CDM Projects in MENA Region

 

The MENA region is an attractive CDM destination as it is rich in renewable energy resources and has a robust oil and gas industry. Surprisingly, countries in MENA host very few and declining number of CDM projects with only 23 CDM projects registered till date. The region accounts for only 1.5 percent of global CDM projects and only two percent of emission reduction credits. The two main challenges facing many of these projects are: weak capacity in most MENA countries for identifying, developing and implementing carbon finance projects and securing underlying finance. 

The registered CDM projects in MENA countries are primarily located in UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Syria and Tunisia. Other countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, are also exploring opportunities for implementing projects that could be registered under the Kyoto Protocol.

Potential CDM projects that can be implemented in the region may come from varied areas like sustainable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, landfill gas capture, industrial processes, biogas technology and carbon flaring. For example, the energy efficiency projects in the oil and gas industry, can save millions of dollars and reduce tons of CO2 emissions. In addition, renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, holds great potential for the region, similar to biomass in Asia.

Let us take a look at some of the recent registered CDM projects from the MENA region.

Al-Shaheen Project (Qatar)

The Al-Shaheen project is the first of its kind in the region and third CDM project in the petroleum industry worldwide. The Al-Shaheen oilfield has flared the associated gas since the oilfield began operations in 1994. Prior to the project activity, the facilities used 125 tons per day (tpd) of associated gas for power and heat generation, and the remaining 4,100 tpd was flared. Under the current project, total gas production after the completion of the project activity is 5,000 tpd with 2,800-3,400 tpd to be exported to Qatar Petroleum (QP); 680 tpd for on-site consumption, and only 900 tpd still to be flared. The project activity will reduce GHG emissions by approximately 2.5 million tCO2 per year and approximately 17 million tCO2 during the initial seven-year crediting period.

GASCO Project (Abu Dhabi)

Located at the Asab and Bab gas processing plants in Abu Dhabi, the energy efficiency project is the fifth CDM project in the UAE to be registered under the Kyoto Protocol. The ADNOC's GASCO CDM project helps to reduce CO2 emissions through installation of a device in the flare line to considerably reduce the consumption of fuel gas, thereby ensuring lower greenhouse gas emissions. The project contributes to Abu Dhabi's and ADNOC's goals for sustainable development while improving air quality in the region. This retrofit project is expected to generate approximately 7,770 CERs per year.

Kafr El Dawar Project (Egypt)

Located at the Egypt for Spinning, Weaving and Dying Company in Kafr El Dawar near Alexandria, the fuel switching project is the latest CDM project from MENA to be registered under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kafr El Dawar CDM project helps reduce COemissions through switching from the higher carbon intensive fuel such as Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to natural gas, a lower carbon intensive fossil fuel, contributing to Egypt’s goals in sustainable development. It has also significantly mitigated atmospheric emissions of pollutants while improving air quality in the region. The replacement of HFO with natural gas is expected to generate approximately 45,000 Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) per year.

 

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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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Agricultural Biomass in MENA

 

Agriculture plays an important role in the economies of most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.  Despite the fact that MENA is the most water-scarce and dry region in the world, many countries in the region, especially those around the Mediterranean Sea, are highly dependent on agriculture.  The contribution of the agricultural sector to the overall economy varies significantly among countries in the region, ranging, for example, from about 3.2 percent in Saudi Arabia to 13.4 percent in Egypt.  Large scale irrigation coupled with mechanization has enabled entensive production of high-value cash crops, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, and sugar in the Middle East.

The term ‘crop residues’ covers the whole range of biomass produced as by-products from growing and processing crops. Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. Wheat and barley are the major staple crops grown in the Middle East region. In addition, significant quantities of rice, maize, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and fruits are produced throughout the region, mainly in Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Jordan. 

Egypt is the one of world's biggest producer of rice and cotton and produced about 5.67 million tons of rice and 635,000 tons of cotton in 2011. Infact, crop residues are considered to be the most important and traditional source of domestic fuel in rural Egypt. The total amount of crop wastes in Egypt is estimated at about 16 million tons of dry matter per year. Cotton residues represent about 9% of the total amount of residues. These are materials comprising mainly cotton stalks, which present a disposal problem. The area of cotton crop cultivation accounts for about 5% of the cultivated area in Egypt.

