NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: RENEWABLES IN THE COMING ARAB WORLD

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    Monday, September 15, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: RENEWABLES IN THE COMING ARAB WORLD

    Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy 2030; Roadmap of Actions for Implementation 2014 (International Renewable Energy Agency)

    Summary

    The adoption of the “Pan-Arab Strategy for the Development of Renewable Energy Applications: 2010 – 2030” by the 3rd Arab Economic and Social Development Summit of January 2013 represents an important milestone for the deployment of renewable energy technologies (RETs) in the region with a focus on electricity generation. For the first time, Arab governments have come to a broad political consensus on long-term targets for RET deployment in the region. Based on the approved national targets, the strategy includes cumulative targets to increase renewable energy that translate into about 75 gigawatts (GW) of installed power generation capacity in the Arab countries by 2030.

    In support of the strategy realisation, the Energy Department of the League of Arab States recently introduced the Arab Renewable Energy Framework (AREF) to provide guidance to member states in developing their medium to long-term national renewable energy action plans (NREAP). The AREF also aims to create a regional framework for reporting on renewable energy progress in a coherent and harmonised way. During its 10th meeting in April 2013, the Arab Ministerial Council for Electricity requested the circulation of AREF and accompanying NREAP templates to the member states for comments.

    Realisation of the strategy requires a concerted effort not only at a policy and regulatory levels, but also in terms of technical and financial support. More importantly, the success of the strategy depends on regional coordination at all levels and among all stakeholders in order to avoid duplication of efforts. Recognising the importance of regional coordination, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) collaborated with the League of Arab States and the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE) to create a regional process to advance the implementation of the Arab renewable energy strategy and support the member states with the implementation of AREF. This report, Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy: Roadmap of Actions for Implementation, is an outcome of this collaboration.

    The process of developing the actions roadmap involved stakeholder consultations with national governments and many regional actors. This process was enabled by IRENA’s efforts to help countries move towards renewable energy by focusing on key regional priorities and supporting countries to identify their renewable-energy readiness.

    This report mainly targets national and regional decision-makers as well as regional and multilateral organizations, in an attempt to formulate a regional set of priorities for all stakeholders. It presents the results of the study that covered all Arab countries (22 States including Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen). The report summarizes the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy and highlights the main motives for its adoption, and its relation with the AREF key provisions and NREAP template as tools for implementation. Furthermore, this report provides an updated and comprehensive overview of the renewable energy situation in the Arab countries. This overview includes an assessment of the region’s renewable energy resource potential, current installed renewable energy capacity and project pipeline, national renewable energy targets, institutional and market frameworks for renewable energy deployment, and an assessment of local manufacturing potential. An overview of renewable energy financing in the region and support policies for private sector investment is also presented.

    The report analyses the main gaps concerning renewable energy deployment in the region. Three categories of gaps have been identified: (1) political, legal, regulatory and institutional; (2) financial, market and economic; and (3) technological, infrastructure and human capacity. In addition, key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) for the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy and possibilities to maximise renewable energy deployment in the region are illustrated.

    A set of actions is proposed as a roadmap for individual Arab countries to fill their gaps and help achieve their national targets. These country-specific actions are consistent with AREF and NREAP and tailored to the conditions in the Arab region. It is worth mentioning here that these national targets do not represent the maximum possible deployment in the region. On the contrary, IRENA’s REmap 2030 initiative shows more is possible beyond the national targets of the power sector as well as in the end-use sectors. However, the focus of this study is to help countries realize their politically endorsed targets particularly in the electricity sector.

    Based on commonalities in these country-specific actions, a regional roadmap of actions and a list of priority regional interventions are further provided to support the deployment of renewable energy in the region. The proposed roadmap will serve as a guideline for the Arab renewable energy market to accelerate its rate of development, support governments’ efforts towards fulfilling future renewable energy targets, and overcome potential gaps and barriers. The study recommends focusing regional cooperation activities in the next couple of years on several initiatives that can influence and expedite the countries’ readiness to prepare their NREAPs:

    • Create technical and financial assistance programmes to support Arab states in designing their respective NREAPs.

    • Develop and fund a comprehensive, holistic capacity-building project covering the entire renewable energy development life cycle, including planning, resource assessment, feasibility studies and implementation.

    • Explore potentials and opportunities for untapped renewable energy options, including heating and cooling, water desalination, biomass, geothermal, small hydro and pumped storage options.

    • Launch the grid integration initiative (Clean Energy Initiative in the Arab Region) to integrate greater amounts of renewable electricity in the power systems.

    • Enhance renewable energy administrative and spatial planning governance.

    • Create a framework for improving financial cooperation in the Arab region to accelerate renewable energy deployment, and to mitigate investment risks for public and private sectors.

