international isolation.

Tied to Algeria through huge investments, these companies and the EU had a clear interest in making sure that the repressive regime did not go under and acquiesced to the Algerian regime’s ‘Dirty War’ of the 1990s. A renewable megaproject like Desertec that ties European economies to corrupt MENA governments would create exactly the same kind of problems.

Parting Shot

Whether fossil fuelled or renewable, energy schemes that don’t benefit the people where the energy is extracted, that serve to prop up authoritarian and repressive regimes or only enrich a tiny minority of voracious elites and transnationals are scandalous and must be resisted.

Advocates for benign-sounding clean energy export projects like Desertec need to be careful they’re not supporting a new ‘renewable energy grab’: after oil, gas, gold, diamonds and cotton, is it now the turn of solar energy to maintain the global imperial dominance of the West over the rest of the planet?

Rather than embracing such gargantuan projects, we should instead support decentralized small-scale projects that can be democratically managed and controlled by local communities that promote energy autonomy. We don’t want to replicate the fossil fuel tragedy and therefore we must say: Leave the sunlight in the desert for its people!

Note: This article was originally published in March 2015 issue of New Internationalist and can be found at this link.

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الطاقة الشمسية في سلطنة عُمان: الإمكانيات والتقدم

solar-project-omanالطاقة الشمسية هي الحل الحيوي والاستراتيجي لتوفير الطاقة الكهربائية في سلطنة عمان. وبالنظر إلى الأراضي الواسعة الغير مستغلة وموارد الطاقة الشمسية المتاحة, عمان لديها إمكانات ممتازة لتطوير الطاقة الشمسية والتوسع فيها. الطاقة الشمسية خيارا قابلا للتطبيق في عمان ولا يمكن فقط أن تلبي الحاجة المتزايدة لتنويع مصادر الطاقة ولكن أيضا من شأنه أن يساعد في التنويع الاقتصادي.

مع الاعتماد الكلي على الوقود الأحفوري وزيادة عدد السكان جنبا إلى جنب مع المناطق الصناعية في المدن مثل الدقم وصحار وصلالة والبنية التحتية للطاقة والنفط والغاز احتياطيات عمان تشكل تحديا على النمو الاقتصادي. الأهمية الاستراتيجية والموقع الجغرافي لعمان يجعلها قابلة لتطبيق و لتسخير تكنولوجيات الطاقة المتجددة على حد سواء، لزيادة تطوير اقتصادها. أنها تساعد ليس فقط في الحد من الاعتماد على الوقود الأحفوري ولكن يساعد في خلق بيئة أنظف ومستدامة أيضا. خدمات الأبحاث والتطوير والتكنولوجيا العالية المتعلقة بالطاقة المتجددة يمكن أن تخلق الأعمال الجديدة والتوظيف في سلطنة عمان، ويمكن أن تجلب تغييرا جذريا في تنويع الاقتصاد العماني.
وضع الطاقة الشمسية في سلطنة عمان
عمان تستقبل كميات هائلة من الإشعاع الشمسي على مدار العام والتي هي من بين أعلى المعدلات في العالم، و هناك مجالا كبيرا لتسخير وتطوير موارد الطاقة الشمسية في جميع أنحاء السلطنة. قيم متوسط ​​مدة سطوع الشمس اليومية والإشعاع الشمسي  في 25 موقعا في عمان كبيرة، إذ أن أعلى إشعاع شمسي في السلطنة يوجد في منطقة مرمول تليها فهود وصحار و قيرون حيريتي. وكذلك أعلى تشمس للطاقة الشمسية لوحظ في المناطق الصحراوية بالمقارنة مع المناطق الساحلية حيث أنها الأقل.

وقد قام إيرينا إعداد تقرير تقييم جاهزية مصادر الطاقة المتجددة و في تعاون وثيق مع حكومة سلطنة عمان ممثلة في الهيئة العامة للكهرباء والمياه (PAEW)، لدراسة إمكانات استخدام الطاقة المتجددة. وتسعى الحكومة إلى استخدام كمية كبيرة من الطاقة الشمسية لتلبية الاحتياجات من الكهرباء الداخلية للبلاد، ووضع بعض منه للتصدير. وقد بدأت شركة تنمية نفط عمان (PDO) في الحفاظ على موارد الغاز الطبيعي في سلطنة عمان في إنتاج النفط الثقيل من خلال تسخير الطاقة الشمسية لإنتاج البخارلتعزيز النفط المستخرج (EOR).

