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Resource mapping critical to GCC renewable energy quest
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 03 - 07 - 2012

ABU DHABI – Research institutions, policymakers, and utilities from the six GCC countries convened for the first time to identify collaboration opportunities in resource mapping activities and discuss renewable energy plans, especially sharing past experiences and requirements in resource assessment, at a workshop in Abu Dhabi.
During the workshop titled "Renewable energy assessment in the GCC: Networking competencies", IRENA introduced the Global Renewable Energy Atlas, which is set to become the world's most comprehensive source of information on renewable energy assessments, including those for the GCC countries.
The workshop was co-organized by the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA-DECC), the Abu Dhabi-headquartered International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology's Research Center for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment.
Dr. Hosni Ghedira, Director, UAE Research Center for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment, Masdar Institute, said: "Accurate mapping of renewable energy resources using adapted tools for the GCC's climate will be critical to the success of the GCC energy sector."
The UAE Solar Atlas, supported by the country's leadership, is expected to encourage other countries in the region to implement renewable energy projects.
"The GCC is an emerging center for renewable energy research, as countries have announced major building programs to complement their hydrocarbon strengths, but face unique climate challenges in identifying the best locations for renewable energy projects. In particular, the assessment of renewable energy resources in the GCC should account for the impacts of dust, humidity, and heat."
During a session titled "'Possible synergies at technical level", delegates focused on the potential value and structure of a network among GCC technical institutes and governments to build and refine competencies in renewable resource assessments and mapping, with a view to reducing project costs and improving accuracy.
The GCC has initiated several renewable energy projects. Some of the major solar thermal plants in the pipeline include the 100 MW Shams-1 in Abu Dhabi, a 60MW integrated solar combined cycle in Kuwait and a 200MW CSP plant in Oman.
The GCC countries have also set ambitious strategic renewable energy goals.
Saudi Arabia announced an ambitious target of 41GW solar capacity by 2030, with a technology split of 25GW concentrated solar power (CSP) and 16GW photovoltaics (PV) that is expected to contribute up to 16-22 percent of the country's total energy generation.
Bahrain and Kuwait each aim to produce 5 percent and Oman 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030, 2020 and 2030, respectively. The Qatar General Electricity & Water Corp (Kahramaa) has announced 3,500MW will be generated using solar technologies by 2013, which may increase to 4,500MW by 2036.
Such projects exemplify the relevance of the GCC workshop in Abu Dhabi that aimed to emphasize the use of special tools that account for the region's climatic conditions and provide accurate mapping of renewable energy resources critical to the success of the energy sector.
Gauri Singh, Director of Knowledge Management and Technology Cooperation at IRENA, said: "Providing a range of reliable and well-understood services is part of our mandate to help the global community adopt clean energy sources. The Global Renewable Energy Atlas that is being unveiled here today marks another significant step that we believe will benefit all stakeholders. The workshop in Abu Dhabi is part of our efforts towards knowledge sharing, enabling policies and enhanced capacity, as well as the encouragement of investment flows and strengthened technology and innovation. As a convening instrument, we are delighted to offer our services to support the implementation of GCC region's clean energy policies."
Dr. Steve Griffiths, Executive Director, Institute Initiatives, Masdar Institute, said: "Resource assessment and mapping has gained significance as part of the GCC region's rapid ongoing adoption of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, which complement abundant hydrocarbon resources. Such assessment and mapping will be the foundation of this diversification, as it allows countries and project developers to identify geographic locations where renewable resources can be tapped to deliver energy at the lowest cost. The workshop at Masdar Institute highlighted the need for greater collaborations among the GCC countries and we believe the discussions will lead to productive results over the coming months."
Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Director of MoFA-DECC, said: "The UAE's energy mix will have a sizeable portion of power supply from renewable sources and the official releasing of the Solar Atlas at the Rio+20 Summit strongly reinforces this commitment. The first-ever meeting of GCC policy experts in Abu Dhabi also validates the region's intention to adopt clean energy as a key component in the energy policy. We are confident the outcome of the workshop will be assessed by individual GCC members while implementing sustainable measures for their social and economic progress." – SG

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