Solar Energy in Oman: Potential and Progress

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

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

Solar Power Potential in Oman

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

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

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

Major Developments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future Perspectives

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

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

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

Parting Shot

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

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

References

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

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

Energy Perspectives for Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an emerging and stable economy in the Middle East. Jordan has almost no indigenous energy resources as domestic natural gas covers merely 3% of the Kingdom’s energy needs. The country is dependent on oil imports from neighbouring countries to meet its energy requirements. Energy import costs create a financial burden on the national economy and Jordan had to spend almost 20% of its GDP on the purchase of energy in 2008.

In Jordan, electricity is mainly generated by burning imported natural gas and oil. The price of electricity for Jordanians is dependent on price of oil in the world market, and this has been responsible for the continuous increase in electricity cost due to volatile oil prices in recent years. Due to fast economic growth, rapid industrial development and increasing population, energy demand is expected to increase by at least 50 percent over the next 20 years.

Therefore, the provision of reliable and cheap energy supply will play a vital role in Jordan’s economic growth. 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 2260 MW, which is expected to rise to 5770 MW by 2020.

In 2007, the Government unveiled an Energy Master Plan for the development of the energy sector requiring an investment of more than $3 billion during 2007 – 2020. Some ambitious objectives were fixed: heating half of the required hot water on solar energy by the year 2020; increasing energy efficiency and savings by 20% by the year 2020, while 7% of the energy mix should originate from renewable sources by 2015, and should rise to 10% by 2020. 

Concerted efforts are underway to remove barriers to exploitation of renewable energy, particularly wind, solar and biomass. There has been significant progress in the implementation of sustainable energy systems in the last few years to the active support from the government and increasing awareness among the local population.

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.  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. 

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.

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Water-Energy Nexus in the UAE

desalination-plant-uaeThe United Arab Emirates has been witnessing fast-paced economic growth as well as rapid increase in population during the last couple of decades. As a result, the need for water and energy has increased significantly and this trend is expected to continue into the future. Water in the UAE comes from four different sources – ground water (44%), desalinated seawater (42%), treated wastewater (14%), and surface water (1%). Most of the ground water and treated seawater are used for irrigation and landscaping while desalinated seawater is used for drinking, household, industrial, and commercial purposes.

Water consumption per capita in UAE is more than 500 liters per day which is amongst the highest worldwide. UAE is ranked 163 among 172 countries in the world in total renewable water resources (Wikipedia 2016). In short, UAE is expected to be amongst extremely water stressed countries in 2040 (World Resources Institute 2015).

To address this, utilities have built massive desalination plants and pipelines to treat and pump seawater over large distances. Desalinated water consumption in UAE increased from 199,230 MIG in 2003 to 373,483 MIG in 2013 (Ministry of Energy 2014). In 2008, 89% of desalinated seawater in UAE came from thermal desalination plants and most of them are installed at combined cycle electric power plants (Lattemann and Höpner 2008). Desalination is energy as well capital intensive process. Pumping desalinated seawater from desalination plants to cities is also an expensive proposition.

Electrical energy consumption in UAE doubled from 48,155 GWh in 2003 to 105,363 GWh in 2013. In 2013, UAE has the highest 10th electricity use per capita in the world (The World Bank 2014). Electricity in UAE is generated by fossil-fuel-fired thermoelectric power plants. Generation of electricity in that way requires large volumes of water to mine fossil fuels, to remove pollutants from power plants exhaust, generate steam that turns steam turbines, to cool down power plants, and flushing away residue after burning fossil fuels (IEEE Spectrum 2011).

Water production in UAE requires energy and energy generation in UAE requires water. So there is strong link between water and energy in UAE. The link between water and electricity production further complicates the water-energy supply in UAE, especially in winter when energy load drops significantly thus forcing power plants to work far from optimum points.