Agricultural output is central to the Tunisian economy. Major crops are cereals and olive oil, with almost half of all the cultivated land sown with cereals and another third planted. Tunisia is one of the world's biggest producers and exporters of olive oil, and it exports dates and citrus fruits that are grown mostly in the northern parts of the country.

To sum up, large quantities of crop residues are produced annually in the region, and are vastly underutilised. Current farming practice is usually to plough these residues back into the soil, or they are burnt, left to decompose, or grazed by cattle. These residues could be processed into liquid fuels or thermochemically processed to produce electricity and heat in rural areas. Energy crops, such as Jatropha, can be successfully grown in arid regions for biodiesel production. Infact, Jatropha is already grown at limited scale in some Middle East countries and tremendous potential exists for its commercial exploitation.

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Wastes as Energy Resource

The tremendous increase in the quantum and diversity of waste materials generated by human activities has focused the spotlight on waste management options. Waste generation rates are affected by standards of living, degree of industrialization and population density. Generally, the greater the economic prosperity and the higher percentage of urban population, the greater the amount of waste produced. A good example are the oil-rich GCC nations who are counted among the world's most prolific per capita waste generators.

Reduction in the volume and mass of wastes is a crucial issue due to limited availability of final disposal sites in the Middle East. There is, no doubt, an obvious need to reduce, reuse and recycle wastes but recovery of energy from wastes is also gaining ground as a vital method for managing wastes and Middle East should not be an exception.

Wastes can be transformed into clean and efficient energy and fuel by a variety of technologies, ranging from conventional combustion process to state-of-the-art plasma gasification technology. Besides recovery of energy, such technologies leads to substantial reduction in the overall waste quantities requiring final disposal. Waste-to-energy projects provide major business opportunities, environmental benefits, and energy security.  Feedstock for waste-to-energy plants can be obtained from a wide array of sources including municipal wastes, crop residues and agro-industrial wastes. 

Let us explore some of major waste resources that are readily available in Middle East and North Africa region:

Municipal Solid Wastes

Atleast 150 million tons of solid wastes are collected each year in the MENA region with the vast majority disposed of in open fields and dumpsites. The major energy resource in municipal solid waste is made up of food residuals, paper, fruits, vegetables, plastics etc which make up as much as 75 – 80 percent of the total MSW collected.

Municipal wastes can be converted into energy by thermochemical or biological technologies. At the landfill sites the gas produced by the natural decomposition of MSW (called landfill gas) can be collected, scrubbed and cleaned before feeding into internal combustion engines or gas turbines to generate heat and power. The organic fraction of MSW can be biochemically stabilized in an anaerobic digester to obtain biogas (for heat and power) as well as fertilizer. Sewage sludge is a big nuisance for municipalities and general public but it is a very good source of biogas, which can efficiency produced at sewage treatment plants.

Agricultural Residues

Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. Large quantities of crop residues are produced annually in the MENA region, and are vastly underutilised. Wheat and barley are the major staple crops grown in the Middle East region. In addition, significant quantities of rice, maize, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and fruits are produced throughout the region, mainly in Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Jordan. 

Current farming practice is usually to plough these residues back into the soil, or they are burnt, left to decompose, or grazed by cattle. Agricultural residues are characterized by seasonal availability and have characteristics that differ from other solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, char briquette. Crop wastes can be used to produce biofuels, biogas as well as heat and power through a wide range of well-proven technologies.

Animal Wastes

The MENA countries have strong animal population. The livestock sector, in particular sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in the national economy of respective countries. Many millions of live ruminants are imported each year from around the world. In addition, the region has witnessed very rapid growth in the poultry sector.

The biogas potential of animal manure can be harnessed both at small- and community-scale. In the past, this waste was recovered and sold as a fertilizer or simply spread onto agricultural land, but the introduction of tighter environmental controls on odour and water pollution means that some form of waste management is now required, which provides further incentives for waste-to-energy conversion. The most attractive method of converting these waste materials to useful form is anaerobic digestion.

