The Gulf desert states are some of the largest greenhouse gas polluters in the world. Fossil fuels are consumed at record speed thanks to desalination, large-scale construction projects, and widespread air conditioner use. Projects fueled by the gas and oil industry also contribute to large scale fossil fuel consumption.
To add insult to injury, Saudi Arabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Quatar, and a host of other countries are having serious trouble meeting local energy demand. Contributing factors include massive construction projects and rapid economic expansion. In fact, a 2009 study published by the US Government’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center found the majority of carbon emissions per person came from Quatar. Kuwait was the fourth largest emitter.
In order to combat this ecological, and perhaps economic, catastrophe, Saudi Arabia has plans for solar power to account for one third of its domestic energy needs by 2032. While some have questioned the altruism of this initiative, experts assure that this is ultimately about economic and energy security and not a PR move.
To date, the shift in renewable energy is gravitating toward the most prevalent sources, energy and wind. However, experts estimate if the Gulf countries use non-conventional hydrocarbons (shale oil and gas), the area may be transformed and may one day mirror the improving energy position of the US.
If estimates are inaccurate, if electricity demand is lower than expected and economic growth is slower than predicted, any and all energy conservation measures will become more effective.
While promoting alternative energy in a region that has thrived on and consumed massive amounts of fossil fuels is overwhelming, alternative energy and environmental awareness groups are pushing to change the course of energy consumption in the Gulf states, hopefully leading to much lowered CO2 emissions and a healthier environment.