Several projects have been carried out in UAE to reduce water and energy intensity. Currently, the use of non-traditional water resources is limited to minor water reuse/recycling in UAE. Masdar Institute launched recently a new program to develop desalination technology that is powered by renewable energy (Masdar 2013).

Water-energy nexus in the UAE should be resilient and adaptive

Water-energy nexus in the UAE should be resilient and adaptive

Despite their interdependencies, water-energy nexus is not given due importance in the UAE. Currently, water systems in the UAE are vulnerable and not resilient to even small water and energy shortages. To solve this problem, water-energy nexus in UAE should be resilient and adaptive. Thus, there is a need to develop and demonstrate a new methodology that addresses water and energy use and supply in UAE cities in an integrated way leading to synergistic type benefits and improved water and energy security. Modern, cutting-edge science and engineering methods should be used with the goal of developing a robust framework that can identifying suitable future development scenarios, selection criteria and intervention options resulting in more reliable, resilient and sustainable water and energy use.

References

IEEE Spectrum. How Much Water Does It Take to Make Electricity? 2011. http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/how-much-water-does-it-take-to-make-electricity (accessed December 6, 2016).

Lattemann, Sabine, and Thomas Höpner. "Environmental impact and impact assessment of seawater desalination." Desalination, 2008: 1-15.

Masdar. Renewable Energy Desalination Pilot Programme. 2013. http://www.masdar.ae/en/energy/detail/renewable-energy-water-desalination-in-uae (accessed 12 7, 2016).

Ministry of Energy. Statistical Data for Electricity and Water 2013-2014. Abu Dhabi, 2014.

The World Bank. n.d. http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-arab-emirates?view=chart (accessed December 6, 2016).

The World Bank. Electric power consumption (kWh per capita). 2014. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.ELEC.KH.PC?year_high_desc=true (accessed December 7, 2016).

Wikipedia. List of countries by total renewable water resources. 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_total_renewable_water_resources (accessed December 6, 2016).

World Resources Institute. Ranking the World’s Most Water-Stressed Countries in 2040. 2015. http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/08/ranking-world’s-most-water-stressed-countries-2040 (accessed December 6, 2016).

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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Peak Oil: Perspectives for Saudi Arabia

PeakOil-SaudiArabiaThe term ‘peak oil’ is ominous to the Middle East, as most of the countries in the region are heavily dependent on oil and natural gas for industrial, economic and social development. Petroleum is considered one of the world’s most important sources of energy generation, after uranium, of course. Many other substances have been tested in order to be used as alternatives to petroleum, but none have hitherto been successful. Scientific research illustrates how the world is facing catastrophe if it doesn’t find an alternative to oil, as it is currently impossible for the global economy to grow without sufficient amounts of energy which are adapted to the demands of this growth. There is more discussion now than ever before about how the world is definitely starting to approach a stage of peak oil.

What is Peak Oil

Peak oil is a termed coined by the renowned American geologist King Hubbert in the fifties. He managed to predict an oil peak in several regions in America which would occur in the seventies; and exactly what this scientist predicted did in fact happen. For when oil extraction reaches extreme levels it begins to decline and gradually ends. Oil is considered a finite resource, or one which isn’t renewed as it is used up.

This theory confirms that global oil production has reached its peak today and has started declining inexorably now that 50% of the world’s oil reserves have been consumed. This proves that oil could be on the brink of depletion if clear and serious plans are not put in place to guide consumption and therefore encourage using provisional reserves in the best way. However, this theory is not accepted by many or by those who continue to focus on how large the earth’s oil reserves are, and how they only need investment so that they can be drilled.

Peak Oil Scenario for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is considered one of the largest global oil exporters and the only one able to regulate and stabilise the global oil market, thanks to its reserve stocks. These reserves are calculated to be at 265.4 billion barrels, or what is enough to last, at the current level of production, for more than 72 years. According to ARAMCO reports, there are around a trillion barrels that will be discovered in the future and will satisfy global demands, despite current consumption, for one whole century.