Wood Wastes

Wood processing industries primarily include sawmilling, plywood, wood panel, furniture, building component, flooring, particle board, moulding, jointing and craft industries. Wood wastes generally are concentrated at the processing factories, e.g. plywood mills and sawmills. In general, processing of 1,000 kg of wood in the furniture industries will lead to waste generation of almost half (45 %), i.e. 450 kg of wood.

Similarly, when processing 1,000 kg of wood in sawmill, the waste will amount to more than half (52 %), i.e. 520 kg wood. Wood wastes has high calorific value and can be efficiency converted into energy by thermal technologies like combustion and gasification.

Industrial Wastes

The food processing industry in MENA produces a large number of organic residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. These waste materials are generated from all sectors of the food industry with everything from meat production to confectionery producing waste that can be utilised as an energy source. In recent decades, the fast-growing food and beverage processing industry has remarkably increased in importance in major countries of the region.

Since the early 1990s, the increased agricultural output stimulated an increase in fruit and vegetable canning as well as juice, beverage, and oil processing in countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Wastewater from food processing industries contains sugars, starches and other dissolved and solid organic matter. A huge potential exists for these industrial wastes to be biochemically digested to produce biogas, or fermented to produce ethanol, and several commercial examples of waste-to-energy conversion already exist around the world.

Conclusions

An environmentally sound and techno-economically viable methodology to treat wastes is highly crucial for the sustainability of modern societies. The MENA region is well-poised for waste-to-energy development, with its rich resources in the form of municipal solid waste, crop residues and agro-industrial waste. The implementation of advanced waste-to-energy conversion technologies as a method for safe disposal of solid and liquid wastes, and as an attractive option to generate heat, power and fuels, can greatly reduce environmental impacts of wastes in the Middle East. 

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Biomass Energy in Middle East

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region offers almost 45 percent of the world’s total energy potential from all renewable sources that can generate more than three times the world’s total power demand. MENA region has abundant biomass energy resources which have remained unexplored to a great extent. According to conservative estimates, the potential of biomass energy in the Euro-Mediterranean region is about 400TWh per year. Around the region, pollution of the air and water from municipal, industrial and agricultural operations continues to grow.  The technological advancements in the biomass energy industry, coupled with the tremendous regional potential, promises to usher in a new era of energy as well as environmental security for the region.

The major biomass producing countries are Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Traditionally, biomass energy has been widely used in rural areas for domestic purposes in the MENA region, especially in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Since most of the region is arid or semi-arid, the biomass energy potential is mainly contributed by municipal solid wastes, agricultural residues and industrial wastes.

Municipal solid wastes represent the best source of biomass in Middle East countries. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait rank in the top-ten worldwide in terms of per capita solid waste generation. The gross urban waste generation quantity from Middle East countries is estimated at more than 150 million tons annually. Food waste is the third-largest component of generated waste by weight which mostly ends up rotting in landfill and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The mushrooming of hotels, restaurants, fast-food joints and cafeterias in the region has resulted in the generation of huge quantities of food wastes.

In Middle East countries, huge quantity of sewage sludge is produced on daily basis which presents a serious problem due to its high treatment costs and risk to environment and human health. On an average, the rate of wastewater generation is 80-200 litres per person each day and sewage output is rising by as much as 25 percent every year. According to conservative estimates, sewage generation in the Dubai is atleast 500,000 m3 per day.

The food processing industry in MENA produces a large number of organic residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. In recent decades, the fast-growing food and beverage processing industry has remarkably increased in importance in major countries of the region. Since the early 1990s, the increased agricultural output stimulated an increase in fruit and vegetable canning as well as juice, beverage, and oil processing in countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

The MENA countries have strong animal population. The livestock sector, in particular sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in the national economy of respective countries. Many millions of live ruminants are imported each year from around the world. In addition, the region has witnessed very rapid growth in the poultry sector. The biogas potential of animal manure can be harnessed both at small- and community-scale.

