The conventional sources of energy such as oil, natural gas, and coal have proven to be effective drivers of the economy globally. However, most of these sources of energy are not environmentally friendly and thus posing a danger to the ecosystem and human health. Furthermore, these sources of energy cannot be relied on overtime since they are not renewable. Renewable energy sources have enormous potential to meet the increasing world’s energy demand. These renewable energy sources, such as biomass, solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower can provide sustainable energy services. Currently, renewable energy provides about 20% of the total energy demand globally.
Energy Efficiency and Policies in the Middle East Countries. Countries in the Middle East such as Israel have a greater potential for renewable energy than the other countries globally. However, these renewable energy sources have a minimum contribution to the state’s energy mix. Renewable energy has a great advantage especially to the environment and economy. It has long-term advantages over the non-renewable energy sources. Countries in the Middle East should highly appreciate the benefits of the renewable energy. Embracing the renewable energy would demand the implementation of suitable policies at the national level. Some non-renewable energy sources could be used in the transition process towards renewable energy sources. In order to address economic and environmental benefits, natural gas would be the best non-renewable energy source to be used during the transition process. The alteration process towards renewable sources demands the involvement of the government in order to evade market deformations that favor fossil fuels.
Funding fossil fuels in the countries stands as a major obstacle to renewable energy sources (Berinstein, 2001). The subsidies of fossil energy should be cleared out in order to allow the supply of renewable sources. Middle East counties have developed several methods of promoting renewable energy. They are developed in different designs based on the distinctive needs of each country in Middle East. The great potential of renewable energy in the Middle East countries remains unexploited since its contribution to the energy mix is approximately one percent. These countries hold a large amount of fossil fuels in storage. The Middle East countries like Israel should also react to the essential international energy and environmental problems like the other countries. The current increases in global energy demand and climate change due to the use of non-renewable sources are the major challenges that the world is experiencing. According to the International energy agency, the rate of increment for global energy demand in the Middle East countries is higher than in other countries. The agency forecasts that the energy demand in the Middle East countries is expected to rise by 70% by 2035 (Smith & Taylor, 2008). The emissions of greenhouse gas and the increased consumption of fossil fuels in Israel and other Middle East countries have highly contributed to the climate change. Consequently, the climate change portrays negative effects globally. It affects the infrastructure, labor productivity, and resources which have an economic value to the globe. In an instance, climate change causes abnormal temperature raises, excess rainfall that cause flooding and droughts. These negative effects affect agricultural productivity in the countries. The negative impacts on the economy are felt socially by affecting health and poverty reduction efforts.
Climate changes have great effects on the poor people in Israel and other countries. In the Middle East countries, measures taken to adjust climate changes are extremely costly. These countries should appreciate the sustainable energy sources in order to reduce climate change effects. Still, sustainable energy sources offer long-term environmental and economic benefits to the countries. The major concern in these countries should be the transition process towards sustainable energy. The renewable energy sources can be addressed from political and economic perspectives in order to promote the transition process. Sustainable energy sources are used marginally in the Middle East countries despite their economic and environmental benefits. Moreover, the renewable energy sources elevate energy supply security, electrification of the rural areas, and develop employment opportunities. Statistically, two-third of the countries in the Middle East countries employ one percent share of the sustainable energy in the energy mix, while a third of the countries do not use the renewable sources. Few countries such as Israel and Egypt use more than one percent of the renewable energy sources (Perera & Economist Intelligence Unit, 2010). Over the year, the trend of sustainable energy use is decreasing. Globally, the Middle East countries use less amount of sustainable energy source than other countries. The global average share of sustainable energy used in the energy mix during the recent years was approximately 12 percent, which is higher than the average share of the Middle East countries (Boyle, G. & Open University, 2004). Clearly, the Middle East countries have failed to respond to the increasing high energy demand with the sustainable sources. During the period of 1999-2008, the Middle East had an elevated energy demand which increased the consumption rate. The use of sustainable energy increased in Middle East and other countries.
