Investing in MENA Green Hydrogen can Drive . . .

Investing in MENA Green Hydrogen can Drive . . .

 

Investing in MENA Green Hydrogen can Drive Global Steel Decarbonization

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Owing to its significant solar and wind potential, the Middle East and North African (MENA) region has the opportunity to lead the decarbonization of the global steel industry.

Emphasized in a recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, the regional steel industry – which currently represents one of the most competitive globally – has already taken significant strides to decarbonize through the application of direct reduced iron-electric arc furnace technology (DRI-EAF).

 

Now, with new opportunities emerging across the green hydrogen landscape and government objectives to accelerate the transition even further, the MENA region is set to lead the world in the adoption of green hydrogen within the steel industry.

“The MENA region can lead the world if it shifts promptly to renewables and applies green hydrogen in its steel sector. MENA has an established supply of DR-grade iron ore and its iron ore pelletizing plants are among the world’s largest. In 2021, MENA produced just 3% of global crude steel but accounted for nearly 46% of the world’s DRI production,” said Soroush Basirat, author of the Institute for Energy Economies and Financial Analysis report.

With the region offering the highest potential for photovoltaic power globally – with theoretical production estimated at more than 5.8 KWh per m² – converting existing gas-powered generating plants to green hydrogen would create a carbon-free steel industry in the region. Decarbonizing the steel industry aligns with the World Bank’s prediction that by 2050, more than 83GW of wind and 334GW of solar will be added to the regional energy mix, improving the provision of clean energy and making the conversion to green hydrogen-powered steel production that much simpler.

“MENA’s knowledge of this specific steel technology is an invaluable asset. This production knowledge, abetted by further work on iron ore beneficiation, pelletizing and DR plants, is among the most important steel decarbonization pillars, and will greatly assist MENA’s transition. Compared to other regions, MENA’s existing DRI-EAF capacity means that no extra investment is needed for replacing the base technology. All new investment could be focused on expanding production of green hydrogen among other renewables. If it acts fast, MENA has the potential to lead the world in green steel production,” Basirat said.

Reaping Benefits of Renewable Energy

Reaping Benefits of Renewable Energy

MENA Region Falls Short of Reaping Benefits of Renewable Energy

The image above shows solar panels used to generate renewable energy at the Sustainability Pavilion during a media tour at the Dubai Expo 2020. KARIM SAHIB ©AFP

Ali Noureddine

This article has been translated from Arabic.

The main economic challenge caused by the reliance on fossil fuels for energy production is the effect of changing oil derivative prices on the price of electricity production. This is precisely what transpired in 2021, when the average price of a barrel of oil increased by around 68% year over year and fuel consumption soared as economies resumed activity following widespread closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The Ukraine conflict’s consequences made the situation even worse this year. The average price of a barrel of oil increased by 50% over the previous year due to shortages in Russian energy supply, despite sustained high global demand for oil as the world struggled to recover from the pandemic’s impacts.

As a result, the price of power produced from fossil fuels rises proportionally to every rise in the value of crude oil, putting additional pressure on consumers as well as raising the cost of production in various economic sectors.

The drawbacks of solely relying on fossil fuels

Fluctuations in the cost of electricity production are not the sole difficulties resulting from a reliance on fossil fuels to generate power. The problems grow more severe for countries importing oil derivatives because the amount of hard currencies needed to import fuel increases in parallel to the rise in oil prices, linking these countries’ financial stability to the price of oil.

As a result, economic growth forecasts and the financial stability of oil-importing countries are often linked to expectations in oil prices. Furthermore, oil markets often witness harsh interactions between oil-producing countries, which have a vested interest in higher prices, and oil-importing countries, which push for measures to rein in oil prices.

These issues only underscore the significance of the fact that, according to figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency, the cost of producing electricity using even the cheapest fossil fuels is still four times higher than producing an equal amount of power through renewable energy. In fact, the same figures indicate that the energy generated using renewable energy over the past resulted in about $55 billion in savings.

Thus, with the cost of producing electricity using solar energy has decreased by 88 per cent between 2010 and 2021, the continued use of fossil fuels to generate power has become a far more expensive practice compared to renewable alternatives.

The importance of renewable energy in the Arab region

Today there are ample reasons to push societies toward producing electricity by using renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, but for the countries of the Arab region the need for this direction is more pressing. With the growth rates of populations in these countries surpassing global growth rates, they witness an inordinately high energy demand.

