A Primer on Landfill Gas Recovery

Landfill gas (or LFG) is generated during the natural process of bacterial decomposition of organic material contained in municipal solid waste landfills or garbage dumps. The waste is covered and compressed mechanically as well as by the weight of the material that is deposited above. This material prevents oxygen from accessing the waste thus producing ideal conditions for anaerobic microorganism to flourish. This gas builds up and is slowly released into the atmosphere if the landfill site has not been engineered to capture the gas.

The rate of production is affected by waste composition and landfill geometry, which in turn influence the bacterial populations within it, chemical make-up, thermal range of physical conditions and biological ecosystems co-existing simultaneously within most sites. This heterogeneity, together with the frequently unclear nature of the contents, makes landfill gas production more difficult to predict and control.

Composition of Landfill Gas

Landfill gas is approximately forty to sixty percent methane, with the remainder being mostly carbon dioxide. Landfill gas also contains varying amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapour, hydrogen sulphide, and other contaminants. Most of these other contaminants are known as “non-methane organic compounds” or NMOCs. Some inorganic contaminants (for example mercury) are also known to be present in landfill gas. There are sometimes also contaminants (for example tritium) found in landfill gas. The non-methane organic compounds usually make up less than one percent of landfill gas.

Hazards of Landfill Gas

This gas starts creating pressure within the surface of earth when no exit route is present. Excessive pressure leads to sudden explosion that can cause serious harm to people living in the surrounding areas. Due to the constant production of landfill gas, the increase in pressure within the landfill (together with differential diffusion) causes the gas’s release into the atmosphere. Such emissions lead to important environmental, hygiene and security problems in the landfill.

Accidents due to landfill gas explosions are not uncommon around the world. For example a mishap took place at Loscoe, England in 1986, where migrating landfill gas, which was allowed to build up, partially destroyed the property. Landfills in the Middle East are notorious for spontaneous fires and toxic emissions. Due to the risk presented by landfill gas there is a clear need to monitor gas produced by landfills. In addition to the risk of fire and explosion, gas migration in the subsurface can result in contact of landfill gas with groundwater. This, in turn, can result in contamination of groundwater by organic compounds present in nearly all landfill gas.

Treatment of Landfill Gas

Depending on the end use, landfill gas must be treated to remove impurities, condensate, and particulates. Minimal treatment is needed for the direct use of gas in boiler, furnaces, or kilns. Using the gas in electricity generation typically requires more in-depth treatment. Primary processing systems remove moisture and particulates. Gas cooling and compression are common in primary processing. Secondary treatment systems employ multiple cleanup processes, physical and chemical, depending on the specifications of the end use.

Uses of Landfill Gas

Landfill gas can be converted to high calorific value gas by reducing its carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen content which can be piped into existing natural gas pipelines or in the form of CNG (compressed natural gas) or LNG (liquid natural gas). CNG and LNG can be used on site to power hauling trucks or equipment or sold commercially. The gas can also be used for combined heat and power generation or industrial heating purposes. For example, the City of Sioux Falls in South Dakota installed a landfill gas collection system which collects, cools, dries, and compresses the gas into an 11-mile pipeline. The gas is then used to power an ethanol plant operated.

Landfill Gas Recovery Projects in Middle East

The number of landfill gas projects, which convert the methane gas that is emitted from decomposing garbage into power, has seen significant increase around the world, including the Middle East. These projects are popular because they control energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Landfill gas recovery projects collect and treat the methane gas, so it can be used for electricity or upgraded to pipeline-grade quality to power homes, buildings, and vehicles.

Dubai Municipality has commissioned the region's largest landfill gas recovery system at its Al Qusais Landfill site. The Al Qusais Landfill is one of the largest sites for municipal waste collection in Dubai receiving about 5,000 tons daily. Construction work for the landfill gas project involved drilling of horizontal and vertical gas wells 22 metres deep into the waste to extract the landfill gas.

