What the Middle Eastern renewables industry can learn from the UK
Author: Lima Curtis
Published: Friday, 02 August 2013
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THE RENEWABLES industry is no longer the uncertain prospect it once was for the Middle East.
Oil and gas prices are rising, reserves are running dry and there is serious concern about worldwide fuel security, leaving renewables a serious option.
Currently the Middle East accounts for less than half a percent of the global solar market, a figure shockingly low for such an abundance of sun, and while its solar PV industry looks set to develop rapidly, it could do well not to copy the UK’s mistakes.
A spokesperson from www.theecoexperts.co.uk said: “The Middle East is clearly a huge market for solar PV. With about 350 days of sun a year, it makes sense for all countries or emirates to utilise it as much as possible.
“In previous years the huge reserves of oil meant it could be used domestically for little to no cost, but as prices rise and reserves run low, it will make more sense to save oil for exports and run the country on solar.
“However, the Middle East could look to the UK, who initially embraced solar PV before cooling towards it, on how not to support an industry which has the potential to thrive.”
Back in 2011, the UK offered high incentives to residents and business to install solar PV in the form of feed-in-tariffs, which were tax-free earnings on the electricity they produced from their renewable energy systems.
However, as the years progressed, the government reduced the tariffs and spent little money promoting the renewables as a whole, despite claiming to be the greenest government yet.
This resulted in a boom and bust situation, with many consumers confused about the financial, let alone environmental, benefits of solar PV.
The Middle East should make sure it spends time stabilising a strong and lengthy policy and advertising campaign, to ensure consumers and those in the solar PV industry do not miss out.
This will also help with its youth unemployment issue. Currently figures from ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 report show youth unemployment in the Middle East is one of the highest in the world.
Investing in solar energy could provide thousands of construction and engineering jobs across the area, again a benefit the UK could have really benefited from, but didn’t.
Solar PV prices are rapidly dropping and if secured feed-in-tariffs were put in place, rural and poorer areas could benefit from community projects, as they do in the UK.
The www.theecoexperts.co.uk spokesperson continued: “There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Middle East at the moment, as its huge expanse and climate means it could generate energy for millions of people.”