كشفت دراسة بتكليف من الهيئة العامة للكهرباء والمياه (PAEW) أن ضوئية (PV) أنظمة مثبتة على المباني السكنية في السلطنة يمكن أن توفر ما يقدر ب 1.4 جيجاوات من الكهرباء. وتشير التقديرات إلى أن محافظة مسقط وحدها يمكن أن تولد 450 ميجاوات، على غرار محطة لتوليد الطاقة متوسطة الحجم التي تعتمد على الغاز.

التطورات الرئيسية
السلطة للكهرباء اللائحة عمان (آي إي آر) – منظم قطاع الطاقة في سلطنة عمان تتخذ خطوات لتمهيد الطريق لأصحاب المنازل لتثبيت الألواح الشمسية على السطح مع أي الكهرباء فائض أرسلت مرة أخرى إلى الشبكة الوطنية. بعض الشركات البارزة، بما في ذلك شركة كهرباء مجان، واحة المعرفة مسقط (واحة المعرفة مسقط) وجامعة السلطان قابوس قد اعتمدت بالفعل خطط تجريبها لتوليد الطاقة الشمسية.

نظرا لانخفاض تكاليف الضوئية (PV) لوحات، وأصبح إنتاج الطاقة الشمسية خيارا جذابا لعملية تحلية المياه. ويجري حاليا اختبار عمليات التحلية الحرارية الشمسية باستخدام تجميع الطاقة الشمسية في مشاريع رائدة، ومن المتوقع أن تصبح متوفرة مع الحلول التجارية قريبا.

مرآه مشروع للطاقة الشمسية الحرارية  يسعى لتسخير الطاقة الشمس لانتاج بخار يستخدم في إنتاج النفط. ومن المرجح أن يتم نشرها للتنمية في محافظة المنطقة الداخلية التي تعد واحدة من أكبر مشاريع الطاقة الشمسية في الاستراتيجية الوطنية للطاقة في سلطنة عمان عام 2040.

وقد توجت عمان بالفعل في جذب المستثمرين من القطاع الخاص إلى السلطنة وإنتاج المياه من خلال تقديم اتفاقيات شراء الطاقة. وقد شرعت الحكومة في مهمة فتح سوق أقوى والمستدام و إعطاء شركات النفط فرصة لتعزيز موطئ قدم لها في البلاد لمواجهة خطر استنفاد موارد النفط.

و مع ذلك، هناك تحديات ناشئة عن عدم إشراك أصحاب المصلحة في سياسات تأطير وفي صنع القرار؛ وعدم وجود سياسات التنظيمية في قطاع الطاقة المتجددة و الذي يعيق وتيرة التنمية. هناك حاجة لتقييم الموارد المحددة من أجل تحديد إمكانيات السوق وينبغي أن تكون مجالاً من مجالات البحث الرئيسية.

الآفاق المستقبلية 

ومن المتوقع أن تصبح الطاقة الشمسية في سلطنة عمان أرخص تدريجيا في المستقبل القريب، ويمكن أن يكون أفضل عائد للاستثمارات. ويتحدد نجاحها بمجرد السياسات التنظيمية والحوافز الحكومة المالية والتمويل العام. التحديات التي تواجهها صناعة الطاقة الشمسية تدخل إلى السوق التي كانت أساسا تهيمن عليها صناعة النفط. وينبغي توفير الإعانات والحوافز من قبل الحكومة في شكل تغذية في التعريفات وذلك لطمأنة سعر سند للكهرباء بيعها إلى الشبكة الوطنية خلال دمج تقنيات الطاقة الشمسية في توليد الطاقة.

miraah-solar-project

هناك حاجة ماسة للدعم السياسي للطاقة المتجددة لتأخذ المنافسة في السوق الحرة. يجب أن تكون القوانين التي تحكم تنظيم توليد الطاقة أن توفر المزيد من المرونة لمصادر الطاقة المتجددة ويجب أن تكون وجهة حافزة لجذب أصحاب المصلحة. البيئة الإيجابية للاستثمار وحقوق الملكية قوية وأنظمة ضريبية منخفضة و مشاركة الشركات العالمية الرائدة المختصة في قطاع الطاقة كل هذه بالتأكيد تساعد في تعزيز تطبيقات الطاقة الشمسية. وتحتاج البلاد إلى وضع خطط استراتيجية واضحة للمستقبل في مجال تطوير الطاقة الشمسية.

