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Wed 20 Jan 2016 02:06 PM

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Gulf countries could save up to $87bn with renewable energy

Meeting targets for solar and other renewable energy could also create an average of 140,000 jobs a year

Gulf countries could save up to $87bn with renewable energy
(Getty Images)

Gulf countries stand to save as much as $87 billion from lower oil and natural gas consumption if they achieve goals for renewables use by 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Meeting Gulf Cooperation Council targets for solar and other renewable energy could also create an average of 140,000 jobs a year, with 207,000 people employed in 2030, the Abu Dhabi-based Irena said in a 96-page report released Wednesday. The goals may already be pushed back, with Saudi Arabia, the largest of the GCC’s six member countries, delaying its target completion date for renewables by eight years to 2040.

Oil prices dropped almost 70 percent the past three years, prompting some Gulf countries to plan spending cuts or eliminate fuel subsidies. Renewable energy is taking on focus in the Gulf region as some GCC states can’t meet their own needs from traditional fuels because of growing demand, with the United Arab Emirates turning to natural-gas imports, according to the report.

The savings of $55 billion to $87 billion by 2030 is equal to 2.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, the Irena report showed. Carbon emissions could also be reduced by 1 gigaton by 2030, resulting in an 8 percent cut in the region’s per capita carbon footprint, it said.

GCC countries Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates comprise the world’s largest hydrocarbon-producing region, with about 30 percent of its proven crude reserves and 22 percent of gas, according to the report. Solar would account for 85 percent of renewables jobs in 2030, with waste-to-energy at 14 percent, Irena said.

Saudi Arabia’s program shows solar contributing 76 percent of its sustainable energy plans by 2040, with wind at 17 percent.

Water use could be cut by 16 percent in the power sector in the region, it said. In the U.A.E., fuel consumption in water and power industries could be cut 50 percent if targets are met, according to the report. Fuel use would drop 23 percent in Saudi Arabia and 21 percent in Kuwait, it said.

Sales of crude, petroleum products and natural gas generated almost 80 percent of total GCC government revenue in 2013, and regional energy consumption grew an average 5 percent a year since 2000, faster than India, China and Brazil, Irena said. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest crude exporter and Qatar the biggest shipper of liquefied natural gas.

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