 Saudi Arabia is currently focussing its efforts on drilling and extracting natural gas, as it doesn’t import it but depends on domestic production. Alongside this, the Saudi Kingdom is currently making huge investments in nuclear energy and solar power.

But can natural gas and renewable energy be relied upon as alternatives to oil in order to satisfy Saudi Arabia’s domestic needs, which are rapidly growing each day? According to a recent report by America’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), Saudi Arabia is the largest oil-consuming nation in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia consumed 2.9 million barrels per day of oil in 2013, almost double the consumption in 2000, because of strong industrial growth and subsidised prices. One important contributor to Saudi oil demand is the direct crude oil burn for power generation. There is not just enough fuel oil and natural gas to meet the demand and hence the resorting to crude oil.

Has peak oil really arrived? If not today, then when? And how will it look, especially for countries totally dependent on oil? Will its consequences be different for both developed and under-developed nations?  Given that global demand for oil will only grow to exceed 100 million barrels a day after 2020, according to the most extreme estimates, I believe that the time may have come for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to start planning for what follows the oil era.

Despite looming threat of peak oil, power generation capacity in KSA is expected to rise from current level of 58GW to 120GW by 2032, however Saudi Arabia cannot afford to burn rising crude oil volumes for power generation. In spite of the fifth largest natural gas reserves in the world, it does not produce sufficient gas for power generation and for its vast petrochemical industry. The only solution at this point of time is transition to low-carbon economy whereby Saudi Arabia make use of its massive solar energy potential, implement effective measures for improving energy efficiency in the industrial sector and remove huge energy subsidies for industrial and domestic users.

 

Note: The article has been translated from Arabic by Katie Holland who graduated from Durham University in 2015 with a degree in Arabic and French, having also studied Persian. Currently working in London, she hopes to develop a career that uses her knowledge of Arabic and the Middle East, alongside pursuing her various interests in the arts. 

Solar Energy Prospects in Tunisia

Tunisia is an energy-dependent country with modest oil and gas reserves. Around 97 percent of the total energy is produced by natural gas and oil, while renewables contribute merely 3% of the energy mix. The installed electricity capacity in 2014 was 4,799 MW which is expected to sharply increase to 7,500 MW by 2021 to meet the rising power demands of the industrial and domestic sectors. Needless to say, Tunisia is building additional conventional power plants and developing its solar and wind capacities to sustain economic development.

Solar Energy Potential

Tunisia has good renewable energy potential, especially solar and wind, which the government is trying to tap to ensure a safe energy future. The country has very good solar radiation potential which ranges from 1800 kWh/m² per year in the North to 2600kWh/m² per year in the South. The total installed capacity of grid-connected renewable power plant was around 312 MW in 2014 (245 MW of wind energy, 62 MW of hydropower and 15 MW of PV), that was just 6% of the total capacity. 

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

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

Tunisian Solar Program (PROSOL)

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

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

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

 

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

TuNur Concentrated Solar Power Project

TuNur CSP project is Tunisia's most ambitious renewable energy project yet. The project consists of a 2,250 MW solar CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) plant in Sahara desert and a 2 GW HVDC (High-Voltage Direct Current) submarine cable from Tunisia to Italy. TuNur plans to use Concentrated Solar Power to generate a potential 2.5GW of electricity on 100km2 of desert in South West Tunisia by 2018. As per project objectives, solar power will be exported to Italy via a 1,000km high-voltage DC cable and then connected to European grids as far afield as the UK. At present the project is at the fund-raising stage.

 

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An Introduction to Smart Grid

A smart grid is an electrical grid that uses information and communications technology to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity.

Smart grids are now being used in electricity networks, from the power plants all the way to the consumers of electricity in homes and businesses. The “grid” amounts to the networks that carry electricity from the plants where it is generated to consumers. The grid includes wires, substations, transformers, switches etc. The major benefits are significant improvement in energy efficiency on the electricity grid as well as in the energy users’ homes and offices.