The Middle East region is well-poised for biomass energy development, with its rich biomass resources in the form of municipal solid waste, crop residues and agro-industrial waste. The implementation of advanced biomass conversion technologies as a method for safe disposal of solid and liquid biomass wastes, and as an attractive option to generate heat, power and fuels, can greatly reduce environmental impacts of a wide array of biomass wastes. 

 

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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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Renewable Energy in Algeria

Algeria plays a key role in world energy markets as a leading producer and exporter of natural gas and liquefied natural gas. Algeria’s energy mix in 2010 was almost exclusively based on fossil fuels, especially natural gas (93%). However the country has enormous renewable energy potential, mainly solar, which the government is trying to harness by launching an ambitious Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program.

The Program consists of generating 22,000 MW of power from renewable sources between 2011 and 2030, of which 12,000 MW will be meant for domestic consumption and the rest for export. The Program is focused on developing and expanding the use of renewable resources, such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydropower, in order to diversify energy sources and promote sustainable development of the country.

Around 60 solar photovoltaic plants, concentrating solar power plants, wind farms as well as hybrid power plants are to be constructed within the next ten years. Algeria has also joined the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which aims to use Sahara solar and wind power to supply 15 per cent of Europe's electricity needs by 2050. 

Solar Energy

On account of its geographical location, Algeria holds one of the highest solar potentials in the world which is estimated at 13.9 TWh per year. The country receives annual sunshine exposure equivalent to 2,500 KWh/m2. Daily solar energy potential varies from 4.66 kWh/m2 in the north to 7.26 kWh/m2 in the south.

Pilot projects for the construction of two solar power plants with storage of a total capacity of about 150 MW each, will be launched during the 2011-2013 period. These will be in addition to the hybrid power plant project of Hassi R’Mel with a total power capacity of 150 MW, including 25 MW in solar. Four solar thermal power plants with a total capacity of about 1,200 MW are to be constructed over the period of 2016 to 2020.

The Hassi R'Mel integrated solar combined cycle power station is one of world’s first hybrid power stations. The plant combines a 25 MW parabolic trough concentrating solar power array, covering an area of over 180,000 m2, in conjunction with a 130 MW combined cycle gas turbine plant, so cutting carbon emissions compared to a traditional power station. The gas turbine and steam cycle are fired by natural gas, with the steam turbine receiving additional solar-generated steam during the day. The plant began electricity production in June 2011.

Wind Energy

Algeria has promising wind energy potential of about 35 TWh/year. Almost half of the country experience significant wind speed. The country’s first wind farm is being built at Adrar with installed capacity of 10MW with substantial funding from state-utlity Sonelgaz. Two more wind farms, each of 20 MW, are to be developed during 2014- 2013. Studies will be led to detect suitable sites to realize the other projects  during the period 2016-2030 for a power of  about 1700 MW.

Biomass Energy

Algeria has good biomass energy potential in the form of solid wastes, crop wastes and forestry residues. Solid waste is the best source of biomass potential in the country. According to the National Cadastre for Generation of Solid Waste in Algeria, annual generation of municipal wastes is more than 10 million tons. Solid wastes are usually disposed in open dumps or burnt wantonly.

Conclusions

Despite being a hydrocarbon-rich nation, Algeria is making concerted efforts to harness its renewable energy potential. Algeria’s renewable energy program is one of the most progressive in the MENA region and the government is making all-out efforts to secure investments and reliable technology partners for ongoing and upcoming projects. It is expected that the country will emerge as a major player in international renewable energy arena in the coming years.

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Deleterious Impact of Tire-Burning Kilns

Decorative arts such as woodworking, weaving as well as ceramics and other pottery have a long and honored tradition.  In fact, some of the earliest examples of pottery originate from the Middle East from the time of 6500 BC. In order to meet the ceramic industry’s high energy demand, much of the developing world, MENA in particular, is resorting to cheaper alternatives such as fueling kilns by burning tires and other harmful materials. Though modern technology has led to clean and efficient kiln usage in the developed world, these options come with a high price tag when referring to industrial demands for ceramics and other fired products.