    • Conduct regional studies to assess the situation of local manufacturing and future integration plans.

    The success of this roadmap of actions will depend on the level of coordination among the various organisations active in renewable energy promotion in the region. A clear coordination and follow-up mechanism is needed to ensure that regional actions support this roadmap without duplication of effort. While the details of this mechanism need to be developed collectively by willing stakeholders, its general outlines are clear. IRENA, the League of Arab States and the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency are advised to convene a regional working group with representatives from all major stakeholders (e.g., AMU, AUE, UNECA, UNESCWA, EIB, MEDGRID, MSP, Dii, and OME). The working group will be responsible for horizontal coordination among these various organisations in support of implementing the recommendations of this study…

    Conclusion

    The Arab region has several strengths to pave the way for wide deployment of renewable energy: high resource potential; political commitment through declaring national strategies, targets and policies; land availability in many countries; regional experiences in project development in some countries; and the availability of regional funding from a number of Arab and international banks and financing institutions.

    Furthermore, the current decrease in RET costs worldwide, growth of energy demand in all Arab countries, declining reserves of fossil-fuel in some Arab countries, and rising interest in renewable energy by the private sector and international institutions, mean that countries have an opportunity to grow their renewable energy market substantially.

    Nevertheless, to date renewable energy deployment in the region has been inadequate. With the exception of a few utility-scale projects in North Africa and UAE, RETs have been largely used for the purposes of research, development, demonstration and deployment. This trend is changing. Arab governments have been giving growing attention to RETs since the turn of the century. At the regional level, multiple initiatives have emerged to support the integration of national activities into a regional effort. This national and regional attention has culminated in the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy 2030. By adopting this strategy, Arab countries have sent a clear political message about their commitment to de-carbonising a portion of their energy systems by 2030. Furthermore, the development of the AREF and NREAP template demonstrates the willingness of national governments to implement this strategy.

    However, Arab governments are facing significant national and regional gaps that limit their ability to properly develop and implement national renewable energy plans. The report has identified three main categories of gaps: (1) political, legal, regulatory and institutional; (2) financial, market and economic; and (3) technological, infrastructure and human capacity. Unless these gaps are bridged, the majority of countries in the region will not be able to take the action plan through its full cycle, from development to implementation to monitoring and evaluation. Well-designed, timely interventions are needed to bridge these gaps and enable Arab states to develop their renewable energy markets to their full potential.

    Interventions to support renewable energy deployment in the region need to be staged at national and regional levels.

    Furthermore, the interventions need to be introduced in a coordinated manner in order for them to be most effective. As part of this effort, IRENA, the League of Arab States and RCREEE have formed a three-way collaboration to create a process for regional coordination in renewable energy development. This study, which is the first outcome of the collaboration, proposes a roadmap of actions to support Arab countries’ implementation of the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy. This roadmap has been the subject of extensive consultations and reviews by national governments and regional organisations in order to ensure its consistency with a regional vision.

    The proposed roadmap will serve as a guideline for the Arab renewable energy market, to accelerate market development, support governments’ efforts towards fulfilling future renewable energy targets, and overcome potential gaps and barriers.

    The study recommends focusing regional cooperation activities in the next couple of years on several initiatives that can influence and expedite the countries’ readiness to prepare their NREAPs:

    • Create technical and financial assistance programmes to support Arab states in designing their respective NREAPs.

    • Develop and fund a comprehensive, holistic capacity-building project covering the entire lifecycle of the project including planning, resource assessment, feasibility studies and implementation.

    • Explore potentials and opportunities for untapped renewable energy options, including heating and cooling, water desalination, biomass, waste to energy, geothermal, small hydro and pumped storage options.

    • Launch the grid integration initiative (Clean Energy Initiative in the Arab Region) to integrate greater amounts of renewable electricity in the power systems.

    • Enhance renewable energy administrative and spatial planning governance.

    • Create a framework for improving financial cooperation in the Arab region to accelerate renewable energy deployment, and to mitigate investment risks for public and private sectors.

    • Conduct regional studies to assess the situation of local manufacturing and future integration plans.

    The success of this roadmap of actions will depend on the level of coordination among the various organisations active in renewable energy promotion in the region. A clear coordination and follow-up mechanism is needed to ensure that regional actions support this roadmap without duplication of effort.

    While the details of this mechanism need to be developed collectively by willing stakeholders, its general outlines are clear. IRENA, the League of Arab States and RCREEE are advised to convene a regional working group with representatives from all the major stakeholders (e.g., AMU, AUE, UNECA, UNESCWA, EIB, MEDGRID, MSP, Dii, and OME). The working group will be responsible for horizontal coordination among these various organisations in support of implementing the recommendations of this study.

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