What is Smart Grid

In a typical smart grid, central management center controls all the units connected to it making sure to operate them at the highest efficiencies. The central management center does not only assist in better energy management inside the facility but also it helps in reducing the electrical consumption during peak times. This reduction is reflected as huge energy savings.

A smart grid also facilitates switch from conventional energy to renewable energy. In case of having a source of renewable energy in the facility, the grid allows an easy access to integrate it into the grid. Smart grid permits greater penetration of highly variable renewable sources of energy, such as wind power and solar energy.

Smart grid is a new gateway to a green future. It not only provides better energy benefits but also opens up new avenues of employment for youngsters. For example, conversion of normal operating units into smart ones capable of connecting to the smart grid is full of new and exciting opportunities. The global market for smart instruments is trending up with out-of-the-box ideas and innovations from young energetic minds.  

Smart Grid Prospects in the Middle East

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. A smart grid network makes for the ideal bridge where the goals of modernization can meet those of a reliable public infrastructure.

Regional countries such as UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are moving ahead smart meter rollouts. The high incomes in those countries, high electricity consumption, and small populations will drive smart meter deployments in the medium-term. The technologies used and lessons learned in these deployments will then be diffused throughout the region.

Smart grid offers an excellent opportunity to modernize Middle East 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 deployment of smart energy systems.

In the last few years, the number of events, conferences and meetings focused on smart grid and smart energy has sky-rocketed in the Middle East. The growing amount of attention being paid to this area reflects an increased sense of urgency to meet the energy requirements of fast-growing population and sustain the rapid industrial growth across the region.

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Waste-to-Energy Outlook for Jordan

A “waste crisis” is looming in Jordan with more than 2 million tons of municipal waste and 18,000 tons of industrial wastes being generated each year at an annual growth rate of 3 percent. Alarmingly, less than 5 per cent of solid waste is currently recycled in Jordan. These statistics call for a national master plan in order to reduce, manage and control waste management in the country. The main points to be considered are decentralized waste management, recycling strategy and use of modern waste management technologies. Currently there is no specific legal framework or national strategy for solid waste management in Jordan which is seriously hampering efforts to resolve waste management situation.

Waste can be converted into energy by conventional technologies (such as incineration, mass-burn, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas capture). Municipal solid waste can also be efficiently converted into energy and fuels by advanced thermal technologies, such as gasification and pyrolysis. Landfill gas capture projects represent an attractive opportunity for Jordan as huge landfills/dumpsites are present in all cities and towns.

A 1 MW pilot demonstration project using municipal solid waste (MSW) through landfill and biogas technology systems was constructed and commissioned in 2001.  The project was expanded in 2008 to about 4 MW.  Jordan plans to introduce about 40-50 MW waste energy power projects by 2020. However, biomass energy projects offer a low potential in Jordan because of the severe constraints on vegetation growth imposed by the arid climate. It has been estimated that animal and solid wastes in Jordan represent an energy potential of about 105 toe annually, but municipal solid waste represents a major fraction with a gross annual production rate of more than 2 million tons.

More than 80% of actual total manure generation is concentrated in 4 northern Governorates Al Zarqa, Amman, Al-Mafraq and Irbid. More than 80% of cattle manure is being produced in three northern Governorates Al-Zarqa, Al-Mafraq and Irbid. More than 80% of poultry manure production is located in 5 northern Governorates Amman, Irbid, Al-Zarqa, Al-Mafraq and Al-Karak. An exception is sheep manure. More than 90% of sheep manure is available in three Governorates Aqaba (40%), Al-Mafraq (25%) and Al-Zarqa (25%).

Conclusion

In Jordan, waste-to-energy can be applied at small-scale for heating/cooking purposes, or it can be used at a large-scale for power generation and industrial heating. Waste-to-energy can thus be adapted rural as well as or urban environments in the country, and utilized in domestic, commercial or industrial applications.