In addition, many oil-importing Arab countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Sudan and Egypt suffer from severe and long-term monetary crises, which are exacerbated with every rise in global prices of basic goods, including oil, as result of increasing pressure on their balance of payments with the rise in the cost of imports.

The Arab region has a wealth of potential for renewable energy, partly because it has the highest solar brightness, or sunlight exposure, across the globe. The Middle East and North Africa region enjoys the benefits of a solar ray with productivity that ranges between 4 and 8 kilowatt-hours per square meter, according to research by the United Nations Environment Program. It is also distinguished by a low occurrence of clouds, which enables it to use sunlight to produce power for most of the year.

The International Renewable Energy Agency’s statistics, which show that every square kilometer in the MENA region receives solar energy yearly equivalent to the output of 5.1 million barrels of oil, may be used to quantify the significance of this renewable energy.

Therefore, it is obvious that the Arab area can benefit significantly from renewable energy, not only by supplying its own population and economic sectors’ energy demands, but also by exporting power to other parts of the world.

It is important to note that certain Arab nations, like Egypt, already have electrical networks that link them to numerous European and African nations. This serves as a foundation for the infrastructure needed to build systems for power export.

Existing renewable energy projects in the Arab region

Even though their strategic location presents Arab countries with numerous advantages in terms of renewable energy, only four nations, namely Egypt, the United Arab EmiratesSaudi Arabia and Morocco, have embarked on ambitious projects in this area.

That is not to say that other Arab countries, do not have programs, small projects, and plans in the works for the production of renewable energy, but such projects are small in scope compared to the volume of their electricity needs. As a result, they continue to remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels for power generation.

Egypt is now significantly ahead of other nations in the area in its use of renewable energy as a power source. Mohamed El-Khayat, head of the Renewable Energy Authority, confirmed that his country had raised the contribution of renewable energy to Egypt’s total electricity production to 20 per cent, the highest proportion in the region compared to other Arab countries.

Egypt is also currently striving to raise this ratio to one-third by 2025 through new projects, which include producing 16 percent of Egyptian electricity from wind energy, 7 per cent from solar cells, and 10 percent from hydroelectric energy. The rest of the energy produced from traditional sources will depend on gas extracted from the Egyptian fields, ensuring the country’s energy self-sufficiency.

On the other hand, the UAE’s energy policy is centered on solar energy projects to achieve its objective of using renewable energy to ensure 50 per cent of the country’s power production by 2050 while depending on nuclear energy to secure an additional 25 per cent of overall electricity production. As a result, just 25 per cent of the UAE’s energy demands will be met by fossil fuels, reducing the country’s dependency on them.

As for Saudi Arabia, last year the kingdom saw the highest growth rate among Arab countries in the generation of electricity through renewable sources, increasing its production of renewable energy by 301 per cent over the previous year.

According to Saudi plans, the contribution of renewable energy to the total locally produced electricity is expected to rise to 30 per cent by 2030, alongside plans to develop electricity delivery networks that would later allow it to export the surplus to neighboring countries.

Morocco is the most ambitious among Arab countries in terms of power production. It had already successfully increased the proportion of electricity produced from renewable sources to 37 per cent in 2021 – wind energy (13.4 per cent), solar energy (7.03 percent) and hydroelectric (16.57 per cent) – and Morocco plans to increase that contribution to 52 per cent by 2030.

Much more is needed

The figures show that these four Arab countries are giving great importance to renewable energy, not only for the sake of economic stability but also to reduce the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.

However, the scope of these projects remains modest considering the opportunities available in the Arab region, given that it is mostly limited to only four countries and absent from the vast majority of other Arab nations in the region.

This is due to the fact that most Arab countries have limited available financial resources that can be invested in renewable energy. In addition, even the four countries leading the transition to renewable energy in the Arab region are suffering from delays in implementing some of the projects stipulated in the official plans. They will likely fail to meet their targets in a timely manner.

As things stand now, countries of the Arab region can best make use of their potential in renewable energy by looking into partnerships with the private sector, which can help attract foreign investments to the energy sector and contribute to generating clean energy at competitive rates.

These countries should also develop an intraregional electrical grid to enable those that have already started to invest in renewable energy to export their surplus energy to countries suffering from power shortages.

A viable option would be to establish joint investment funds that would enable countries with surplus capital to invest funds in clean energy projects in other countries, thus benefiting both parties simultaneously.

