Energy Efficiency Perspectives for MENA

MENA countries are facing an increasing challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia figure among the world’s top-10 per capita carbon emitters. In case of business-as-usual scenario, GHGs emissions from the energy sector will continue to rise throughout the region. According to a recent report by International Energy Agency (IEA), energy intensity demand in MENA is mainly driven by population and economic growth and reliance of heavy industries on generous energy subsidy. It is projected that primary energy demand in the region will be doubled by 2030 and the region’s share in global oil production will increase from 35% now to 44% in 2030. MENA countries together have 840 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves (57% of world’s oil) and 80 trillion cubic meters of proven gas reserves (41% of world’s natural gas). Population growth and economic expansion have increased energy demand significantly over the past decade; between 2000 and 2011, domestic consumption almost doubled in Oman and tripled in Qatar. 

Growth in energy demand is driven across the end-use sectors: in the residential sector through increased use of air conditioning and cooling units; in the transportation sector through rising vehicle ownership; and in the industrial sector from greater industrial activity, hydrocarbon production and refining, and energy-intensive desalination plants. One of the central reasons for increased GHG emissions from MENA energy sector is the low efficiency of energy resource consumption. The energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) is very high which drives up atmospheric GHG emissions. However it is important to highlight the difference among MENA countries regarding carbon intensity levels where GCC nations are rank higher compared to energy-importing MENA nations like Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon etc. All these facts stress the urgent need to increase energy efficiency in order to precipitate decline in energy intensity and thus reduce GHG emissions.

There is a wide array of measures on both supply side and demand side, to boost MENA energy efficiency levels by promoting stringent environmental, energy saving policies to combat climate change.  Formal energy efficiency programs and voluntary measures combined will help the region to maintain its economic strength. Energy conservation programs in residential, commercial and industrial sectors can significantly reduce carbon emissions and augment energy supply in the MENA region. A robust regulatory and institutionalized framework can help to achieve a reduction in GHG emissions through a bundle of non-market based and market-based instruments.

Also known as command and control instruments (CAC), these regulations focus on preventing environmental externalities which is achieved through auditing and monitoring/inspection program and performance-oriented regulations to limit air pollutants. Here are some examples of command and control instruments:

  • Awareness and information campaigns
  • Labeling & training programs to engage end-users to reduce their emissions voluntarily.
  • Information-based programs to spread awareness and encourage efficient consumption patterns.
  • Establishing minimum energy performance standards for appliances, equipment and vehicles as a complement to labelling methods.
  • Building codes and insulation to save the energy loss.
  • Smart reductions such as smart meters, energy audit, energy saving plans etc.
  • Phasing out of inefficient lighting like incandescent bulbs and CFLs.

Market-based instruments are defined as a policy instrument that use market, price to provide incentives for polluters to reduce or eliminate their emissions (negative environmental externality). Building regional cap, carbon trading platform and grants/rebates/tax exemption/rewards to encourage efficiency measures are good examples of market-based incentive program that may be implemented in the Middle East.


On account of its huge fossil fuel reserves, MENA has a great role to play in the international efforts towards green economy and sustainable development. Recently, the GCC has embarked on ambitious policies and projects across different sectors which may, explicitly or implicitly, mitigate impacts of GHG on their economies and development priorities. 

Adoption of energy efficiency-based energy policies in commercial, industrial and domestic sectors is integral to climate change mitigation in the MENA region. It is imperative on MENA governments to create an environment that rewards energy-efficient choices and encourages innovation for all kinds of energy users. The Middle East electricity market is growing at a rapid pace due to higher consumption rates in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors which underlines the need for a successful implementation strategy that can bridge the gap between the current supply and increasing demand.

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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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Anthropogenic Climate Change in Jordan

Climate change has become a global concern in recent decades and Jordan is no exception. According to IPPC, scientific evidences show that the earth experienced an average warming of around 0.7°C during the 20th century, and are projected to warm by up to 4°C by the end of the 21st century. Scientific studies reveal an increase in annual minimum air temperatures in Jordan since 1970s. The increase of mean temperature indicates a slight regional climate change, while decreasing temperature range proves that the earth is trapping terrestrial infrared radiation responsible for climate change. Besides, researchers predict further increase in the mean annual temperatures by 3±0.5°C in winter and 4.5±1°C in summer by the end of the 21st century. According to the National Climate Change Policy of Jordan, Jordan’s total GHG emissions are relatively small with less than 20 million tons of COeq p.a. to global emission. The main sources of GHG emissions in Jordan are as follows:

  • Energy sector – 74%
  • Waste sector –  13%
  • Solid waste – 12.5%
  • Industrial processes – 8%
  • Land  use – 4%
  • Wastewater – 1%

Climate Change Perception and Awareness

In Feb 2014, the Jordanian Ministry of Environment collaborating with the Royal Scientific Society and the UNDP published the results of the first public opinion survey about the level of knowledge on climate change and its impact on Jordan.  The survey aims to evaluate the level of perception and understanding of the Jordanians about climate change and to determine the knowledge gaps to prepare an outreach plan for enhancing public awareness.