Burning of tires and other rubber materials as a primary source of energy for kilns is particularly concerning.  In other areas of the world, like India, where the concerns lie in the harmful effects of coal-fired kilns, areas like Morocco and other North African countries are dealing with harmful impacts of tire burning. While burning tires does provide an efficient source of energy, the harmful effects of such burning far exceed the benefits. 

Scrap tires are used as a supplement to traditional fuels such as coal or wood fuel because of their high heating value. Typically, for each pound of scrap tire rubber burned it equates to 15,000 BTUs of energy and a single tire can burn for up to 50 minutes.  This equates to 25 percent more energy being produced than coal. Regardless of the efficiency, the fumes that are being released from tire burning have been shown to be extremely toxic to human health and harmful to the environment. 

Dangers to Public Health

Open tire fire emissions include "criteria"pollutants, such as particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also include "non-criteria" hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and metals such as cadmium, nickel, zinc, mercury, chromium, and vanadium.

Both criteria and non-criteria pollutants can cause significant short and long term health effects.  Depending on the length and degree of exposure, these health effects could include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, central nervous system depression, and cancer.  The EPA suggests that any unprotected exposure to these emissions be avoided.  Furthermore, uncontrolled tire burning has been proven to be 16 times more mutagenic, meaning capable of inducing genetic mutation, than traditional residential wood combustion in a fireplace, and 13,000 times more mutagenic than coal-fired utility emissions with good combustion efficiency and add-on controls.

Especially troubling is the exposure that children living within these communities are inadvertently being subjected to. Children, foetuses, nursing babies, elderly, asthmatics, and immune suppressed individuals are all much more vulnerable to the pollutants released burning tires. Even a nursing woman can transfer the pollutions she inhales to a baby through the fat in her breast milk.  During breast-feeding, infants are exposed to higher concentrations of organic pollutants than at any subsequent time in their lives. Burning tires only adds to that toxic burden. Saving money on fuel by burning tires should not take precedence over public health. Unfortunately, in small villages and other underdeveloped areas where tire burning kilns sustain much of the local economy, exposure to these toxins is inevitable with the current practices being employed.  

Huge Environmental Costs

In addition to the negative effects tire burning has on the health of humans, it also has environmental costs that have not yet been discussed. The three main effects tire burning has on the environment is air, water, and soil pollution.   The airborne pollution caused from the tire burning kilns is significant.  The black fumes contain heavy metals and other harmful pollutants that linger in the air and can lead to acute to chronic health hazards. 

In terms of water and soil pollution, according to the EPA, “for every million tires consumed by fire, about 55,000 gallons of runoff oil can pollute the environment unless contained and collected”.  If uncontained, this runoff can then be carried away by rainwater to local water sources contaminating them.  Additionally, the remaining residue can cause two types of pollution; these are immediate pollution by liquid decomposition products penetrating soil, and gradual pollution from leaching of ash and unburned residues following rainfall or other water entry.

While the burning of tires is not considered recycling, there is an argument regarding whether it is worse to landfill tires or reuse them to recover energy.  While even in the United States the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes that the use of tire-derived fuels is a viable alternative to the use of fossil fuels, there are other factors that need to be considered.  For instance, in more developed areas of the world, regulations are in place such as the Clean Air Act which minimizes the amount of emissions being released by businesses as well as the fact that technology exists that can help clean and filter the emissions before they are released into the air. On the other hand, in less developed areas of the world, environmental regulations and technology of this magnitude may not exist thus,exposing those citizens to more of the environmental and health related effects of uncontrolled tire burning.  While many factors contribute to either argument, all in all this particularly issue is under examined and results in the impairment of health and the safety of entire communities in the developing world. 