Currently, Israel and other Middle East countries have a great possibility of increasing the use of renewable sources. It is well-suited for the use of sustainable energy because it has an approximate of 45 percent of potential for renewable energy. In comparison with other sustainable energy sources, solar energy has a great potential in the Middle East countries. This region has an enormous share of solar energy that would also provide other global countries with electricity. The potential of electricity supply through the solar energy is significant in this region. The countries experience numerous hours of sun and have vast land that make it suitable for the construction of solar panels. Solar panels supply a great deal of solar energy in the Middle East countries. Solar energy exists in two modes, which are the photo voltaic and concentrated solar power. These two forms of solar energy provide the rural and urban areas with electricity. Concentrated solar power is commonly used for large-scale energy supply at a national level. The photo voltaic is used in the remote areas that do not require a large amount of energy (Perera & Economist Intelligence Unit, 2010). The Middle East countries use other sustainable energy sources that include geothermal power, wind, hydro, and biomass. In comparison to the solar energy, these sources do not hold massive potential. The combination of all these sustainable sources provides a massive annual economic supply potential. The economic electricity supply potential is expected to become very competitive compared to other sustainable energy sources.
Renewable energy sources are accompanied by several advantages. They satisfy the needs of consumers in the region. In an instance, it is clear that the solar energy in the Middle East countries provides the urban and the rural areas with a certain share of energy. Renewable source hold long-term environmental advantages. These sources d not emit gases that affect the climate change. Negative effects destroy the climate change, which imposes detrimental effects to the environment. Still, renewable sources have long-term economic benefits. The Middle East countries benefit financially through export earnings (Perera & Economist Intelligence Unit, 2010). They export the sustainable energy sources and the fossil fuels. The sustainable energy sources also increase energy security in these countries. The energy sources are adequate enough to address the high demand in these countries. Renewable sources have created adequate employment opportunities in the Middle East countries. They also promote the electrification of the rural areas. The renewable sources are highly economically viable. As mentioned earlier, they have long-term economic effects. The non-renewable sources are perceived as cheaper than the sustainable sources. Most of the costs incurred with the use of non-renewable sources are not mirrored by the consumer price. The non-renewable sources contribute to environmental costs due to the energy consumption. These resources contribute to negative climate changes, which incur high costs both economically and socially in the Middle East countries. These countries spend huge amounts of money through the adaptation measures to climate changes. Clearly, these costs are not reflected in the consumer prices. These costs are significantly felt through the effect of climate change and the great costs of adaptation measures.
According to a macroeconomic view, the sustainable energy sources have a higher cost advantage than the non-renewable sources. Commonly, the environmental costs are usually overlooked. The cost benefits of renewable sources are highly regarded because they create a great potential of technological development and the presence of economies’ scale. Technology and economies of scale help in the reduction of costs in these countries. The abundant supplies of renewable energy sources in the Middle East countries contribute high annual income through exportation. It is evident considering the massive amount of solar energy that is supplied in the country and other countries continually for a long period. European countries purchase solar energy from the Middle East countries. The Middle East countries export large amounts of energy thus have developed projects such as Medgrid and Desertec to cater for the energy sources exportation (Films Media Group, 2007). These countries strive to ensure that the renewable energy sources are enough to satisfy the needs of the people in the region and also for exportation. The massive solar energy addresses the high demand of electricity in Europe. The sustainable energy sources in these countries facilitate the exportation of fossil fuels in massive quantities. Exportation of the fossil fuel enables the Middle East countries to reduce the usage of non-renewable sources. The Middle East countries export non-renewable sources to many countries that use fossil fuel for domestic purposes in order to reduce the demand of fossil fuels in their regions. The fossil fuel that is also used for the primary energy mix is also exported to elevate the income level. The Gulf States are fascinated by the mentioned advantages of the renewable resources especially the exportation of the fossil fuels.