When the level of climate change awareness and perception among Jordanians was assessed, findings show that the level of climate change awareness among Jordanians is high; survey results specify that 78% of Jordanians recognize the change in climate during the past years, while 73% realize that climate change was due to anthropogenic activities such as energy sector and transportation. Moreover, only 38% of all sample stated that they have a very good knowledge of the climate change issue. In the same survey, 75% stated that the impact of climate change nationally will be mainly manifested in the form of temperature rise, while 65% acknowledged that climate change will negatively affect the precipitation.

In addition, the results show a good knowledge among Jordanians as regards the fact that Jordan has a minor contribution to climate change phenomena. Half of the sample surveyed showed a positive attitude towards being involved in action against climate change, and 53% expressed their willing to pay more for climate-friendly products, while joining an organization that addresses climate change issues had a weak percentage of 16%.

Results further demonstrate that the sample under study gave the top priority to students in the awareness campaigns with a percentage of 72% followed by business sector with 61% and household with 43%. As for communication tools, the sample chose TV and Satellite as the most preferred communication tool, followed by social media networking (e.g Facebook and Twitter) with a percentage of 66%, while the least percentage was for seminars and workshops with a percentage of 26%.

Government has the key responsibilities in dealing with climate change according to 52% of the sample, followed by civil society organizations with 24%. As for adaptation measures, 69% of Jordanians identified saving water as a key issue in adaptation options, whereas planting of drought-tolerant crops ranked the second place with 60%, and the last priority was for biodiversity conservation with 50%. Finally, 61% of the studied sample recommended renewable energy usage and energy efficiency as the first mitigation options, while 46% went to use climatic-friendly products, and decrease the industrial pollution ranked the third place with a percentage of 57%.

Climate Change Policy and Government Decisions

While Jordan`s total GHG emissions are relatively small and despite the current political instability in the region, Jordan did not ignore the emergency of dealing with the climate change problem. This is due to the fact that Jordan realizes that climate change is a threat to both nature and humanity, and it is an obligation to deal with its negative impacts by increasing the Kingdom’s preparedness and resilience.

Jordan should act intelligently to compact the negative impact of climate change vulnerable sectors such as water and food to name two. Correspondingly the Ministry of Environment declared launching a directorate specializes in Climate Change, Jordan has also developed "the Climate Change Policy and Sector Strategic Guidance Framework", according to the policy; the long-term goal is to achieve a proactive, climate risk-resilient Jordan, to remain with a low-carbon but growing economy, with healthy, sustainable, resilient communities, sustainable resources, and thriving and productive ecosystems.

Adaptation and Mitigation Measures

In addition to actions taken at the policy level, various actions have been taken to adapt to climate change and to promote mitigation of GHGs, including strengthening the promotion of renewable energy in the country. An excellent example is the 117MW Tafila Wind Farm, the Middle East’s biggest wind farm.

In addition to local activities on mitigation and adaptation, Jordan also participates in and contributes to various environmental international activities related to climate change. Moreover, a good deal of research projects on climate change have been initiated in Jordan, which will help in identifying the local impacts of climate change and to broaden knowledge on adaptation and mitigation strategies in different sectors. Jordan believes that the potential for mitigation is large; and is still working seriously and comprehensively to deal with its consequences.



Matouq, Mohammed. et al "The Climate Change Implication on Jordan: A Case Study Using GIS and Artificial Neural Networks for Weather Forecasting." Journal of Taibah University for Science, 2013.

Hamdi, Moshrik. et al "Climate Change in Jordan: A Comprehensive Examination Approach." American Journal of Environmental Sciences 5.1 (2009): 58-68. 

Harrison, Sandy. "Future Climate Change in Jordan: An Analysis of State-of-the-Art Climate Model Simulations." (2009): Royal Society for Nature Conservation.

The National Climate Change Policy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan 2013-2020." The Ministry of Environment. 2013. <available at>.

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