مع موارد الطاقة الشمسية القوية والجامعات القائمة، عمان لديها فرصة مهنية ظاهرة وقدرة على الرصد باعتبارها مزود تكنولوجي دولي و قيامها بدور نشط في إقامة قاعدة المهارات المهنية متقدمة في مجال العلوم والهندسة وتوسيع مناطقها بالعمارة الحديثة مستخدمة الطاقة الشمسية وإدارة الطاقة.
ولكن يبقى السؤال: هل يمكن للطاقة الشمسية إحداث ثورة التغييرفي سلطنة عمان؟

 

ترجمة:

بدرية الكيومي- بكالوريوس علوم بيئية

Solar Energy in Oman: Potential and Progress

Oman-renewable-energySolar energy is a vital and strategic solution for the provision of electric power in the Sultanate of Oman. Given the vast unused land and available solar energy resources, Oman has an excellent potential for solar energy development and deployment. Solar energy is a viable option in Oman and could not only cater to the growing need for energy diversification but also would help in economic diversification.

With a total dependence on fossil fuels and increasing population combined with rapid industrialization in cities such as Duqm, Sohar and Salalah, Oman’s power infrastructure and hydrocarbon reserves pose a challenge on the economic growth. The strategic importance and geographical location of Oman makes it viable to harness renewable energy technologies on both, smaller and larger scales, for further development of its economy. It not only helps in reducing dependence in fossil fuels but also helps in creating a cleaner and sustainable environment.  Research and development and high-technology services related to renewable energy could create new business and employment in Oman and could bring about a paradigm change in diversification of Oman’s economy.

Solar Power Potential in Oman

Oman receives a tremendous amount of solar radiation throughout the year which is among the highest in the world, and there is significant scope for harnessing and developing solar energy resources throughout the Sultanate.  The global average daily sunshine duration and solar radiation values for 25 locations in Oman are tremendous, with Marmul having the highest solar radiation followed by Fahud, Sohar and Qairoon Hairiti. The highest insolation of solar energy is observed is in the desert areas as compared to the coastal areas where it is least.

A Renewables Readiness Assessment report was prepared by IRENA in close collaboration with the Government of Oman, represented by the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW), to study potential usage of renewable energy. The government seeks to utilize a sizeable amount of solar energy to meet the country’s domestic electricity requirements and develop some of it for export. The Petroleum Development of Oman (PDO) has initiated to conserve Oman’s natural gas resources in the production of heavy oil by harnessing solar energy to produce steam for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).

A study commissioned by the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) revealed that Photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on residential buildings in the Sultanate could offer an estimated 1.4 gigawatts of electricity. It is estimated that Muscat Governorate alone could generate a whopping 450 megawatts, similar to a mid-sized gas-based power plant.

Major Developments

The Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman (AER) – Oman’s power sector regulator is taking steps to pave the way for homeowners to install rooftop solar panels with any surplus electricity sent back into the national grid. Some prominent companies, including Majan Electricity Company, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and Sultan Qaboos University have already adopted piloted schemes to generate solar power.

Due to declining costs of photovoltaic (PV) panels, production of solar energy has become an attractive option for the process of water desalination. Solar thermal desalination processes using solar collectors are being tested in pilot projects and expected to soon become available as commercial solutions.

Miraah solar thermal project will harness the sun’s energy to produce steam used in oil production.

Miraah solar thermal project will harness the sun’s energy to produce steam used in oil production.

A combination of concentrated solar power and photovolatic technologies are likely to be deployed for the development in Dakhiliyah Governorate which is one of the largest solar energy projects in Oman's National Energy Strategy 2040 with a plant capacity of 200MW.