Sustainable energy sources are significantly reliable. They are well accessible and affordable thus providing energy security (Berinstein, 2001). Renewable sources aid in the reduction of inconsistency of energy production costs. The price of the non-renewable sources is highly affected by the external aspect. Unlike renewable sources, the price of non-renewable energy sources easily fluctuates (112). Renewable energy reduces the rate of import dependency among the Middle East countries. Through renewable energy supply, the countries are capable of customizing their chain of energy supply. Depending on their chain of energy supply reduces factors that would jeopardize the supply of energy. On the other hand, renewable energy sources reduce the geopolitical risks of supply that are connected to energy-supply security. Middle East countries that have scarce energy supplies could also depend on the renewable sources. The fossil fuel sector offers limited chances of employment in the Middle East countries. In some of these countries, the fossil fuel sector manages to employ approximately one percent of the population. The renewable source sector employs a higher number of people. This is because the potential of renewable sector in creating jobs is significant. The renewable sector crate employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled personnel. The range of employment begins from the research and development section to the manufacturing and assembly. Mostly, the solar energy section creates many job opportunities for the people in these countries. Most of these people are employed in the construction and maintenance sector.
In the Middle East countries, access to energy is a serious issue in the rural areas. Renewable source would help in eradicating poverty in these areas through the introduction of electricity. The renewable sources are significant in areas that are located away from the large grids. In remote area, renewable technologies such as biomass-based system, micro-hydro-powered mini-grid, and solar pumps would provide energy power. Electrification in the rural area improves the lives of the people through advancing their health conditions. Availability of electricity enables people in the rural areas boil drinking water. Electricity promotes the economic transactions thus promoting development in the region. Renewable energy sources bring a lot of benefits. However, the rate of consumption in the Middle East countries is very low. In these countries, there should be appropriate polices that govern the usage of the renewable sources. The government is usually the catalyst in developing renewable source in a country. The governments in these countries should formulate the policies that facilitate the use of renewable sources. There is a policy proposal that supports the introduction of renewable sources. It considers the transition process towards the sustainable sources and the instruments required for the exploitation of the sources. The policy is expected to address the issues that are pertinent to the entire region. The natural gas is preferable than the nuclear energy during the transition process. Clearly, the transition process towards the renewable sources will take a long period. Based on the current minimum consumption of renewable sources in the primary energy mix, the transition towards the renewable sources is expected to take several decades. During this period, the Middle East countries use the non-renewable sources to accompany the transition process. As earlier stated, natural gas is mostly preferred because of its low rate of carbon emissions. The non-renewable sources were initially scrutinized in order to evaluate their rate of emitting carbon gas. Oil and coal are not well-suited to accompany the transition process because they emit a high rate of carbon gas. Certain policies are set up to facilitate the employment of natural gas as the bridge technology.
Natural gas and nuclear energy sources are compared in order to identify the one best suited to accompany the transition process. The amount of carbon in the nuclear energy is higher than that of the natural gas. Approximately, nuclear energy produces 5 grams of carbon emissions, while natural gas produces 3 grams of carbon emissions (Films Media Group, 2007). During the heat production process especially in the cold parts of the Middle East countries, carbon emissions are not evident. The nuclear energy plants are rarely used for both heat and electricity production. Heat production is facilitated through nuclear energy together with other form of fossil fuels. The nuclear energy is added other fossil fuels in order to generate electricity and thermal power. This combination causes high level of carbon emissions. The combination of natural gas and other fossil fuels produces limited level of carbon emissions. Natural gas is regarded as more economical than the nuclear energy. The operating costs of the nuclear plants are lower than those of natural gas plants. The nuclear energy does not experience the impact of price instability because their fuel only takes up 20 percent of the operating cost (Systems Consultants Inc., 2008). The natural gas plant’s fuel consumes 70 percent of the operating costs. However, the Middle East countries consider the natural gas plants as economically viable because their construction costs are lower than the nuclear energy plants. The construction prices of the power plants are significant to these countries. Initially, the power plants have to be constructed in order to address the increased demand for energy in the country. The construction cost of nuclear plants in the Middle East is expected to elevate in the future. In order to cover the construction cost of the nuclear plants, these countries would need to increase the energy costs for cost-effectiveness. In comparison with natural gas plants, the nuclear energy plants are not suitable to accompany the introduction of sustainable energies to the network. The renewable sources such as solar and winds rely on the weather to provide energy. Clearly, the energy production varies accordingly.
