Energy Outlook for the Middle East

There are several problems confronting the world with respect to its fossil fuels-based energy supply. The first problem relates to the ever-increasing use of fast-depleting conventional sources of energy, like petroleum, coal and natural gas. The contribution of fossil fuels in global energy supplies is above 80 percent. Energy demand will certainly increase manifolds during this century due to industrial and developmental activities as burgeoning world population.

Global Trends

The concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere is rising rapidly with use of fossil fuels leading to increasing emission of carbon dioxide which is having a detrimental effect on the climate. Another important issue is the security and stability of energy supply. Most of the fossil fuel reserves are concentrated in politically unstable regions, and increasing the diversity in energy sources is important for many nations to secure a reliable and constant supply of energy.

Energy trends in emerging economies are of global environmental concern as these countries are important contributors to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use and industrial activities. Deforestation and the emission of other greenhouse gases, such as methane and NOx, further raise the share of developing countries in total global GHGs gas emissions. Although per capita levels of greenhouse emissions from energy use are much lower in developing industrial countries, rapid population and economic growth will increase their share of total emissions. The magnitude of these problems underlines the need for improving the efficiency of energy systems and fast-paced development of the renewable energy sector in such countries.

Energy Outlook for the Middle East

Energy use in the Middle East has increased manifolds over the past few decades and will continue its rapid ascent rapidly in the future. The increase in the services that energy provides is necessary and desirable, since energy services are essential for economic growth, improved living standards, and community development applications.

The fast economic growth in the Middle East puts onus on regional powers to devise new energy solutions and establish new and innovative sustainable energy trends. The energy demand in this region will grow rapidly which will have a profound impact on the global energy market. In addition, the region has many locations with high population density, which makes public health vulnerable to the pollution caused by fossil fuels.

Due to the rising share of GHG emissions from the Middle East, it is imperative on all regional countries to promote sustainable energy to significantly reduce GHGs emissions and foster dynamic economic growth. Rising proportion of greenhouse gas emissions from the region’s energy consumption is causing ecological degradation which may further deteriorate environmental sustainability in the region and globally. The adverse impacts of economic and ecological vulnerability would have profound implications for social inclusiveness, as the burden is being unevenly distributed among the countries in the region.

Energy scenarios for the 21st century are shifting away from fossil fuels and towards renewable and sustainable sources of energy. The potential role of alternative energy technologies in transforming Middle East energy outlook and addressing climate change concerns is enormous. Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal can provide sustainable energy, based on a host of readily available, indigenous resources that result in very low emissions of greenhouse gases.

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Industrial Symbiosis Prospects in Jordan

In a developing country, such as Jordan, with a relatively emerging economy and limited natural resources, the industrial sector expends more effort than developed countries and even more than developing countries that are rich in natural resources. In such a situation industries should look into finding solutions to sustain their existence, which is not confined to keeping their production lines running and making profit, but it goes beyond that, it goes to a whole way of thinking a way that integrates the surrounding environment and that confirms on the industrial sector responsibility toward the environment, the home of its raw material. Basically, this is what can be called as Industrial Sustainability.

“Sustainable industrial development means doing more with less – increasing eco-efficiency, that is, decreasing the level of pollution and at the same time the amount of energy, material and other inputs required to produce a given product or service.

A concept that can be very important to attaining Industrial Sustainability is Industrial Symbiosis which offers a very feasible solution to a tight economic status. Especially that the payback that emerges from applying such a concept in the right conditions and circumstances exist makes is tempting. The benefits range from reducing the amount of waste released to the environment; reducing the cost of waste disposal and the cost of purchasing raw materials to even achieving better socio-economic status by generating new income source and employment opportunities.

Marian Chertow, a pioneer in Industrial Symbiosis, has acknowledged that Industrial symbiosis engages traditionally separate industries in a collective approach to competitive advantage involving physical exchange of materials, energy, water, and/or by products. The keys to industrial symbiosis are collaboration and the synergistic possibilities offered by geographic proximity"

Many industrial clusters over the developed countries has merged the Industrial Symbiosis concept with their environmental management systems, some saw failure and the other witnessed great success and benefits. Together failure and success emerged lessons learned. One of the very successful experiences developed and still existing Kalundborg, Denmark which has been described as an evolutionary process in which a number of independent by-products exchanges have gradually evolved into a complex web of symbiotic interactions, many studies show that this Industrial Symbiosis network has contributed significantly in reducing environmental impacts and increasing economical benefits over the years.