The Government of Jordan, in collaboration with UNDP, GEF and the Danish Government, established 1MW landfill gas recovery cum biogas plant at Rusaifeh landfill near Amman in 1999.  The project consists of a system of twelve landfill gas wells and an anaerobic digestion plant based on 60 tons per day of organic wastes from hotels, restaurants and slaughterhouses in Amman. 

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Combined Heat and Power Systems

Combined Heat and Power (CHP), or Cogeneration, is the sequential or simultaneous generation of multiple forms of useful energy (usually mechanical and thermal) in a single, integrated system. In conventional electricity generation systems, about 35% of the energy potential contained in the fuel is converted on average into electricity, whilst the rest is lost as waste heat.

CHP systems uses both electricity and heat and therefore can achieve an efficiency of up to 90%, giving energy savings between 15-40% when compared with the separate production of electricity from conventional power stations and of heat from boilers.

CHP systems consist of a number of individual components—prime mover (heat engine), generator, heat recovery, and electrical interconnection—configured into an integrated whole. The type of equipment that drives the overall system (i.e., the prime mover) typically identifies the CHP unit. 

Prime movers for CHP units include reciprocating engines, combustion or gas turbines, steam turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells. These prime movers are capable of burning a variety of fuels, including natural gas, coal, oil, and alternative fuels to produce shaft power or mechanical energy.

CHP Technology Options

Reciprocating or internal combustion engines (ICEs) are among the most widely used prime movers to power small electricity generators. Advantages include large variations in the size range available, fast start-up, good efficiencies under partial load efficiency, reliability, and long life.

Steam turbines are the most commonly employed prime movers for large power outputs. Steam at lower pressure is extracted from the steam turbine and used directly or is converted to other forms of thermal energy. System efficiencies can vary between 15 and 35% depending on the steam parameters.

Co-firing of biomass with coal and other fossil fuels can provide a short-term, low-risk, low-cost option for producing renewable energy while simultaneously reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Biomass can typically provide between 3 and 15 percent of the input energy into the power plant. Most forms of biomass are suitable for co-firing. 

Steam engines are also proven technology but suited mainly for constant speed operation in industrial environments. Steam engines are available in different sizes ranging from a few kW to more than 1 MWe.

A gas turbine system requires landfill gas, biogas, or a biomass gasifier to produce the gas for the turbine. This biogas must be carefully filtered of particulate matter to avoid damaging the blades of the gas turbine.  

Stirling engines utilize any source of heat provided that it is of sufficiently high temperature. A wide variety of heat sources can be used but the Stirling engine is particularly well-suited to biomass fuels. Stirling engines are available in the 0.5 to 150 kWe range and a number of companies are working on its further development.

A micro-turbine recovers part of the exhaust heat for preheating the combustion air and hence increases overall efficiency to around 20-30%. Several competing manufacturers are developing units in the 25-250kWe range. Advantages of micro-turbines include compact and light weight design, a fairly wide size range due to modularity, and low noise levels. 

Saudi ARAMCO's CHP Initiatives

Recently ARAMCO announced the signing of agreements to build and operate cogeneration plants at three major oil and gas complexes in Saudi Arabia. These agreements demonstrate ARAMCO's commitment to pursue energy efficiency in its operation. Upon completion, the cogeneration plants will meet power and heating requirements at Abqaiq, Hawiya and Ras Tanura plants. These plants are expected to generate a total on 900MW of power and 1,500 tons of steam per hour when they come onstream in 2016.

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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 unescapable 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. 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 differsaccording 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.

Contributing 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 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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Clean Energy Resources in Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is heavily dependent on oil imports from neighbouring countries to meet its energy requirements. The huge cost associated with energy imports creates a financial burden on the national economy and Jordan had to spend almost 20% of its GDP on the purchase of energy in 2008.

Electricity demand is growing rapidly, and the Jordanian government has been seeking ways to attract foreign investment to fund additional capacity. In 2008, the demand for electricity in Jordan was 2,260 MW, which is expected to rise to 5,770 MW by 2020. Therefore, provision of reliable and clean energy supply will play a vital role in Jordan’s economic growth.