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Keep buildings cool as it gets hotter

Keep buildings cool as it gets hotter

In most of the MENA and the Gulf region, we reach for the A/C control when entering any living or working space. But as we casually flip a switch, we tend not to consider all those carbon emissions caused by machines.  

After years of indulgence and as witnessed by all of the end results, climate change is forcing all to go green by trying to keep buildings cool as it gets hotter. Greening the Global Construction Industry has already engaged in developing new techniques, tools, products and technologies – such as heat pumps, better windows, more vital insulation, energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy and more imaginative design – has enabled emissions to stabilize the past few years.

The above image is of I Love Qatar

 

Keep buildings cool as it gets hotter

Windcatchers in Iran use natural air flow to keep buildings cool. Andrzej Lisowski Travel/Shutterstock

 

Keep buildings cool as it gets hotter by resurrecting traditional architectural techniques – podcast

By Gemma Ware, The Conversation and Daniel Merino, The Conversation

The Conversation Weekly podcast is now back after a short break. Every Thursday, we explore the fascinating discoveries researchers are using to make sense of the world and the big questions they’re still trying to answer.

In this episode we find out how “modern” styles of architecture using concrete and glass have often usurped local building techniques better suited to parts of the world with hotter climates. Now some architects are resurrecting traditional techniques to help keep buildings cool.

From western Europe to China, North Africa and the US, severe heatwaves brought drought, fire and death to the summer of 2022. The heatwaves also raised serious questions about the ability of existing infrastructure to cope with extreme heat, which is projected to become more common due to climate change.

Yet, for thousands of years, people living in parts of the world used to high temperatures have deployed traditional passive cooling techniques in the way they designed their buildings. In Nigeria, for example, people have long used biomimicry to copy the style of local flora and fauna as they design their homes, according to Anthony Ogbuokiri, a senior lecturer in architectural design at Nottingham Trent University in the UK.

But in the 20th century, cities even in very hot climates began following an international template for building design that meant cities around the world, regardless of where they were, often had similar looking skylines. Ogbuokiri calls this “duplitecture”, and says it “ramped up the cooling load” due to an in-built reliance on air conditioners.

Alongside this, there was a massive boom in the use of concrete, particularly after the second world war when the Soviet Union and the US started gifting their cold war allies concrete technology. “It was a competition both to discover who actually mastered concrete and who was better at gathering the materials, the people and the energy to make concrete,” explains Vyta Pivo, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan in the US. But too much concrete can contribute to the phenomenon of urban heat islands, where heat is concentrated in cities. Concrete is also a considerable contributor to global carbon emissions.

Some architects and researchers are working to rehabilitate and improve traditional passive techniques that help keep buildings cool without using energy. Susan Abed Hassan, a professor of architectural engineering at Al-Nahrain University in Baghdad, Iraq, focuses a lot on windcatchers in her work, a type of chimney which funnels air through houses to keep them cooler in hot climates. She’s now looking at how to combining underground water pipes with windcatchers to enhance their cooling effects.

Listen to the full episode to find out about other techniques being used to keep buildings cool without relying on air conditioning.

This episode was produced by Mend Mariwany, with sound design by Eloise Stevens. The executive producer was Gemma Ware. Our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. You can find us on Twitter @TC_Audio, on Instagram at theconversationdotcom or via email. You can also sign up to The Conversation’s free daily email here. A transcript of this episode is available here.

You can listen to The Conversation Weekly via any of the apps listed above, download it directly via our RSS feed, or find out how else to listen here.The Conversation

Gemma Ware, Editor and Co-Host, The Conversation Weekly Podcast, The Conversation and Daniel Merino, Assistant Science Editor & Co-Host of The Conversation Weekly Podcast, The Conversation

Read the original article.

The Conversation

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

A child walks on the dried-up bed of Iraq’s receding southern marshes of Chibayish in Dhi Qar province on August 23, 2022. HUSSEIN FALEH ©AFP

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change: Oil-Rich versus Crisis-Riddled Countries

By Dana Hourany

 

The earliest known agricultural civilizations are thought to have started in present-day southern Iraq. Known as the “Fertile Crescent,” the area situated between the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers’, witnessed the birth of the earliest known sedentary civilizations on earth.

Mesopotamia, the earliest human settlement in the area, saw the development of agrarian societies, the domestication of animals, thriving agriculture, and the invention of irrigation methods owing to the Tigris and Euphrates’ abundant water supply.