Oman has already geared up in attracting private investors to power and water production by offering Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).  The government has embarked on a mission of opening a stronger and sustainable market giving oil companies a chance to strengthen their footing in the country to tackle with the jeopardy posed by depleting oil resources.

However, there  are challenges arising out of the lack of involvement from stakeholders in framing polices and in decision making; and lack of regulatory policies, in the sector of renewable energy, is hindering its pace of development. Specific resource assessments are needed in order to determine the market potential and should be the key research areas.

Future Perspectives

Solar energy in Oman is expected to become progressively cheaper in the near future and could be a best return for investments.  Its success is merely determined by the government’s regulatory policies, fiscal incentives and public financing.  The challenges that the solar industry faces are entering into a market that has essentially been dominated by oil industry. Subsidies and incentives should be provided by the government in the form of feed in tariffs so as to reassure a guaranteed price for electricity sold to the national grid by merging solar power technologies in power generation.

There is a dire need for political support for renewable energy to take its competition, economically, in the free market. Laws governing power generation regulation should provide more flexibility for renewables and should be incentive-oriented to attract the stake holders.  

A positive investment environment, strong property rights and low tax regimes, with established participation in the power sector from leading international firms, will certainly boost solar energy applications. The country needs to develop clear strategic plans for future in the development of solar energy. If a quick and appropriate regulatory framework is not accelerated, neighboring countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), would take the benefits of becoming regional revolutionary leaders in the use of solar energy.

Parting Shot

With its strong solar resources and existing universities, Oman has an opportunity to pioneer professional demonstration and monitoring capability as an international technology provider and take an active role to establish advanced professional skills base in science and engineering and expand its arenas in modern solar-efficient architecture and energy management.

But the question still remains: Can the solar power bring about a revolutionary change to power most of Oman?

References

http://esatjournals.net/ijret/2013v02/i07/IJRET20130207029.pdf – Volume: 02 Issue: 07 | Jul-2013, Available @ http://www.ijret.org

https://www.y-oman.com/2016/04/watts-up/

Renewable Energy Prospects in Kuwait

shagaya-renewable-energy-parkRenewable energy 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 2015. Al-Abdaliyah integrated solar project is another promising solar venture currently at pre-qualification stage, which will have a total capacity of 280 MW, out of which 60 MW will be contributed by solar thermal systems.

Potential of Renewables

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's 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 was 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 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.

Shagaya Renewable Energy Park

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 is to Kuwait as Masdar is to Abu Dhabi.

Shagaya is to Kuwait as Masdar is to Abu Dhabi.

Future Perspectives

The major driving 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. In recent years, the Middle East 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. However, 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. 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.

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 generation capacity and promote energy efficiency. Photovoltaics (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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مشاريع الطاقة المتجددة في الأردن لعام 2013 – بين التخطيط و التطبيق

أصبح البحث عن مصادر الطاقة المتجددة في الأردن هو الشغل الشاغل لجميع مسؤولين و باحثين كثر في هذا المجال , و رغم بطء التنفيذ و صعوبته أحيانا إلا أنه من الصعب التغاضي عن إيجاد طاقة بديلة عن النفط و الغاز في المملكة .حسب الإحصائيات الواردة في ندوة ( واقع الطاقة بين الاستهلاك والترشيد في الوطن العربي ) والتي عقدت في جامعة عمّان الأهلية ما بين أيلول و سبتمبر العام الحالي , فإن الأردن يستورد اكثر من 97% من مجمل احتياجاته من الطاقة، وان كلفة الطاقة المستوردة العام الماضي بلغت حوالي 4.6 مليار دينار، مشكلة 21% من الناتج المحلي الاجمالي .

وأوضح وزير الطاقة والثروة المعدنية الدكتور محمد حامد ان الأردن يواجه معدلات نمو سنوية مرتفعة في الطلب على الطاقة الاولية قياسا بالمستويات العالمية بلغت 5.5%، وبلغ حجم الاستهلاك الكلي من الطاقة الاولية العام الماضي 8 ملايين طن مكافئ نفط، وان نصيب الفرد من استهلاك الطاقة لذات العام 1250 كلغم مكافئ نفط، كما بلغ حجم استهلاك المملكة من الكهرباء عام 2012 حوالي 14275 ج.و.س،ونصيب الفرد من استهلاك الكهرباء 2230 ك.و.س وهي مستويات تزيد عن مثيلاتها في الدول النامية .