In 2007, the Government unveiled an Energy Master Plan for the development of the energy sector, requiring an investment of more than $3 billion between the year 2007 and 2020. The major target of the Plan is to enhance the contribution of renewable energy in the energy mix to 7 percent by 2015 and upto 10 percent by 2020. Concerted efforts are underway to remove barriers to exploitation of renewable energy, particularly wind, solar and biomass. 

Renewable Energy Scenario

Jordan has been a pioneer in renewable energy promotion in the Middle East with its first wind power pilot project in Al-Ibrahemiya as early as 1988. Systematic monitoring of the technological developments and implementation/execution of demonstration and pilot projects has been the hallmark of Jordan’s foray into clean energy sector. However, renewable energy remains largely untapped due to high cost associated with non-conventional energy resources and relatively cheap availability of oil and natural gas.

With high population growth rate, increase in industrial and commercial activities, high cost of imported energy fuels and higher GHGs emissions, supply of cheap and clean energy resources has become a challenge for the Government. Consequently, the need for implementing energy efficiency measures and exploring renewable energy technologies has emerged as a national priority.  

Wind energy is feasible mainly in areas overlooking the Jordan Valley and Wadi Araba. Solar energy potential is also high since many parts of the country experience 300 to 320 days of full sunshine throughout the year. Biomass energy potential is also attractive in the form of urban wastes, organic industrial wastes and animal manure. With rapid technological advancements, other sources such as waste-to-energy, hydro power and geothermal energy are also realistic options.

Presently, Jordan has 1MW biogas plant that utilizes methane from biochemical decomposition of organic waste for electricity production. Expansions are underway to increase the total capacity to 5 MW. There are 2 MW wind farms at Hofa and Al‐Ibrahimiyah in the north working successfully. Moreover, there is an area of 1.35 million m2 of installed solar water heaters panels in Jordan, and a 150 KWh of installed photovoltaic power. In addition, there are 25 solar water heaters factories in Jordan which produce 4000 solar water heater annually.

Future plans include three wind parks with a total capacity of 125‐150 MW, and a hybrid Solar Power Plants (CSP) with a capacity of 100‐250 MW. 60% of the wind turbine parts in the wind parks are supposed to be provided by local wind turbine manufacturers. Meanwhile, private consortiums are looking to establish photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants in the Ma’an area. 

The €10-million ‘Capacity Building in Wind Energy and Concentrated Solar Power’ project, funded by the European Union, will support Jordan's National Energy Research Centre (NERC) to steer and facilitate the implementation of the Jordanian government's Renewable Energy Strategy 2007-2020 by installing a wind testing facility, as well as a pilot Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant.

Investment in Clean Energy

Jordan has tremendous wind, solar and biomass energy potential which can only be realized by large-scale investments. This transition from conventional fuels to renewable energy resources will require capital investments, technology transfer and human resources development, through a package of investments estimated at US $ 1.4 – 2.2 billion. The investment package includes Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) deals for wind energy with a total capacity of 660 MW and solar energy plants of 600 MW. This will be paralleled with the reduction of energy produced from oil from 58% currently to 40% in 2020. The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) is actively seeking support for renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives through continuous cooperation with international partners and donors.

The best prospects for electricity generation in Jordan are as Independent Power Producers (IPPs).  This creates tremendous opportunities for foreign investors interested in investing in electricity generation ventures. Keeping in view the renewed interest in renewable energy, there is a huge potential for international technology companies to enter the Jordan market.  There is very good demand for wind energy equipments, solar power units and waste-to-energy systems which can be capitalized by technology providers and investment groups.

Government Initiatives

The government has also established a new Energy Fund to support the infrastructure development of new renewable energy facilities. In addition the government is seeking to provide tax incentives to remove the barriers for the comprehensive use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in the Jordanian market. 

The strategy will be supported by a "Renewable Energy Law" which includes regulations and incentives for renewable energy production from investments in areas designated to be utilized to build renewable energy facilities. The law provides investors with a lot of incentives including 100 percent exemption from income tax for 10 years. 