References

Air Emissions from Scrap Tire Combustion. (1997) (pp. 1-117). Washington, DC.: United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Frequent Questions. (2013). 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/tires/faq.htm#ques14

Gratkowski, M. T. (2012). Burning Characteristics of Automotive Tires. Fire Technology, 50(2), 379-391. http://link.springer.com.www.libproxy.wvu.edu/article/10.1007/s10694-012-0274-9/fulltext.html#Sec11

Mayer, J. (2005). Tire burn could cause children severe harm. 2014, from http://www.lesspollution.org/my_turn.html

Potential Environmental Impact of Uncontrolled Tyre Fires. (from 2008, ongoing.). 2014, from http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/waste/end-of-life-tyre-management-jul04/html/page6.html

Tire Fires. (2013). 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/tires/fires.htm

Tire-Derived Fuel. (2012). 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/tires/tdf.htm

 

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Alternative Energy Prospects in Morocco

Morocco, being the largest energy importer in North Africa, is making concerted efforts to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. The country currently imports 95% of its energy needs which creates strong dependence on foreign energy imports. Renewable energy is an attractive proposition as Morocco has almost complete dependence on imported energy carriers. Morocco is already spending over US$3 billion a year on fuel and electricity imports and is experiencing power demand growth of 6.5 per cent a year. Morocco is investing heavily in the power sector by building new power plants such as expansion of coal power plant in JorfLasfer and establishment new coal power plant near Safi.

According to the Moroccan Ministry of Energy and Mining, the total installed capacity of renewable energy (excluding hydropower) was approximately 300MW in 2011. The Moroccan Government has already achieved its target of supplying around 8% of total primary energy from renewables by 2012 which includes energy generation, conversion and distribution. Morocco is planning USD13 billion expansion of wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation capacity which would catapult the share of renewables in the energy mix to 42% by the year 2020, with solar, wind and hydro each contributing 14%. 

Wind Energy

The technical potential of wind energy in Morocco is estimated to be 25 GW. This is the equivalent to 5 times the current installed power capacity in Morocco, and reflects the huge potential in this clean energy source. Morocco has already installed almost 300 MW wind turbines and other projects are being implemented. At the same time, Morocco launched a wind energy plan consisting in the installation of 2000 MW by 2020. Many experts state that Morocco will install total capacities beyond this plan. In fact, wind energy is already cost competitive with respect to conventional energy resources, and due to the technological progress, the cost is even being reduced significantly. Most of the already implemented projects and those being implemented or planned, are developed by public organisations or within the framework of agreements with public organisations.

Solar Energy

The German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) estimated the potential of solar energy in Morocco to be equivalent to 1500 times the national consumption of electricity. Morocco has invested in solar home systems (SHS) to electrify households in the rural areas. Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious solar energy plan with investment of USD 9billion. The Ain Beni Mather Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa.  The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW by the end of 2012. y building mega-scale solar power projects at five location — Laayoune (Sahara), Boujdour (Western Sahara), Tarfaya (south of Agadir), Ain Beni Mathar (center) and Ouarzazate — with modern solar thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power mechanisms.

Hydropower

Morocco is planning to add a total of 2 GW new hydropower capacities, consisting mainly in small and medium stations. This plan should be achieved by 2020, and combined with 2 GW solar energy and 2 GW wind energy capacities would, add a total 6GW renewable energy capacities, which will supply 42% of the Moroccan electricity in 2020. 

Biomass Energy

Unfortunately there is no national strategy to exploit biomass energy in Morocco. However, there are many potential projects which could promote biomass energy sector in the country, such as waste-to-energy, biofuels and biogas from abundant feedstock like solid wastes, crop wastes, industrial wastes etc. The agronomic research has demonstrated the adaptability of new energetic plants to the arid zones. These plants such as Jatropha urcas, could be cultivated in the arid zone in Morocco, and be exploited for biofuels production and as a green barrier against desertification. Like solar and wind, the biomass energy sector also requires support and investment from the government and private sector.

Conclusions

Morocco is endowed with tremendous alternative energy resources which can be exploited to meet national energy requirements as well as export of surplus power to neighbouring countries. Due to its geographical position, Morocco could be a hub for renewable energy exchange between the European Union and North Africa. Renewable energy sector can create good employment opportunities and can also strengthen country’s economy. However, the government should liberalize renewable energy market, encourage public-private partnership and create mass environmental awareness to increase the share of renewable in the national energy mix.

