The Gulf Co-operation Council countries are likely to spend up to USD 25 billion over the next decade to install new power generation capacity to meet their burgeoning electricity demand, according to a report in Gulf News.

Adnan Ameen, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) was quoted as saying that “As a result of high economic and population growth rates, regional energy demand and electricity consumption are increasing rapidly. Just to meet this demand, the GCC will require 100 GW of additional power generating capacity over the next ten years. This translates to an investment of USD 25 billion.”

Mr Ameen said that the rapid increase in electricity consumption is having a substantial effect on the region’s oil and gas industries. It is boosting demand for natural gas, which is creating a gas supply shortage in the region. It is also boosting demand for the region’s heavily subsidised hydrocarbons which in turn is reducing the volumes exported and the revenues received.

Sustainable solutions will continue to be a part of the investment.The UAE has launched the Masdar initiative investing billions of dollars in developing renewable energy projects including Masdar City, the world’s first zero carbon zero waste city, and the Masdar Institute which is focused on research into alternative energy technologies and sustainable development issues. Other GCC countries are investing in renewable energy projectswell. Bahrain is planning a large offshore wind farm; Kuwait aims to install considerable solar generation capacity; Oman is planning six renewable energy pilot projects; Qatar is considering investments in seven solar plants and Saudi Arabia has plans for USD 133 million in renewable energy projects.

He said that Irena foresees that by the middle of this century, renewable energy has the potential to become a leading economic sector in GCC countries. With its endowment of natural resources, the GCC can not only meet its domestic energy demand but could also become a major exporter of energy derived from renewable resources.