Private companies with renewable energy projects will now be able to negotiate directly with the Energy Ministry as part of a series of changes to the sector. Investments in renewable energy will be quicker as part of sweeping changes included in the recently endorsed Renewable Energy Law.

One of the major components of the legislation allows local and international companies to bypass a competitive bidding process and negotiate with the ministry directly to establish renewable energy projects. Also under the law, the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) will be obligated to purchase any and all electricity produced by renewable energy power plants. The law will also allow citizens with solar power or wind turbines to sell electricity back to their electricity provider. 


There has been significant progress in the implementation of clean energy systems in Jordan, with active support from the government and increasing awareness among the local population. In the recent past, Jordan has witnessed a surge in initiatives to generate power from renewable resources with financial and technical backing from the government, international agencies and foreign donors.  Jordan has the potential to become a regional energy hub characterised by political as well as economic stability.  The already accomplished projects and studies in this field has provided Jordan with scientific and practical experience, qualifying it for entering a new phase of renewable energy development by means of cooperation between local institutions and foreign companies. 

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Energy Efficiency in MENA – A Tool to Reduce GHG Emissions

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the largest oil-exporting region in the world. Around 85 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions come from energy production, electricity generation, industrial sector and domestic energy consumption. Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia figure among the world’s top-10 per capita carbon emitters. Without a change in energy policies and energy consumption behavior, MENA‘s energy-related GHG emissions will continue to grow. Presently, MENA countries are heavily dependent on fossil fuels to meet their energy requirement which is a major challenge in climate change mitigation efforts. However it also encourages local governments to craft policies and adapt stringent environmental regulations to reduce the GHG emissions.

Energy Efficiency Prospects

There is a great potential for MENA region to cut the projected GHG emissions growth by adopting energy-efficiency programs in commercial industrial and domestic sector. MENA governments need to create a policy environment that rewards energy-efficient choices and encourages innovation through both consumers and businesses. The Middle East electricity market is growing at an accelerating rate due to higher consumption rates in the private, commercial and industrial sectors. This results in the need for a successful implementation strategy that can bridge the gap between the current supply and increasing demand.

The MENA region has great ambitious plans and already adapted an efficient energy programs aiming to achieve real energy efficiency gains related to environment. An immediate gain of adapting energy efficiency policy is to be seen in elevating consumers’ energy awareness, improving energy products procurement and services, reducing pollutant and saving money.

MENA governments should put energy efficiency at the top of energy policy agenda with a committed goal to reduce GHG emissions through energy efficiency programs. For example, Obama’s administration has focused on the importance of energy efficiency investment programs as an engine of economic growth and environment conservation in the United States. According to President Obama, “energy efficiency is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to make our economy stronger and cleaner.” 

Energy Efficiency Outlook

There is a wide array of measures which could help MENA countries in promoting and implementing policies to moderate increasing energy demand and reduce pollution in the generating, transmitting, and distributing energy from power plants.  Energy conservation may not yet be a way of life in the Middle East but the rapid changes being seen there are an indicator of what is to come. Formal energy efficiency programs and voluntary measures combined will help the region to maintain its economic strength in the region. Energy conservation programs in residential, commercial and industrial sectors can significantly reduce carbon emissions and augment energy supply in the MENA region.

Across the MENA region, there is a growing interest in renewable energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, which could enable regional countries to adopt a green economy and cut down on fossil fuel consumption. In the transportation sector there are many energy-efficient adaptations to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions, like public transportation, carpooling, electric vehicles and alternative fuels. MENA countries can adapt new alternatives to fossil fuels such as fuel cells, bioethanol and biogas. 

The linkage between energy efficiency adaptations and GHG emission is crucial in the fight against global warming. Emerging technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) involves the capture of carbon dioxide from power plants and large industrial sources, and then injection into deep underground geological formations for long-term storage. CCS can not only reduce carbon emissions from power generation sector but also expand renewable energy capacity and increase energy efficiency.