Environmental Initiatives in Middle East – Challenges and Remedies

Environmental protection has become an increasingly important item on the social and economic policy agenda of Middle East nations. As I read last week’s piece titled “Environmental Impacts of Plastic Bags” I was struck by the succinct summary of the main problems with the ongoing use of plastic bags and how their effects can be felt in many ways, some widely publicized and others not. The article prompted a series of reflections upon other environmental initiatives emerging in the Middle East and North Africa, especially in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

In this article, I wish to share my thoughts on the current issues inhibiting local efforts’ success and possible means of overcoming them. Particular emphasis will be placed on widening regional environmental conservation narratives to include culturally-specific content, as well as empowering grassroots level projects.

Environmentalism: A Disjointed Narrative

Having studied in Cairo and visited Doha and Dubai several times, I can attest to the environmental degradation occurring in the Middle East. The case of plastic bags is one of many examples of poor environmental management and reveals multiple issues hindering success. Let us first examine the wide array of national level environmental mandates and legislation already present across the region.

Specifically, the rulers of Qatar and the UAE seem to be taking the lead by shifting their views and trying to address potential environmental limitations imposed by access to potable water and finite oil/natural gas reserves. I applaud these leaders for their work; my concern is that these initiatives come off as irrelevant to the realities of ordinary Qataris and Emiratis. Expatriates make up an overwhelming majority of the population in GCC nations, and should be given due importance in socio-economic development and environmental initiatives, alongside the native population..

In the case of Doha, which appears to have some recycling programs in place at Education City and Katara Cultural Village, their existence might be due to top-down mandates and perhaps some Western expatriates complaining that there is no place to throw out their recyclables. Without wider buy-in from indigenous populations and recognition of real benefits to recycling, conservation etc, the effects of such efforts will be minimal. Another worry is the low-level of enforcement measures in place to monitor the implementation and improvement of environmental preservation. Coupled together, such problems essentially take the sheen off such initiatives and can be seen as purely image-driven.

Religious Obligations and Ground Realities

Additionally, there appears to be a disconnect between the messaging being conveyed to residents in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and the actual results one observes in these nations. For instance, there is a very apparent Islamic tradition being displayed throughout each country, as shown by the numerous state-sponsored religious building projects and “cultural” venues that celebrate the region as the homeland of Islam. Government officials and indigenous populations pride themselves on being the custodians of the religion, yet it seems that when it comes to environmental practices, tradition and historical knowledge are ignored. The Holy Qur'an has a number of specific references to important principles for environmental protection. 

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) says in the Holy Qur'an:

“And Allah loveth not those who do mischief” (Surat Al Ma’eda, verse 64)

“And do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you, if ye have Faith” (Surat Al A’raf, verse 85)

Eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters (Surat Al-A’raf 7: 21).

“And do good as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the earth. Allah does not love the corrupters”(Surat Al Qasas 28:77)

The first principle which guides Islamic teaching on environmental sustainability is the concept of trusteeship. Being a khalifa (or guardian), a man should take all necessary steps to ensure that the entrusted property is passed on to the next generation in as pure a form as possible. This obligation, however, has gone by the wayside and undermines national images. Infact, the region’s Bedouin heritage and Arab sustainable practices also appear to be disregarded and treated as inferior to Western development theory.

All Is Not Lost

Despite these difficulties, along with the recognition that many MENA nations presently lack the capacity and infrastructure to rectify all environmental issues and face a sense of apathy towards environmentalism, I believe all is not lost. If we turn back to the earlier plastic bag case study, I see some options for ensuring greater community ownership and responsibility that could be applied to other environmental topics too. One thing that could help encourage a paradigm shift is a national media campaign illuminating the impact of plastic bag usage and advertising alternatives. Being a resident of Washington, DC, I have seen the city engage the public on this issue through the implementation of a plastic bag tax and highlighting reusable bags in local stores.

Additionally, it would be beneficial to draw upon the Islamic environmental traditions in marketing to the Arab world, in addition to leveraging the example of other locally-relevant respected religious and social figures. Essentially, the success of any environmental initiative stems largely from it being seen as fashionable and easy to do. In the case of plastic bag usage, lack of easy access to alternatives and the cheap cost associated with plastic bags enables the status quo. At a national level the argument could be made that importing plastic bags and having to deal with their after-effects are very costly to nations so a local alternative would be beneficial for all.

