A new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency shows scaling up renewable energy in the GCC could reap multiple benefits.
The GCC, or Gulf Cooperation Council, represents Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — big hitters in the wider region. The new report, Renewable Energy Market Analysis: The GCC Region, published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), finds that scaling up renewable energy in the GCC will not only have benefits for the renewable energy industry and energy generation in the GCC, but could also save 11 trillion liters of water withdrawal, a 16% decrease in the region, create more than 200,000 direct jobs, save 400 million barrels of oil in the power sector (a 25% decrease), and reduce the per capita carbon footprint by 8% in 2030.
Of these indirect benefits, saving 11 trillion liters of water could be the most crucial, in a region which is only going to see water scarcity continue to grow over the coming decades. By scaling up renewable energy technologies, such as solar, which is inherently less water intensive than fossil fuel technologies, 16% less water could be withdrawn, leaving more water for other uses. Furthermore, switching to solar desalination could have an even greater impact on the rising demand for water over the long-term.
Of course, given that the GCC holds almost a third of all proven crude-oil reserves, and approximately a fifth of global gas reserves, there are going to be some sticking points with scaling up renewable energy at the cost of fossil fuels like oil — especially to the tune of 400 million barrels of oil.
“There have been many targets set in events like these, but not enough implementation,” Tanzeed Alam, Climate and Energy Director, EWS-WWF. “Many GCC countries want economic compensation for lost oil revenues. The narrative must change to consider health and environmental impacts. We want to see climate change and environmental policy plans with implementation and energy efficiency. We would like to see the limited government funds leverage private finance.”