In 2022, the UN Environment Program placed Iraq, which was long considered the “Cradle of Civilization,” as the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change.

The effects of climate change have long been most severe in IraqTemperatures have soared to more than 50 degrees Celsius, devastating water resources, food supplies, and agricultural livelihoods and needs.

Although Iraq is one of the MENA region’s most severely affected, environmental scientists and academics warn that if MENA governments continue to be inactive and unwilling to work together to create sustainable mitigation strategies, no country will be spared.

What went wrong?

In the past couple of years, Iraq’s annual rainfall has decreased exponentially causing more drought and structurally denting the agricultural sector.

While reasons vary, solutions are scarce. Upriver damming in Turkiye and Iran has restricted the water flow from the Tigris and Euphrates. Scorching temperatures affect soil moisture and salinization (increasing the amount of salt in the soil) have further degraded the land.

“The water that flows to the southern region is also extremely polluted. By the time it reaches us it is no longer the purified water that flows from the northern mountains of Turkiye. Ours is mixed with sewage, chemical pollutants and trash,” Basra-based researcher Mishtak Idan Obeid told Fanack.

The researcher added that the “diplomatic incompetency of politicians” has exacerbated the crisis since “Iraqi politicians have failed to negotiate with Turkiye and Iran, allowing them to take advantage of our water resources.”

Once a region of luscious greenery and a vibrant community of farmers, landowners and fishermen, it is now at great risk of desertification as farmers abandon their lands in hopes of landing better job opportunities elsewhere.

“This is their livelihood and main set of skills. If they move to urban areas they might not have access to job opportunities which can push them to unlawful activities, compounding local conflicts and putting pressure on an already fragile infrastructure,” environmental climate-security at The Hague’s Clingendael Institute, Maha Yassin told Fanack.

“The responsibility falls on the state to ensure these people are well taken care of to maintain civil security across the country,” she added.

More crisis for the crisis-riddled

Amidst this summer’s heatwave and crippling energy shortages, homes are plunging into darkness as power cuts become the norm in crisis-riddled Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Despite its abundant oil supply, the Iraqi electricity sector has seen years of neglect, deteriorating under the hands of corrupt leaders, according to analysts.

Similarly, cash-strapped Lebanon has been the subject of constant neglect and systemic corruption that crashed its economy and devastated its infrastructure. Unable to provide for itself, Lebanon relies on Iraqi oil imports to avert nationwide blackouts that now plague the country.

Syria’s power infrastructure as well has suffered heavy blows during the 11-year crisis causing frequent electricity cuts. Subsequently, many people in all three countries are turning to solar power to remedy the situation.

Syria’s state electric company has recently completed a 1-megawatt solar power station connected to the electricity grid, located between the central city of Homs and Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Only 50-250 houses will benefit from state solar energy.

Lebanese, on the other hand, are left to fend for themselves as many flock to private companies to purchase solar panels for their houses and businesses. As for the Iraqis, ambitions have been set to generate up to 12 GW of electricity from solar power by 2030, according to the Iraq oil report. However, political stalemate, disputes over payment terms and general political inefficiency have put the plans on hold.

“This is what sets Iraq apart from other oil-rich countries in the Gulf. Political instability and frequent protests push lawmakers to shelve important environmental projects,” Yassin said.

A huge impediment to decent living standards

While the peoples of crisis-affected MENA nations swelter the blazing summer heat, sandstorms add to their woes.

“Families have been going out less and less. People are forced to remain in their houses as if imprisoned and this is mentally taxing. You become easily irritable and unmotivated,” Obeid said.

Physical well-being is also at risk as Yassin puts it, “sandstorms compound pulmonary diseases such as bronchitis and asthma, while water pollution propagates cholera outbreaks and skin diseases.”

No country in the region is immune to climate change, but the effects are unequal and the solutions are unique.

“Climate change was never a top priority for MENA governments. The majority of environmental policies were developed as quick fixes. This has proven ineffective in an area that is prone to climate crises and has unequal mitigation capacities,” MENA Climate Change Expert Achref Chibani told Fanack.

In his 2022 research, “Sand and Dust Storms in the MENA Region: A Problem Awaiting Mitigation,” Chibani states that Gulf countries’ economic and technological advancements facilitate fielding faster and bigger projects to curb the climate’s impact, particularly sandstorms which he believes are only getting worse.