Another attractive energy conservation method is Smart Grid which involves modernizing the system of transmitting electricity all the way from generation to end use. Unlike the tradition electricity meters, the smart meters provides consumers with situational awareness about how much electricity are consuming per unit of output. Smart grid offers an excellent opportunity to modernize power infrastructure, lay the foundation for energy management, provide new employment opportunities and ultimately reduce region’s dependence on fossil fuels.


The Middle East region has the highest per capita carbon footprint in the world which can be offset by mass deployment of energy-efficient systems. An improved energy efficiency plan for MENA region (in both supply and use) will help in mitigating the domestic and global environmental impact of energy by reducing both atmospheric particulate matter and GHG emissions.

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Zero Emissions Day: Our Planet is Counting on Us

The Zero Emissions Day or ‘Ze Day’ aims to put the Global 24 hour Moratorium on the Combustion of Fossil Fuels. The day started on March 21, 2008 with the launch of a website calling for “A Global Moratorium on Fossil Fuel Combustion on September 21” in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The message, “Giving our planet one day off a year”, was simple yet profound and was translated into 12 languages for easy reach of people. The idea behind is of giving everything a ‘rest day’ so why not for emissions and environment.

The notion behind the Zero Emissions Day is that stopping, resting, recharging and reflecting was no doubt a mechanism built into many world cultures and traditions. Through the contribution of many environmentalists, the global call to stop the emissions went online at www.zeroemissionsday.org and has been very successful since it is intended to be a temporary respite from using fossil fuels, to increase awareness of this finite resource and how we might change our actions on a daily basis to conserve it.

We need to be aware of our consumption of fossil fuels. Electricity derived from fossil fuels is the biggest contributor to air emissions in the developed and developing countries. These emissions contribute to smog, acid rain, climate change, and other factors. In turn, climate change is believed to create conditions that cause catastrophic events like forest fires, disease breakouts, and droughts. We all know how much energy we are consuming as a nation, community and as an individual. The governments all over the world are spending huge amount of money on electricity generation and transmission and providing this basic utility to its people. On the other hand, more electrical and electronic gadgets are being added to our daily life which all consumes electricity.

Thus, we have to take care of our resources and develop a genuine understanding that such energy consuming attitude is not good for us and is harming our fragile environment. The message of the day is that “You have the power to benefit everyone and everything on our planet.” The celebration of the Ze day is a simple call for collective action to take some of the pressure off our dying world. It’s important because it shows us what a day without fossil fuel use can feel like. The idea of Ze Day is simple – don’t burn oil, gas or coal and minimize your electricity use. Do this for just one day. More and more people, families and communities are declaring Zero Emissions Days whenever they please and just for the fun of it. People who have had the experience have been transformed deeply by it. 

The amount of energy consumed by modern society is staggering, with more and more power-hungry devices becoming part of our daily lives and all these devices need to be charged and powered through the bulk of electricity generated globally is still fossil-fuel based, with only a small percentage generated through renewable sources such as solar, water and wind. In actual terms, completely avoiding the consumption of any fossil-fuel generated energy for 24 hours is almost unthinkable. Practically, many people will never contribute, but even if the day just acts as a reminder that we can all do our bit to limit our energy consumption in daily life, it would already be a victory for Mother Earth.

Try it and imagine how good it’ll make you feel about yourself! Remember our world is counting on us! Let us plan and celebrate the day joyfully by avoiding and minimizing the use of energy, electricity and gas, having no cook meal to eat and spreading the awareness to our dear ones. Unplug everything that is not essential, and instead of watching TV, playing on the computer, or doing other activities that involve electronics, socialize with family and friends and spend the day with nature.

Every individual's effort on Zero Emissions Day is what counts! 

Energy Sector in Arab Countries

The Arab energy sector has played and will continue to play an important role in the regional as well as global economy. In addition to satisfying energy needs for economic and social development, it is the source of oil and gas export revenues contributing to economic development. The Arab oil and gas sector represents the largest economic sector in the region. Increase of oil revenues were the main drivers for economic development in most of the Arab oil producing countries.

