Gulf shows signs of green revolution
It is not the sort of thing you expect to see in the middle of oil-rich Abu Dhabi, but here in a sandy spot by the emirate’s airport is a field of solar panels so vast it could easily blanket several football pitches. It is, say some, a sign of a green revolution poised to transform the Gulf’s energy landscape.
This may seem unlikely in a region with a ferocious appetite for air conditioning and desalinated water, and the distinction of being home to the world’s highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases – Qatar – host of this week’s UN climate talks.
“But it’s a necessity,” says Bader al-Lamki, head of clean energy at Masdar, the state-controlled company that built this solar plant to power Masdar City, a cluster of futuristic low-carbon buildings down the road.
With 8 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is not about to desert the fossil fuel business any time soon, he says. “But we also feel it’s important that renewables step in as a parallel source of energy we should embrace and deploy.”
Others are more emphatic about the region’s prospects. “This could be the world’s next renewable energy centre,” says Dubai-based Mark Robson of the Oliver Wyman consultancy, which has just compiled a global ranking of countries’ energy sustainability with the World Energy Council. The top 40 nations did not include a single Gulf country.