During my research journey in 2011 to investigate Industrial Symbioses existence or potential opportunities in Jordan, in which Zarqa Free Zone was taken as a study sample, it was concluded that there are some forms of waste exchange in the zone but it still did not reach the minimum criteria of Industrial Symbiosis. The potential and willingness from industries do exist to form an Industrial Symbiosis network especially that it could generate additional income to their business.

Many challenges were identified that could hold back the Zarqa Free Zone from adopting Industrial Symbiosis in its environmental management, such as the lack of adequate database that list the important data for evaluating any exchange such as the type and quantity of waste released from each industry. The current fluctuating financial situation is another obstacle that could be distracting industries from looking into best environmental practices. All in all, the challenges found could be solved by offering economical incentives and promoting successful pilot projects.In Jordan, national and political schemes have the opportunity to adapt, integrate and encourage such a concept.

References

  1. Awad Taleb (NA), Determinants of Economic Growth in Jordan, DAAD Partnership
  2. Wolf, Anna (2007), Industrial Symbiosis in the Swedish Forest Industry (Electronic Version), Linköping Institute of Technology, Linköping, Sweden
  3. Jaworski, John (NA), Application of Biotechnology to Industrial Sustainability, OCED, Canda

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Trends in Sustainable Housing

There has been large-scale proliferation in construction of buildings worldwide due to population growth, economic development, urbanization and migration. According to UN Habitat, there has been a migration of the world's population from rural areas to cities or smaller urban areas. In fact, this trend is expected to continue and cities within the developed as well as developing nations are expected to grow in terms of population. As a result all forms of construction activities are expected to become more intense than ever in the years to come.

Usually the development of urban areas suffers from weak process of planning and control which lead to bad housing conditions, poor sanitation system, limited electricity and water supply, and often poverty.  These issues coupled with high population growth rate, environmental degradation, global warming and limited non-renewable resources highlights the importance of sustainable housing for the survival of humankind.

Sustainability in Buildings

Building construction and operation have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. Buildings use resources such as energy, water and raw materials, generate a variety of wastes and emit potentially harmful gases. Basically the environmental impacts of buildings take place within six stages of building lifecycle:

  • Design process
  • Material or product manufacture
  • Distribution
  • Construction phase
  • Operation
  • Refurbishment or demolition

In terms of energy consumption, 60 percent of the world’s electricity is consumed by residential and commercial building. Space heating accounts for 60 percent of residential energy consumption and water heating for 18 percent in developed countries. Therefore radical changes must be made in design and performance of the buildings to reduce energy consumption and its corresponding environmental impact.

In many countries, sustainable construction methods are being adopted to lead the building industry towards sustainable development and provide better quality living environment. Basically sustainable building design and construction intend to diminish environmental impacts of building over its entire lifetime by paying attention to environmental, socio-economic and cultural issues.

Trends Around the World

The developed and developing world is facing sustainable housing and urbanization challenge in different ways.  Currently industrialized countries are the highest contributor in CO2 emissions. However it is expected that developing countries will take the lead in global warming in the near future. Developing countries are experiencing fast-paced urbanization and at the same time slums and informal settlements are also expanding rapidly which makes development of sustainable housing a difficult proposition.

Countries around the world are taking steps towards implementing sustainable design in the building sector. However most of them are still far from reaching the intended targets.  The major barriers in implementing energy efficiency in the building sector include:

  • Economic and financial issues;
  • Structural characteristics of political, economic and energy system; and
  • Lack of awareness and information

However different countries adopt different approaches for sustainable construction and set different priorities, depending on their economic condition. Nations with high economic growth are developing sustainable buildings making use of latest technologies and innovations. In case of developing countries, social equality and economic sustainability are foremost considerations. In fact, developing countries are moving slowly or even negative towards adopting sustainable housing strategies.

As far as Middle East is concerned, economic considerations dominate for oil and gas-rich GCC countries as they protect their oil and gas export reserves by investing in new ways to boost energy efficiency and lower energy consumption. However for less-affluent countries, such as Jordan, lack of indigenous energy resources and high energy costs are the primary reasons for implementation of sustainable design strategies in buildings.

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