GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Building a knowledge based renewable energy industry in the GCC.
Paper Proposal Text :
The rapid economic growth of the GCC region driven mainly by energy intensive industries coupled with the warm climate and low energy prices has resulted in high levels of energy consumption per capita. Energy demand growth rate in the GCC is the fastest in the world reaching around 8% per year and is projected to increase at this level for the next decade. If no action is taken this soaring demand will eat into hydrocarbon exports which are the main source of income of the GCC governments. Hence to achieve sustainability, GCC countries started exploring alternative energy sources, motivated by the Gulf region’s high potential for renewable energy. Therefore many research and development projects relating to renewable energy were initiated in the GCC and many pilot projects were implemented. Following this research, all GCC countries set bold renewable energy targets to be achieved in the next couple of decades.

A number of renewable energy projects were initiated in the GCC, however these project where in all cases conducted in cooperation with foreign research institutions or companies. It is often the case that these technologies are imported to the GCC after these companies decided the most suitable technologies to be used; with the GCC countries lacking the technical knowledge to choose between different technologies or how to operate them. Furthermore in most renewable energy research institutions in the GCC the majority of the researchers are expatriates, with locals having minimal knowledge about renewable energy. Therefore, to develop a vibrant and innovative renewable energy industry in the GCC, locals need to develop the technical know-how to operate and maintain the renewable energy plants. This is particularly important in the renewable energy sector as the renewable energy technologies, especially solar power technologies can be developed to better meet the local conditions of the GCC countries. For instance the efficiency of solar panels decreases when placed in the GCC region due to high temperatures and the dusty and foggy environment. Therefore developing new technologies that can mitigate these inefficiencies can lead to significant benefits and savings for the GCC countries.

Given the low levels of knowledge of GCC locals in technical issues relating to operating renewable energy plants, cooperation with foreign research institutes is vital to develop and build the required knowledge. Knowledge sharing and researcher mobility between foreign renewable energy experts and GCC nationals and building transnational relations can help build a thriving knowledge based renewable energy industry in the GCC. Furthermore, renewable energy research in the GCC is decentralized with countries sometimes duplicating similar research conducted in another GCC country. Given the similarity in the economies of the GCC countries and the similarity in the climate and environment, cooperation and knowledge sharing between GCC countries will lead to many benefits. Collaboration between academia and industry is also very important for translating lab results into marketable products and for the establishment of a prosperous renewable energy industry. This paper will address the importance of knowledge sharing between GCC and foreign research institutes and between institutes within the GCC to integrate knowledge and develop a knowledge based renewable energy industry in the GCC.