وأضاف ان مايزيد على 99.5% من سكان المملكة يتمتعون بخدمة التيار الكهربائي مقارنة ب 67% في العام 1975، وهو مؤشر على الزيادة الكبيرة التي طرأت على الاستهلاك نتيجة النمو الهائل والتطوير الكبير الذي شهدته المملكة .

مع وجود كل هذه الأرقام المتضخمة سنويا, هناك بعض المشاريع الجديّة التي تسعى بشكل دؤوب حول تأمين مصادر يمكن الإعتماد عليها مستقبلاً في المملكة بشكل أساسي . والطاقة الشمسية هي إحدى أهم مصادر الطاقة المتجددة , حيث أن عدد الأيام الشمسية في المملكة يزيد عن 300 يوم وبمعدل يتجاوز 8 ساعات يوميا .

و من هذه المشاريع التي تعتبر خلاصة عام 2013 لإنتاج الطاقة الشمسية في الأردن , وحدات الطاقة الشمسية لتوليد الكهرباء في مدرستي قرية الغويبة للذكور والإناث في لواء الأغوار الجنوبية، وذلك ضمن مشروع التعليم المستدام بدعم من الشركة الوطنية العربية للسيارات " كيا الأردن " . وهي خطوة سباقة أن يتم تدشين هكذا مشروع في أحد مدارس المملكة  .

أما على صعيد الجامعات الأردنية فهناك تقدم ملحوظ , حيث أقامت جامعتي البلقاء التطبيقية و الجامعة الهاشمية الحكوميتين مشروعي الخلايا الشمسية لتوليد الطاقة و تحقيق الإكتفاء الذاتي .

أطلقت وزارة الأوقاف و المقدسات الإسلامية في المملكة  مؤخرا مشروع (مسجدي) والذي يهدف إلى مشاركة القطاع الخاص في رعاية المساجد والمساهمة في نفقاتها بحيث يقوم أصحاب الأعمال في القطاع الخاص برعاية مساجد المنطقة التي يعملون بها تقربا إلى الله عز وجل وكجزء من مسؤوليتهم المجتمعية , وانطلاقا من هذا المشروع فقد قررت إدارة شركة " الأثير " للصرافة بالتبرع بنظام كهروضوئي لتوليد الكهرباء بواسطة الطاقة الشمسية لمسجد الوفاق الواقع في العاصمة عمان، مما يجعل منه المسجد الأول في الأردن الذي يعمل على الطاقة الشمسية .

و من المشاريع الملفتة حقيقة مشروع وحدات الخلايا الشمسية في مزارع منطقة الأزرق – الواقعة شرق المملكة – لاستخدامها في عدة مشاريع زراعية والتي تتلخص في : ادارة وتشغيل آلات ضخ المياه ، والبيوت البلاستيكية والزجاجية ، وتعقيم التربة ، وتجفيف المحاصيل والسماد العضوي ، وتفريخ الدجاج ، ومعالجة مياه الصرف الصحي والماء الراكد في البرك وذلك نظراً لارتفاع أسعار المحروقات والرغبة في تخفيض فاتورة النفقات الانتاجية .

وحسب بيانات رسمية، يحتاج الأردن حتى العام 2020 إلى استثمارات في قطاع الطاقة المتجددة تتراوح بين 1.8 و 2.2 مليار دولار لإنتاج 10 % من الكهرباء المولدة في المملكة في إطار الاستراتيجية الوطنية التي تسعى إلى رفع مساهمة المصادر المحلية من الطاقة في خليط الطاقة الكلي من 4 % العام 2007 إلى 39 % العام 2020. ويسابق الأردن الزمن لزيادة مصادره المحلية من الطاقة للتخفيف من ضغط فاتورة الطاقة على الموازنة العامة للدولة .

