The Economics of Renewable Energy in the Gulf, edited by Hisham Akhonbay (Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 2019), 246 pages, ISBN: 978-1-138-35190-5 hardback, 978-0-429-43497-6 ebook, 9780367584955 paperback.
When we think of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), renewable energy does not immediately come to mind. The six countries that comprise the GCC-Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-situated in one of the oiliest regions of the world-have enhanced their fortunes with and are still heavily dependent on petroleum. Yet all have stated goals for an increase in renewable energy as chronicled in this edited volume. The reasons arise from many of their shared challenges and environments. Their lands are arid with relatively high population growth rates and large potential for wind and solar energy. In some cases, they have relatively high unemployment rates for nationals especially for entry-level youth. They have high levels of non-nationals in the labor force (exceeding 40% in all 6 countries), and a high share of nationals employed in government jobs. The legacy practice of subsidizing water and energy have led to high use and increasing financial burdens for their governments. Keeping their economies healthy while diverting oil and gas from domestic use to the export market coupled with a desire to diversify their economies, provide new job opportunities and meet their climate policy commitments are some of the drivers of their push towards renewables.
This book was prepared by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPS ARC) in Saudi Arabia. Of the 26 authors represented in the 11 chapter almost a third are affiliated with KAPS ARC, a little more than a third are other regional experts affiliated with universities, research institutes, or government organizations within GCC countries with the remainder from other non-regional research organizations and universities including the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies and the United Nation Development Program. The book provides a nice overview of many aspects of GCC country's current situation and dependence on fossil fuels along with renewable aspirations, accomplishments, and hurdles to be met.
Hisham Akhonbay and Marilyn Smith set the stage in their short introductory chapter highlighting the solar and wind energy potential in the GCC, the need for the transition to renewables, and renewable targets by country. They include the requisite chapter-by-chapter synopsis. The topics can be grouped under some major themes-the current energy situation and its unsustainability, how to realize the renewable potential of the region, new policy frameworks needed, the need for integration within national energy systems and across the region, and additional potential benefits from new job creation and regional sharing of research and development.
In chapter 2, David Wogan, Imtenan Al-Mubarak, Abdullah Al-Badi, and Shreekar Pradhan lay further groundwork for the remaining chapters with their overview of current energy supply and demand in the GCC by country. They highlight the link between electricity generation and water production, the barrier of low hydrocarbon prices to renewable saturation, and the need for an integrated grid for electricity trade. They...