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Biomass Energy and its Promise

Biomass is the material derived from plants that use sunlight to grow which include plant and animal material such as wood from forests, material left over from agricultural and forestry processes, and organic industrial, human and animal wastes. Biomass comes from a variety of sources including wood from natural forests, agricultural residues, agro-industrial wastes, animal manure, organic industrial wastes, municipal solid wastes, sewage sludge etc. When biomass is left lying around on the ground it breaks down over a long period of time, releasing carbon dioxide and its store of energy slowly. By burning biomass its store of energy is released quickly and often in a useful way.

Technology Options

Biomass resources can be transformed into clean energy and/or fuels by a variety of technologies, including thermal and biochemical. Besides recovery of energy, these technologies can lead to a substantial reduction in the overall waste quantities requiring final disposal.

As far as thermal technologies are concerned, biomass can be converted into energy by simple combustion, by co-firing with other fuels or through some intermediate process such as gasification and pyrolysis. The energy produced can be high calorific value gases, electrical power, heat or both (combined heat and power). The advantage of utilizing heat as well as or instead of electrical power is the marked improvement of conversion efficiency – electrical generation has a typical efficiency of around 30%, but if heat is used efficiencies can rise to more than 85%.

Biochemical processes, like anaerobic digestion, can also produce clean energy in the form of biogas which can be converted to power and heat. In addition, biomass can also yield liquid fuels, such as bioethanol or biodiesel, which can be used to replace petroleum-based fuels. Algal biomass is also emerging as a good source of energy because it can serve as natural source of oil, which conventional refineries can transform into jet fuel or diesel fuel.

Applicability

Biomass energy technology is quite flexible and can be applied at a small, localized scale primarily for heat, or it can be used in much larger base-load power generation capacity whilst also producing heat. Biomass generation can thus be tailored to rural or urban environments, and utilized in domestic, commercial or industrial applications.

Biomass conversion reduces greenhouse gas emissions in two ways.  Heat and electrical energy is generated which reduces the dependence on power plants based on fossil fuels. GHG emissions are significantly reduced by preventing methane emissions from landfills.  Moreover, biomass energy plants are highly efficient in harnessing the untapped sources of energy from biomass wastes.

Major Benefits

Biomass energy systems offer significant possibilities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to their immense potential to replace fossil fuels in energy production. Biomass reduces emissions and enhances carbon sequestration since short-rotation crops or forests established on abandoned agricultural land accumulate carbon in the soil.

Biomass energy usually provides an irreversible mitigation effect by reducing carbon dioxide at source, but it may emit more carbon per unit of energy than fossil fuels unless biomass fuels are produced unsustainably. Biomass can play a major role in reducing the reliance on fossil fuels. In addition, the increased utilization of biomass-based fuels will be instrumental in safeguarding the environment, generation of new job opportunities, sustainable development and health improvements in rural areas. Biomass energy could also aid in modernizing the agricultural economy.

When compared with wind and solar energy, biomass plants are able to provide crucial, reliable baseload generation. Biomass plants provide fuel diversity, which protects communities from volatile fossil fuels. Since biomass energy uses domestically-produced fuels, biomass power greatly reduces our dependence on foreign energy sources and increases national energy security.

Global Trends

Biomass energy has rapidly become a vital part of the global renewable energy mix and account for an ever-growing share of electric capacity added worldwide. As per a recent UNEP report, total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,470 GW in 2012, up 8.5% from 2011. Renewable energy supplies around one-fifth of the final energy consumption worldwide, counting traditional biomass, large hydropower, and “new” renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels).

Traditional biomass, primarily for cooking and heating, represents about 13 percent and is growing slowly or even declining in some regions as biomass is used more efficiently or replaced by more modern energy forms. Some of the recent predictions suggest that biomass energy is likely to make up one third of the total world energy mix by 2050. Infact, biofuel provides around 3% of the world’s fuel for transport.

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.