ويشار إلى أن الحكومة وضعت من خلال هيئة تنظيم قطاع الكهرباء أسعار استرشادية للطاقة الكهربائية المولدة بواسطة الطاقة المتجددة من خلال (مرجع قياسي) كحد أعلى, حيث قدرت سعر الكهرباء المولدة بواسطة الخلايا الشمسية بنحو 120 فلسا, ومن الطاقة الشمسية المركزة 135 فلسا.

و في ختام هذا الطرح لابد من تسليط الضوء على السيدة التي أثارت إعجاب العديد من الأردنيين و خصوصا رواد الطاقة المتجددة , السيدة " رفيعة " و التي قامت بإنارة 80 منزلا في البادية الشمالية الأردنية ,  قامت هذه السيدة البسيطة بعد جهد جهيد و عناء كسر حاجز ثقافة " عيب " الخاصة بالمرأة في المجتمعات البدوية بالسفر إلى الهند لتلتحق ببرنامج تدريبي مدته ستة أشهر يعلمها كيفية إنارة منزلها ومنازل قريتها باستخدام الطاقة الشمسية، وبدأ الشغف بالتعليم يظهر في الأيام الأولى من البرنامج، وهي تجلس بجانب سيدات من ثقافات مختلفة وتستمع إلى شرح المحاضر عن مكونات الخلايا الشمسية وتحفظ أسماء المكونات ووظيفة كل منها، وتدون ما تفهم في الدفتر .

وبعد مواجهتها لصعوبات المجتمع و التمويل في تطبيق مشروعها الذي اضطرها بمساعدة بعض المتطوعين و الخبراء في مجال الطاقة في الأردن من مخاطبة الحكومة الهندية لشراء المعدات وهذا ما حدث بالفعل . بعد الحصول على المنحة الهندية، نجحت أول سيدة أردنية خبيرة في مجال الطاقة الشمسية بإنارة 80 منزلا آخر في قريتها، ولا تزال قادرة على صنع المزيد إن آمنت حكومة أردنية بجدوى دعم مشروعها في افتتاح مركز لتدريب النساء على استخدام الطاقة الشمسية .

 

References

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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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Role of Agricultural Sector in Harnessing Renewable Energy

The continuous rise in fossil energy prices, combined with climate change concerns and progress in renewable energy sector, has catalyzed interest in clean energy systems across the MENA region, especially in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean region has abundant renewable resources, such as wind, solar, and biomass, which makes it a fertile zone for renewable energy developments. 

The agricultural sector has played a key role in the progress of renewable energy sector around the world as it provides large areas where renewable energy projects are built and is also the predominant feedstock source for biomass energy projects. For example, German agricultural sector accounts for one-fifth of the total installed PV capacity.

The main objective of this article is to explore the role that Mediterranean agricultural sector can play in tapping tremendous renewable energy potential available across the region.

Wind Energy

In countries where there is a lack of available land to build wind turbines, the agricultural sector is playing a key role by providing enough spaces. For instance, in Denmark farmer cooperatives are diversifying their incomes by investing in wind energy. Almost a quarter of wind energy sourced from wind turbines are owned by the Danish farmers. The same trend is taking place in Germany where farmers have established private companies to develop wind energy projects. Wind farms can be built in farms without any harmful impact on agricultural activities.

Wind energy potential is abundant across the Mediterranean region due to geographical location marked by a long coastline. The integration of wind energy projects in the agricultural sector is an interesting economic opportunity for agricultural enterprises in the region. However, as wind energy projects demand heavy capital, there is a need to mobilize funds to develop such projects.

In addition, there is need to create attractive financing mechanisms for farmers and to build their capacities in developing and managing wind projects. The development of wind energy projects owned by farmers will help them to have an extra revenue stream. It will also lead to decentralization of electricity production, which will not only reduce transmission losses but also decrease reliance on the national grid.

Solar Energy

The Mediterranean region receives one of the highest solar radiation in the world. Large availability of unexploited lands in the region, especially in the Eastern and Southern countries, makes solar energy systems, especially photovoltaics an attractive proposition for regional countries.  Agricultural farms in the Mediterranean region can use PV systems for domestic as well as commercial power generation.  In addition, there are a handful of applications in agricultural sector such as water pumping and irrigation.

