Some of the Middle Eastern members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] are pouring billions of dollars into renewable energy, mainly solar- and wind-power, but one has to beg the question, “With over 60% of the world’s petroleum reserves, why bother with renewable energy?” It’s mostly a question of economics, but is definitely a “green-on-green” situation.
No, OPEC hasn’t suddenly turned green, but they do have their eyes on the green, profits, that is. Seeing as their wealth doesn’t come from using their petroleum, but exporting it, then one begins to see why renewables make sense. If OPEC can use more renewable energy at home, then that means they’ll have more petroleum to export.
Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, notes, “Saudi Arabia is blessed with an abundance of sunshine,” making “solar energy a natural, logical focus.” Business is business, and exporting their vast reserves of petroleum has been very good business for OPEC. “I see renewable energy sources as…helping to prolong our continued export of crude oil,” he continued.
Major oil-importing countries like the US have relied so heavily on petroleum that they’ve having a very difficult time making the switch to renewables, instead, exploiting their own natural resources. This has had disastrous consequences, both for the green-conscious psyche, as well as the environment. One only has to mention the name Deepwater Horizon and you know what I’m talking about.
While major world powers continue to haggle over how much renewable energy is going to take from their bank accounts, they elephant-in-the-room, global warming, continues to get only minor attention. This is good news for OPEC’s coffers, but even OPEC sees the need for renewable energy sources.
A recent study in 2009, conducted by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development, found that one meter of sea level rise could erase over 25,000 square miles of coastal land in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Kuwait, Bahrain, and UAE.
Clearly, OPEC has recognized the link between their petroleum reserves and the global warming phenomenon, and is taking steps to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, but this hasn’t stopped them from making a profit off the rest of the world who still can’t kick the habit. And when OPEC finally stops the flow of oil, either for economic or environmental reasons, they can probably sell renewable energy to the rest of the world.