If local organizations and cultural centers (NGOs, mosques/other religious spaces, souqs) seriously began using reusable bags or handing them out as giveaways people may begin to disregard plastic bags and encourage others to do likewise. The creation of a dialogue in the public sphere and a partnership between the various segments of Khaleeji societies (native/expatriate, faith communities, governmental/non-governmental) could be a very powerful initiative and exceed government-only efforts to preserve the environment.

Solar Energy in Morocco

Morocco, being the largest energy importer in North Africa, is making concerted efforts to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. Renewable energy is an attractive proposition as Morocco has almost complete dependence on imported energy carriers. Morocco is already spending over USD 3billion a year on fuel and electricity imports and is experiencing power demand growth of 6.5 per cent a year.

The National Energy and Energy Efficiency Plan was launched in 2008 which aims to develop renewable energy to meet 15 percent of the country’s energy demand and to increase the use of energy-saving methods.  According to the Moroccan Ministry of Energy and Mining, the total installed capacity of renewable energy (excluding hydropower) was approximately 300MW in 2011.

The Moroccan Government has already achieved its target of supplying around 8% of total primary energy from renewables by 2012 which includes energy generation, conversion and distribution. Morocco is planning USD 13billion expansion of wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation capacity which would catapult the share of renewables in the energy mix to 42% by the year 2020, with solar, wind and hydro each contributing 14%.

Moroccan Solar Plan

Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious solar energy plan with investment of USD 9billion. The Moroccan Solar Plan is regarded as a milestone on the country’s path towards a secure and sustainable energy supply. The aim of the plan is to generate 2,000 megawatts (or 2 gigawatts) of solar power by the year 2020 by building mega-scale solar power projects at five location — Laayoune (Sahara), Boujdour (Western Sahara), Tarfaya (south of Agadir), Ain Beni Mathar (center) and Ouarzazate — with modern solar thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power mechanisms.

The first plant, under the Moroccan Solar Plan, will be commissioned in 2014, and the entire project is expected to be complete in 2019. Once completed, the solar project is expected to provide almost one-fifth of Morocco’s annual electricity generation. Morocco, the only African country to have a power cable link to Europe, is also a key player in Mediterranean Solar Plan and Desertec Industrial Initiative. The Desertec Concept aims to build CSP plants to supply renewable energy from MENA region to European countries by using high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines.

In 2010, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), a public-private venture, was set up specifically to implement these projects.  Its mandate is to implement the overall project and to coordinate and to supervise other activities related to this initiative. Stakeholders of the Agency include the Hassan II Fund For Economic & Social Development, Energetic Investment Company and the Office National de l’Electricité (ONE). The Solar Plan is backed by Germany, with funding being provided by German Environment Ministry (BMU) and KfW Entwicklungsbank while GIZ is engaged in skills and capacity-building for industry.

Ain Beni Mather Project

The Ain Beni Mather Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa.  The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW by the end of 2012. African Development Bank, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and Morocco's National Electric Authority (ONE), is financing approximately two-thirds of the cost of the plant, or about 200 million Euros.

Ain Beni Mather plant, which is now supplying electricity to the Moroccan grid, uses a cutting-edge design, combining a large array of 224 parabolic mirror collectors concentrating sun energy and boosting the steam output needed to produce electricity. This area enjoys abundant sunshine and has enough water to cool the power station and clean the solar mirrors. It is close to both the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline and the high voltage grid that will help to transmit the generated power.

Ouarzazate Solar Complex

The 500MW Phase-One Solar Power Complex at Ouarzazate is the world’s largest solar thermal power plant. To be built with investment of an estimated Euros 2.3 billion, the project is the first one to be implemented under the Moroccan Solar Plan. The Ouarzazate Solar Complex, with a total capacity of 500 MW, will come on-stream in 2015 and produce an estimated output of 1.2 TWh/year to meet local demand. The first phase will be a 160-MW parabolic trough facility while photovoltaic modules and CSP towers will be used in later phases.