25 July 2003 – Middle East and North African countries, facing power generation bills that will top $150bn over the next 20 years in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) area alone, are increasingly investing in new and renewable energy sources to supplement fossil fuel power stations.
According to the US government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), alternative power use in the region is expected to double to 2.4 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTU) by 2020, as countries strive to meet escalating demand for electricity, fuelled by booming populations, industrial development and stricter environmental regulations.
Among countries in the region planning to supplement electricity supplies with solar, wind or hydroelectric projects are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Turkey and Morocco.
Turkey and Iran are pioneers in renewable energy use in the Middle East. Hydroelectricity accounts for nearly 45 per cent of Turkey’s total installed power capacity-10 000 MW out of 23 000 MW and for over six per cent of Iran’s-2 000 MW out of 30 000 MW. Egypt also generates electricity from hydropower.
Turkey has the most ambitious renewable energy expansion plans in the Middle East, including the 1200 MW Ilisu scheme, part of the $32bn Southeastern Anatolian Water Project, known as GAP. When completed it will have 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric plants.
Wind power will also be used to help meet the country’s energy needs with phase one of a 350 MW scheme consisting of a 30 MW wind farm west of Istanbul and two other projects, near Ismir, with a combined capacity of 90 megawatts.
Meanwhile, Iran’s share of hydroelectricity is set to rise to 15 per cent of installed capacity by March 2004 and to 20 per cent by the end of 2009. The country’s first solar power plant in Shiraz is also due to be completed in September of this year. The $4.3 million plant will generate 250kw of electricity.
In North Africa, Morocco is investing $3.7bn in energy projects, a significant portion of which will go to wind projects, including the construction of two wind farms in Tangiers and Tarfaya, at a cost of $200 million. And Egypt is constructing a 30 MW solar power plant at Kureimat and a 60 MW wind project in the Suez Canal area.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Jordan is developing a solar hybrid plant. The estimated $200m project will use a solar energy system aided by fuel oil to generate electricity. The plant is expected to generate between 100 and 150 MW. The kingdom also has plans for three wind power stations, each with a 25-30 MW capacity, to be constructed on a build, own and operate basis.
In Africa, both South Africa and Uganda have substantial hydroelectric projects underway, including the $520m, 250 MW Bujagali dam complex, on the Nile, due to be operational in 2005.