Saudi Arabia for instance is working on the “Saudi Green Initiative” and has invested several billion dollars in developing green belts, while the UAE has invested in new technologies that allow monitoring dust storms through a forecasting system to better prepare for any incoming threats.

Kuwait, on the other hand, reported dangerous air quality levels in some regions without discussing proper mitigation tactics.

Unlike Iraq, which suffers from similar breathing and temperature issues, most Kuwaitis enjoy day-long indoor cooling. Similar to Iraq though, Kuwaiti politicians delay finding solutions as inaction reigns over a comprehensive approach to tackle climate change.

North African countries at risk

According to Chibani’s observations, countries at most risk of climate crises are on the North African belt, while Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan sway behind. He says this is due to crops vanishing from North African fields, as well as threats of fiercer sandstorms, rising water stress, and soaring electric bills.

AlgeriaLibya, and Egypt are also dependent on the hydrocarbon industry and much of their revenue comes from exporting fossil fuels to Europe. Any negative diplomatic differences will therefore wreak havoc on economic security.

Tunisia, meanwhile suffers from limited natural freshwater resources, deforestation, soil erosion and rising sea levels. In addition to ravaging wildfires spread across North Africa and also Lebanon.

“Governments elevating the costs of electricity and water bills might make people more conscious of how much they’re wasting. However farmers need to switch to harvesting crops that consume less water for irrigation to further preserve our resources,” Chibani said.

Divided, we fall

Egypt will host the 27th UN climate Change Conference in November, which encompasses over 40 countries, in hopes of pushing a climate agenda suitable for the MENA’s challenges and needs.

However, Chibani notes that the region lacks environmental research that could contribute to future projects.

Until then, civil society and renewable energy seem to be the most productive remedies. Around 312 NGOs support the MENA’s environmental causes including bio-diversity, conservation, and protection. However, Yassin says that their existence is endangered by state corruption, scarcity of funds, and governmental pressures.

“Civil society groups run the risk of sounding like politicians when employing rhetoric that citizens perceive to be elitist and condescending. There needs to be more work done on climate change messaging for non-Western audiences,” Chibani noted.

Obeid points to the importance of civilian involvement in minute details such as conserving water and maintaining the cleanliness of public areas while keeping in mind that responsibility falls primarily on the governments that are not leading the way for people to follow.

“I estimate that in 30 years the MENA will have less water and more sand threatening its environment. Countries must cooperate, otherwise the whole region is in danger, particularly its poorer communities. Well-off countries need to help the economically vulnerable states to salvage what’s left of the region’s environmental richness,” Chibani said.

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Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

An international team of scientists warned that Climate change could devastate the Mideast and the East Mediterranean. Let us see what it’s all about.

The above picture is of EUROACTIV

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

A man carries a fishing rod during sunset along the shoreline in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, 230 km (140 miles) north of Cairo, July 12, 2011. Alexandria, with 4 million people, is Egypt’s second-largest city and also one of the Middle East’s cities most at risk from rising sea levels due to global warming. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean – scientists

NICOSIA, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Climate change could have a devastating effect on the lives of millions in the East Mediterranean and Middle East, where temperatures are rising nearly twice as fast as the global average, an international team of scientists warned.

The region could see an overall warming of up to 5 degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century on a business-as-usual scenario, a report prepared by the Cyprus Institute said.

That temperature spike was almost twice that anticipated in other areas of the planet, and faster than any other inhabited parts of the world, it said.

The report, prepared under the auspices of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Climate and Atmosphere Research Center of The Cyprus Institute, will be submitted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) taking place in Egypt in November.

A combination of reduced rainfall and weather warming will contribute to severe droughts, compromising water and food security, with many countries unprepared for rising sea levels, one expert said.

“This (scenario) would imply severe challenges for coastal infrastructure and agriculture, and can lead to the salinization of costal aquifers, including the densely populated and cultivated Nile Delta,” said Dr. George Zittis of the Cyprus Institute, an author of the report.

Meeting the main targets of the Paris Agreement, a global pact of countries to cut emissions, could stabilize the annual temperature increase to about 2 degrees Celsius.

Scientists recommend rapid implementation of decarbonization actions with a particular emphasis on the energy and transportation sectors.

“Since many of the regional outcomes of climate change are transboundary, stronger collaboration among the countries is indispensable to cope with the expected adverse impacts,” said Jos Lelieveld, director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, institute professor at the Cyprus Institute, and coordinator of the assessment.

Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Bernadette Baum
Read original Reuters
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