Renewable Energy in Bahrain – Perspectives

Bahrain is making significant move towards being viable and sustainable in the renewable energy sector, according to the Sustainable Energy Unit Annual Report 2018 published on September 2nd, 2019. The nation is moving forward one eco-friendly step at a time. A significant step forward is the establishment of the net-metering system which is a part of the National Renewable Energy Action Plan. This action plan embraces renewable energy as a viable and essential component for generating energy in Bahrain to ensure a sustainable future in energy production.

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Net-metering System

The net-metering system enables private individual households, companies and industry to install renewable energy systems, especially solar PV cell systems, on their property in order to generate an energy supply. The energy generated can first service the place of the initial energy harnessing, after which surplus energy can then be feed into the national grid through the EWA electricity network to supplement the national energy grid.

The benefits are a two-way arrangement whereby the national grid receives an enhanced energy supply while the energy provider receives a financial credit on the provider’s energy demand networked system.

Notable Initiatives

Other initiatives include the installation of solar PV systems on over 50 government building rooftops (approaching 9% of the government buildings in Bahrain) as well as on commercial operations such as the Avenues Mall in the Bahrain Harbour district. Solar energy capture is a natural and obvious choice in this part of the region. A comprehensive study of the potential of wind energy harnessing in Bahrain has also been undertaken. The labeling of energy efficient appliances, especially air conditioners, has been embraced by partnering with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.

The Sustainable Energy Unit (SEU) which was established in late 2014, is a centre that bridges between the Ministry of Electricity and Water Authority and with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This joint venture is charged to achieve a cohesive and sustainable energy policy for the Kingdom. The SEU will act as a bridge between the legal component, logistical planning, institutional facilitation, and generation of renewable energy that will meet the future needs and demands of the energy sector nationwide.

Since the inception of the SEU, two key policies for the Kingdom of Bahrain have been developed. The two plans are the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP).

The SEU unit has the mandate to lead and promote renewable energy production by endorsing the use of energy efficient technology. This unit also develops energy policies and frameworks, by identifying feasible energy models best suited to meet the needs of the stakeholders and the energy providers.

Rationale for Renewable Energy in Bahrain

The primary energy supply has grown by 4.2% over the past twenty years while the energy consumption rate has grown by 5.3% over the same time period (NEEAP Executive Summary Report, 2018). The non-industrial energy consumption rate has increased at a greater rate of 6.6% per year. The national power production is solely dependent on the generation of electricity from natural gas. The projection of current consumption far exceeds the current production or energy. Hence the need to embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency as viable options to ensure power for future generations.

By embracing renewable energy options, the nation will also be moving towards a reduction in CO2 emissions. It is envisaged that a target of 6% of energy generated will be from renewable course by 2025. The overall benefits will include a reduction in the energy production at the national level (due to localized solar PV systems) which will in effect mean monetary savings for the government, lower investment needs at the national level in terms of energy production, and a reduction in CO2 emissions as a nation.

Unending Benefits of Clean Energy

By installing solar photovoltaic systems on a domestic household and having your system net-metered into the national grid provides many benefits. These benefits are personal advantageous but are also beneficial to the surrounding environs. So it’s a win-win situation for the household owner, the community, the nation and for the globe. These benefits include reducing the dependence on fossil fuels and the associated harmful effects on the natural environment.

For the homeowner, the monthly electricity bill will be reduced significantly because you are generating your own energy source. Yes, there is a personal investment, but there are loan schemes available to help bridge the financial obligation. Over time, the benefits will all be direct financial gain and reduction in total expenditure. At the same time, individuals will be investing in their own country, helping to create new job opportunities as more people invest in renewable energy, and as stated earlier, you will contribute to enhancing a cleaner environment by lowering your individual carbon footprint.

Conclusion

Therefore, as individual households embrace renewable energy, eventually entire communities will be self-sustaining and securing all these benefits. The whole nation will also benefit as more communities embrace the self-sustaining practices in Bahrain.

About Claire Cosgrove

Dr Claire Cosgrove, Ph.D., is a Professor of Environmental Management and Environmental Science in the College of Sciences at AMA International University, Salmabad, Kingdom of Bahrain. Dr Cosgrove has lived and worked in a number of countries such as South Africa, USA, New Zealand and now in the Middle East. Her research work has covered air pollution, weather modification /cloud seeding, rainfall modelling and simulation and flood forecasting, to name a few areas of interest.
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