Due to the remarkable recent increases of the oil prices and the escalated levels of oil production in some Arab countries, the Arab oil revenues have witnessed a parallel unprecedented growth. The Arab economies, as well, are heavily dependent on oil and gas to meet their domestic energy demand. Oil contributes about 53.6 % of the total demand and the share of gas represents about 43.9 %, while other resources such as hydro power, coal, and renewable resources represent only about 2 %

The energy sector in the Arab word has been struggling in recent years to find ways to tackle existing and anticipated shortfalls in resources and investments. In many cases, the efficiency of energy production and consumption patterns in the region requires improvement. Though the per capita energy consumption in the GCC sub-region are among the world’s top list, more than 40 percent of the Arab population in rural and urban poor areas do not have adequate access to energy services. It is also noted that almost one-fifth of the Arab population relies on non-commercial fuels for different energy uses.

Energy Consumption in Arab Countries in 2003

  • The average primary energy consumption reached 1196 kgoe per capita, compared to the world average of 1523 kgoe. Wide disparities exist in the levels of energy consumption within and between Arab countries.
  • The average electricity consumption reached 1445 kwh per capita regionally, compared to the world average of 2271 kwh per capita, and
  • The average primary energy intensity in the region is 0.51 kgoe per US$ compared to a world average of 0.27 kgoe, reflecting the low economic returns on energy consumption in the region

Electricity Consumption in Arab Countries in 2005

  • Installed capacity in 2005 was 124 GW compared with 13 GW in 1975.
  • Electricity consumption in 2005 was 480,000 GWh (480 TWh) compared  with 22,000 GWh (22 TWh) in 1975.
  • Half of the installed capacity exists in Arab Gulf countries.
  • Population in 2005 was 313 million compared to 140 million in 1975.
  • Annual per capita consumption increased from 160 KWh in 1975 to 1530  kWh in 2005.

Relying heavily on fossil fuels, it is evident that the current trends in the Arab energy sector are unsustainable. The move towards achieving the objectives of energy for sustainable development requires policies and measures to address such problems, while maintaining the effective contribution of the sector to the region’s prosperity.

Since 1992, Arab countries have been moving towards the sustainability of the energy sector to achieve the goals and targets relevant to the key energy issues. Several Arab declarations have been issued in recent years emphasizing concerns and commitment of regional powers to achieve sustainable developmentSome progress has bee achieved; however, more steps are required to achieve the desired objectives.

Renewable Energy in Palestine

High population growth, increasing living standards and rapid industrial growth has led to tremendous energy demand in the Palestinian Territories in recent years. The energy situation in Palestine is highly different compared to other countries in the Middle East due to non-availability of natural resource, financial crunch and unstable political condition.

Palestine is heavily dependent on Israel for meeting its energy requirements. Almost all petroleum products are imported through Israeli companies.  Israel controls energy imports into Palestine and thus prevents open trade in electricity and petroleum products between Palestine and other countries.

Current Scenario

Energy is increasingly becoming unaffordable for people living in Palestinian areas due to rampant poverty and widespread unemployment. Ironically, fuel and energy costs for Palestinians are one of the highest in the region. The Palestinian power sector is entirely dependent on imported power supply, 88% from the Israel and 3% from Jordan and Egypt. 

Egypt supplies merely 17MW of electrical power to the Gaza Strip while 20MW is supplied to Jericho by Jordan’s state-utility firm. Exploitation of renewable energy resources is required at a mass-level so as to ensure a cheap and sustainable source of energy to the Palestinians. The major renewable energy resources in Palestine are solar, geothermal and biomass. The Palestinian Energy Authority is currently in the process of launching the bid for solar and wind energy resource mapping and geospatial analysis. At the end of 2012, renewable energy contributed merely 1.4% in the energy mix, though Palestine is targetting 10% clean energy installed capacity by the year 2020.

