The major oil producing countries that call the Middle East and North Africa region home could make use of abundant renewable energy resources and transition to a fully renewable energy system in the coming decades.
Specifically, according to researchers at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) in Finland, Iran could transition to a fully renewable electricity system and benefit financially from such a move by only 2030. Zooming further out, the researchers believe that major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could make use of the abundant and various renewable energy resources available to them and develop a lucrative system in less than two decades.
In fact, the researchers determined that a fully renewable electricity system is approximately 50% to 60% cheaper than other emission-free energy options across the MENA region. The costs of such a system would be around €60 ($63) to €40 ($42) per megawatt-hour (MWh) (based on financial and technical assumptions for 2030). This compares impressively with the €110 MWh for nuclear, and €120 MWh for Fossil-CCS options.
The price of such a 100% renewable electricity grid would only drop further if different energy resources were connected to a larger, super-grid that allowed for the transmission of high volumes of electricity across larger distances.
“The low cost renewable electricity system is a driver for growing standards of living, continued economic growth, in particular also for energy intensive products, and finally more peace,” sad LUT Professor Christian Breyer.
The research is part of a larger series being conducted by the researchers at Lappeenranta University of Technology which we have covered repeatedly over the years. In 2015 the researchers showed that solar and wind would prove the cheapest forms of electricity for Asia’s largest energy markets by 2025. They also showed how a 100% renewable energy system would work in Finland, across Russia & Central Asia, and would be the cheapest option for South America. The researchers also developed the first ever model depicting a 100% global renewable energy system.
Turning back to Iran, the LUT researchers predict that the country would need 49 GW of solar PV, 77 GW of wind energy, and 21 GW of hydropower. Of those figures, the majority of the hydropower already exists in the country, but solar and wind would need significant new investments. Nevertheless, wind and solar could be installed in many places throughout Iran and at a feasible cost as well.
“The picture that emerges from that study is that the fossil fuel industry can transform its business to meet the COP21 target of a net zero emission energy system,” said Breyer. “This requires fundamental change in how we think carbon, but it could potentially open major new business opportunities.”