GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Paper Proposal Text :
Prof. Ibrahim Abdel Gelil


The energy sector in the GCC, the largest economic sector contributing 47 % of the GCC’s total GDP, has played and will continue to play an important role in both the region’s and the global economy. In addition to satisfying energy needs for economic and social development, it is the source of oil and gas export revenues contributing about 80% of the government revenues.

Rapidly expanding populations, economic growth, and widespread subsidies have contributed to a rising demand for energy and carbon emissions in the GCC since the early 1990s. Although the GCC region represents 0.6% of the global population, it is responsible for 2.4% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced globally. The CO2 emission increases resulted not only from industrial expansion and use of subsidized fossil fuels, but also from a growth in the number of vehicles and inefficient or lack of public transportation. The average primary energy consumption reached nearly 9.1 toe per capita, equal to nearly five times the world average of 1.8 toe. Further, the average primary energy intensity in the region is 0.40 toe per 1000 US$ compared to a world average of 0.25 toe, reflecting low economic returns on energy consumption. The high per capita energy consumption as well as the higher energy and carbon intensities than the world averages pose serious challenges to shifting to more green patterns of energy use.

Decoupling economic growth from escalating energy and carbon intensity while making the transition to more sustainable forms of energy systems must be addressed. Energy efficiency is a necessity to achieve that objective. The driving forces for improving energy efficiency includes alleviating financial burden of energy subsidies, reducing energy investment requirements, making the best use of existing supply capacities, improving economic competitiveness, reducing local pollution, and mitigating GHG emissions. Though, the region has large potential for energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies particularly solar energy due to its high level of solar radiation, slow transition to green economy is remarked in the past few years. In spite of its abundant hydrocarbon resources, the GCC states have recently witnessed a number of low carbon green initiatives. These include the rooftop PV systems in Masdar City (1MW), KAUST buildings (2MW) in Thuwal (KSA), Qatar Exhibition Center (12MW); Masdar (10 MW) in Abu Dhabi; and solar thermal plants by Oman Petroleum Development Oman (7MW) in its West oil field, and Masdar Concentrating Solar Power Shams1 (100MW) in Abu Dhabi.

The transit towards green economy requires policies and measures, which are well stipulated in the “The Arab Regional Strategy for Sustainable Consumption and Production”. The strategy identified a set of strategic objectives to green the energy sector, among which are improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy in the fuel mix, and disseminating renewable energy technologies. The same strategy pinpoints a whole list of needed policy interventions. These include, but not limited to, reforming existing energy tariffs so as to integrate environmental and social costs while maintaining energy subsidies
for the poor; improving energy efficiency, particularly in energy intensive industries, transport, and electricity generation; developing and wide use of renewable energy technologies, and supporting air quality management though better urban planning and land use.

This paper will analyze the current socio-economic contexts and scan the energy efficiency and RE energy policies and measures in the region. This includes a detailed account on the current policy and institutional framework, and the national renewable energy targets. A set of barriers to transition to green economy in the region has been identified and will be discussed. These especially include heavy energy subsidies, insufficient incentives provided to support green energy development, costly financing, among many. The paper will finally discuss a set of policy and regulatory recommendations to overcome those barriers.