There is high potential for solar energy in the Palestine, with a daily average solar radiation of 5.4 kWh/m2 which should encourage its use for mass applications like cooking, industrial and domestic heating, water pumping, rural electrification, desalination etc. Although geothermal energy potential in Palestine has not been quantified yet, there has great deal of interest in geothermal energy due to the path-breaking efforts of Ramallah-based MENA Geothermal. Being an agricultural society, Palestine has appreciable amount of animal manure, crop wastes and solid wastes which can be utilized for generation of biomass energy. 

Solar Energy

Solar energy can be a major contributor to the future Palestinian energy supply, with its high potential in the area. Palestine receives about 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and has an average solar radiation of 5.4 kWh/m. Domestic solar water heating (SWH) is widely used in Palestine where almost 70% of houses and apartments have such systems. Infact, Palestine is one of the leading countries in the field of SWH for domestic purpose. SWH is made locally in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with a production rate of about 24,000 units per year which is considered to be sufficient for the Palestinian market. Solar thermal and photovoltaic systems are yet to take off in Palestinian areas due to high costs associated with such systems.

Geothermal Energy

The heating and cooling requirements of Palestinians can be met by judicious exploitation of geothermal energy, as shown as Ramallah-based MENA Geothermal.  The company, founded by Palestinian entrepreneur Khaled Al Sabawi has put Palestine of global geothermal map by devising a simple but ingenious geothermal heating and cooling system. The company, founded in 2008, has made swift progress and has been instrumental in developing a wide range of commercial and residential projects in Palestine and Jordan. In summer, the temperature below the earth’s surface is lower than atmospheric temperatures, and in winter it is higher. MENA Geothermal capitalizes on this by burying pipes below ground. Water pumped through these pipes then capture the temperature to feed the building’s heating and cooling system.

A geothermal system utilizes the energy from the sun, which is stored in the earth, to heat and cool homes and buildings. Typically, electric power is used only to operate the unit’s fan, compressor and pump. The geothermal system essentially uses the stable temperature of the ground at a specific depth for heating in winter and cooling in summer, providing clean energy and reducing energy costs.

Biomass Energy

Biomass energy is predominantly used for heating purposes and constitutes approximately 15% of Palestinian energy supply. Being an agrarian economy, Palestine has a strong potential for biomass energy. There is good potential for biogas generation from animal manure, poultry litter and crop wastes. In addition, organic fraction of municipal solid wastes is also represents a good biomass resource in Palestine. The Gaza Strip alone produces more than 1300 tons of solid wastes.


Palestine can reduce reliance on imported energy carriers by deployment of clean energy systems, especially solar, geothermal and biomass. Palestinian areas has large alternative energy potential which can be harnessed by a futuristic energy policy, large-scale investments and strategic assistance from neighbouring countries like Jordan and Egypt.  Renewable energy can lay a strong foundation for an independent Palestinian state, generate employment opportunities, alleviate poverty and provide a visionary approach to the dreams of Palestinian youths. 

Sustainable Development and the Arab World

Sustainable development is a pattern of growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come. Arab world is facing major sustainability challenges in achieving social, economic and environmental goals. Extremely arid climate, acute water scarcity, high energy consumption and polluting oil and gas industry present a unique challenge in Arab countries.

There are four major dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic, environmental and institutional.


Availability of energy has a direct impact on poverty, employment opportunities, education, demographic transition, indoor pollution and health, and has gender- and age-related implications. In rich Arab countries countries, energy for lighting, heating and cooking is available in the most convenient manner. On the other hand, more than 40 percent of the Arab population does not have adequate access to energy services. In poor countries, up to six hours a day is required to collect wood and dung for cooking and heating, and this task is usually done by women, who could be otherwise engaged in more productive activities.


Modern economies depend on a reliable and adequate energy supply, and developing countries need to secure this as a prerequisite for industrialization. Almost one-fifth of the Arab population relies on non-commercial fuels for different energy uses. All sectors of the economy — residential, commercial, transport, service and agriculture — demands modern energy services. These services in turn foster economic and social development at the local level by raising productivity and enabling local income generation. Energy supply affects jobs, productivity and development. Electricity is the dominant form of energy for communications, information technology, manufacturing and services.


