Winds of change

How environmental initiatives and technologies across the region are moving from rhetoric to reality.

  • E-Mail
By  Tamara Walid Published  June 13, 2008

Green technologies are being developed across the region. Tamara Walid reports on how environmental initiatives are moving from rhetoric to reality.

As the price of crude smashes through increasing price barriers, energy-saving technologies are being adopted in the design of everything from airplanes to buildings.

Oil rich Gulf states have long been the laggards in driving environmentally-friendly policy.

But now that is changing as a raft of new green building codes and sustainability initiatives emerge from both the private and public sectors that include multi-billion dollar zero-carbon cities, environmental clusters and hybrid cars.

Developers are incorporating green benchmarks such as the LEED rating into their projects.

Most have been launched in the UAE as the Gulf state with one of the world's largest carbon footprints aims to reinvent itself as a ‘low carbon economy'.

"The energy markets in the world have been most diverse in oil and gas for the past decade however this is changing.

Abu Dhabi's share in the energy market has been growing until recently and to maintain its position in the energy market it must develop new forms of energy," says Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar - an initiative launched by the Abu Dhabi government to develop renewable and sustainable energy projects.

As the second-largest carbon-emitting country per capita in the world, after Qatar and followed by Bahrain and Kuwait, the UAE has a clear incentive to clean up its environmental act.

Abu Dhabi's Urban Planning Council has become the latest government organisation to announce a new green initiative with plans to introduce new building codes aimed at reducing emissions.

Sanctions may be enforced developers who fail to comply with the new regulations, which are still in development, and the council would refuse to give planning to permission to any new buildings that do not comply with the green standard.

Owners of existing buildings will also ultimately have to apply the regulations in order to make them more environmentally-friendly according to the plan.

The Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE, which hold 40% of the world's oil reserves, plan to spend US$25bn to add 45,000 megawatts of grid capacity to help keep pace with growth, Dubai is coming under increased pressure to conserve energy as the electricity grid struggles to cope with demand created by the ongoing construction boom.

Electricity consumption in Dubai rose 30% last year as projects to build offshore cities and the world's tallest tower sapped capacity. Dubai and neighbouring Sharjah are buying power from Abu Dhabi to meet summer demand.

Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building, is expected to consume 150 megawatts of power, equivalent to about 10% of the power produced by a new-generation nuclear reactor.

The emirate's power consumption is predicted to quadruple to 21,000 megawatts, equivalent to half of Florida's, over the next 12 years if growth doesn't slow down dramatically.

The regional energy crisis is most severe in Kuwait, which holds 8.4% of the world's oil but faces a 5000 megawatt electricity shortage by 2010, according to Paris-based Alstom SA, the world's third-biggest maker of power plants. It is enough to power 25 million homes.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code