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Renewables a climate mitigation and economic diversification opportunity for Gulf countries – IRENA

Renewables a climate mitigation and economic diversification opportunity for Gulf countries – IRENA
Renewable energy generation capacity in the GCC countries (MW), 2013-2022 (graphic courtesy IRENA).

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has unveiled a report on the progress of renewable energy in countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that suggests that GCC countries can leverage existing resources to develop innovative renewable energy-based solutions not only to mitigate climate change, but also to diversify their economies, create jobs, and reduce environmental impacts of the energy sector.

As COP28 is underway in the heart of the GCC, the Renewable Energy Markets: GCC 2023 report serves as a resource and reference point for policymakers, businesses, and civil society in harnessing the region’s vast renewable resource potential.

At less than US cents 2 per kilowatt hour (kWh), solar PV is now the least-cost option for power production in the GCC, outpacing natural gas, liquefied natural gas, oil, coal, and nuclear power.

Plummeting generation costs and abundant solar and wind resources in the region open the door for innovative energy technologies, such as green hydrogen, to be produced competitively.

As the world ushers in a new energy era, the GCC region has a unique opportunity to maintain a leading role in the global energy market. Momentum in the region builds, as GCC states develop increasingly ambitious renewable energy and hydrogen strategies and pursue the implementation of their net-zero commitments, said Francesco La Camera, Director-General at IRENA.

GCC countries need to play a larger role

The report underscores a significant increase in the GCC’s installed renewable power capacity, from 176 megawatts in 2013 to over 5.6 gigawatts in 2022.

However, renewables still only account for a negligible amount of the region’s electricity capacity, while end-users continue to rely on fossil fuels.

Public investments in infrastructure and value chains can further drive and enable the deployment of renewable energy and associated benefits, the report finds.

It emphasizes building on existing energy infrastructure, including enhancing regional grid interconnections and developing infrastructure to support end uses of renewables, for example in transport.

The GCC countries need to play a larger role in achieving global targets, both domestically and internationally.

Beyond national efforts, GCC countries are in a position to support the energy transition in developing countries through international collaborative investments in renewable energy.

Renewables are now cost-effective in the GCC, with highly successful auctions resulting in world-record-low prices for solar. This is boosting the economic case and paves the way for the introduction of high shares of renewables in the electricity mix. Further sustained action is needed to translate ambitious targets into delivery on the ground, ended Francesco La Camera.

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