The production, distribution and use of energy create pressures on the environment in the household, workplace and city, and at the national, regional and global levels. The environmental impacts can depend greatly on how energy is produced and used, the fuel mix, the structure of the energy systems and related energy regulatory actions and pricing structures. Air quality is a major aspect of the quality of life leading to sustainable development in many areas of the world. Gaseous emissions from the exploration and burning of fossil fuels pollute the atmosphere. Compared to other countries, Arab countries experience higher emissions of oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds. Air pollution control strategies are now being taken seriously, on both regional and national levels, and governments have taken important steps for air pollution control.


Infrastructure is the backbone of any national energy system. Countries need to monitor the state of their major energy infrastructures to ensure a sustainable energy future. Many countries now depend on major energy infrastructures that are obsolete, inefficient, insufficient or environmentally unacceptable. The Arab energy market is growing at an accelerating rate due to higher consumption rates in the private, commercial and industrial sectors. This results in the need for a successful implementation strategy that can bridge the gap between the current supply and increasing demand. A smart grid network makes for the ideal bridge where the goals of modernization can meet those of a reliable public infrastructure.

Earth Hour – Making of a Movement

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The event is held worldwide and held towards the end of March annually, encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol for their commitment to the planet

Making of a Movement

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia and was conceived by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). On the occasion, 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Since then it has grown to engage more than thousands of cities and towns worldwide

In 2008, the Earth Hour became a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people participating across 35 countries. In March 2009, over 4,000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off their lights to pledge their support for the planet, making ‘Earth Hour 2009’ the world’s largest global climate change initiative.

‘Earth Hour 2010’ was practised in a record 128 countries and territories and more than 6,000 cities joined the global display of climate action with over 1 billion people participating. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off their lights.

In 2011, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for ‘Earth Hour’ alone, sending a powerful message for action on climate change. It also ushered in a new era with members going ‘Beyond the Hour’ to commit to lasting action for the planet.

This year, the taglne for the global campaign is 'Change Climate Change' returning to the movement's original focus to initiate citizen action on global warming. More than 170 countries have confirmed their participation with more than 100 landmarks and 40 UNESCO world heritage sites to be switched off.

Aims and Objectives

Earth Hour is aimed at asking individual, households and businesses to turn off their nonessential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on energy conservation and climate change.

The gigantic and overwhelming participation in Earth Hour showed collective display of our commitment to protect our planet. During Earth Hour, people across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of one thing we all have in common – our planet.

Time for Action

The recent Earth Hour celebrated has gone beyond the hour, so after the lights went back ‘on’ participants were thinking about what else one could do to make a difference. We all now believe that ‘Together our actions add up’.

The awareness created has found enough reasons to join this annual campaign and making energy conservation as a ‘habit’ rather than practising it as an ‘annual event.’ We need to understand that we have a major responsibility of conserving our planet’s resources, since they are fragile, finite and each of us can make a difference if we choose to do so.

As far as Middle East is concerned, energy consumption is rising exponentially due to rapid industrialization and high population growth rate. Infact, the level of primary energy consumption in the Middle East is one of the highest worldwide.  However, the efficiency of energy production and consumption patterns in the region requires significant improvement. 

So, let us make a change at individual level which, though it sounds small but cumulatively will add to significant levels in energy conservation by:

  • Turning our computer off when we finish our work and turning the monitor off during our breaks.
  • Turning off any unnecessary and additional lighting at our place of work and at home.
  • Using energy-efficient lights (LED, CFL, etc.).
  • Unplugging the electrical and electronic appliances when not in use.
  • Judiciously using heating and cooling system.

The message is ‘Let us go beyond an hour and do more what we can to reduce the energy consumption and its impact on the environment.’ Plan and participate in the event for a better tomorrow.