Off-grid photovoltaic systems ensure a reliable and completely autonomous water supply at low cost – without fuel-powered generators, battery systems or long power lines. Solar energy can make irrigation independent of grid power. Low-pressure drip irrigation systems can be operated with any photovoltaic-powered pump, making them ideal for areas not connected to the grid. Photovoltaic projects require low capital investment and can be developed at small-to-medium scales.

Bioenergy

A variety of fuels can be produced from agricultural biomass resources including liquid fuels, such as ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, and gaseous fuels, such as hydrogen and methane. The agricultural resources include animal manure and crop residues derived primarily from maize, corn and small grains. A variety of regionally significant crops, such as cotton, sugarcane, rice, and fruit and nut orchards can also be a source of crop residues.

Globally, biofuels are most commonly used to power vehicles, heat homes, and for cooking. Biofuels are generally considered as offering many priorities, including sustainability, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, regional development, social structure and agriculture, and security of supply.        

One of the species that is cultivated and exploited for these purposes is Jatropha curcas which is widely cultivated in Brazil and India for producing biodiesel. Jatropha can be successfully grown in arid regions of the Mediterranean for biodiesel production. These energy crops are highly useful in preventing soil erosion and shifting of sand-dunes. Infact, Jatropha is already grown at limited scale in some Middle East countries, especially Egypt,  and tremendous potential exists for its commercial exploitation.

Conclusion

The time has come for industries in the Mediterranean region, especially the agricultural sector, to undertake the shift necessary to contribute to sustainable development of the MENA region by making the best use of latest technological developments in renewable energy sector.

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Solar Energy in Jordan

The solar energy potential in Jordan is enormous as it lies within the solar belt of the world with average solar radiation ranging between 5 and 7 KWh/m2, which implies a potential of at least 1000GWh per year annually. Solar energy, like other forms of renewable energy, remains underutilized in Jordan. Decentralized photovoltaic units in rural and remote villages are currently used for lighting, water pumping and other social services (1000KW of peak capacity). In addition, about 15% of all households are equipped with solar water heating systems.

Jordan has major plans for increasing the use of solar energy. As per the Energy Master Plan, 30 percent of all households are expected to be equipped with solar water heating system by the year 2020. The Government is hoping to construct the first Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) demonstration project in the short to medium term and is considering Aqaba and the south-eastern region for this purpose. It is also planning to have solar desalination plant. According to the national strategy the planned installed capacity will amount to 300MW – 600MW (CSP, PV and hybrid power plants) by 2020.

One of the most promising potential investments in renewable energy worldwide will be installing more than 250 MW of concentrated solar power (CSP) in Jordan’s Ma’an development zone through different projects developed by the private sector. The upcoming CSP solar power plants in Ma'an would highlight Jordan's strategy of sustainable energy diversification. The Ma'an Development Area enjoys about 320 days of sunshine a year, with a high level of irradiance that allows over 2500 million kWh of primary energy to be harvested annually from each square kilometre.  At full capacity, the planned flagship CSP plant could meet some 4% of the Kingdom's electricity needs, reducing the reliance on electricity imports from neighbouring countries. Surplus energy could in turn be sold to Syria, Egypt and Palestine, whose networks are connected to Jordan.

Qawar Energy in partnership with Maan Development Area (MDA) has recently announced the launch of its $400 million Shams Ma’an Project, a 100MW photovoltaic (PV) power plant project to come up at the MDA industrial park in Jordan. The project, being undertaken in partnership with MDA, is spread across a two million m2 area, and expected to be ready in 2012. On completion, it will be the largest PV plant in the world that will position Jordan on the global renewable energy map attracting investments, technologies and knowhow. It aims to utilize approximately 360,000 to 2 million PV/CPV panels and produce around 168 GWh per year

California-based company Ausra has been chosen to supply solar steam boilers to the 100MW JOAN1 concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) project in development in Ma’an. The JOAN1 project is expected to enter operation in 2013 and will be the largest CSP project in the world using direct solar steam generation. JOAN1 will be based on Ausra’s reflector technology to power the plant’s solar steam cycle and generate up to 100 MW of electricity. JOAN1 will use dry cooling to conserve water. Ausra plans to install an advanced manufacturing facility in Jordan in order to supply JOAN1 with its solar steam boilers.

 

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