A chain of energy supply that depends on the sun and wind requires other sources of energy in case the weather is not reliable. Renewable sources such as the non-volatile biomass would easily provide power in such an instance. Economically, natural gas plants are more preferable for the supply of power when the weather is not suitable. Nuclear energy plants would demand the construction of new plants, which is extremely expensive. The enormous financial need of the nuclear plant construction is a significant obstacle to the flexibility that is needed for the introduction of renewable sources (Smith & Taylor, 2008). Moreover, the nuclear plants hold higher financial risks than the natural gas plants. Various accidents that have occurred in the nuclear plants illustrate a high capital investment that can be written off in a short period. The economic risk experienced by the nuclear plants is hardly experienced in other power generating plants. The government is expected to take up the financial risk of investment of nuclear plants because private investors evade the risk of these plants. The nuclear energy plants in the Middle countries are not capable of satisfying the energy needs of the entire region. These countries are experiencing a high demand of energy consumption. Based on the rate of nuclear plant construction, the region can not entirely rely on the nuclear plants for energy supply. The countries take a prolonged period to construct the nuclear plants. Therefore, it is not realistic for the nuclear plants to address the increasing demand for energy.
Still, natural gas sector has helped upgrade the lives of people in the Middle East countries. The sector has created job opportunities and people get trained to become workers and engineers (Films Media Group, 2007). Construction of nuclear energy plants would take a long time to be established in the Middle East countries. The construction of nuclear plants would involve specialists from other countries thus inhibiting chances of employment for the citizens. People in this region would not have the chance of addressing the problem of unemployment. In the global nuclear industry, there are limited experts. This slows down the construction and development of nuclear plants and projects. The natural gas plant can be easily decentralized, unlike the nuclear plants. A smaller decentralized local supply plant can reduce the distance of electricity transmission. In a close range, it would serve the consumer maximally. Reduction of transmission distance relieves the pressure on the electricity network. In the natural gas plants, the impact of accidents is minimum compared to nuclear energy. Nuclear pants accidents cause numerous deaths, unlike in the natural gas plants. During nuclear explosions, there are enormous damages caused on the environment, people, and economy. Based on the evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of natural gas and nuclear plants, natural gas plant is well-suited as the bridge technology for the transition process towards the renewable sources.
The Middle East countries should significantly rely on the natural gas plants for the supply of electricity. The transition process towards the renewable source is gradual, but it should be completed for long-term benefits. The use of natural gas plants as a bridge technology to accompany the transition process towards renewable sources is very effective. In the Middle East countries, natural gas is commonly used for domestic purposes. Over the years, the demand for natural gas energy has continually grown. These countries also use the natural gas for the primary energy mix (Systems Consultants Inc., 2008). Still, the share of the natural gas in the energy mix has also increased in the Middle East countries. Unlike the other fossil fuel, natural gas addresses the growing demand of energy in an economically and environmentally striking method. Natural gas reduces the dependence on oil in the oil-rich countries. The subsidies of natural gas are promoting the overexploitation of natural gas. The development of renewable source highly requires the involvement of the government. In the Middle East countries, the governments should facilitate the introduction of sustainable sources. Based on the long-term advantages of renewable sources, several governments have taken the initiative of adopting measures to promote the transition process. The current renewable energy markets were developed through political measures.
Globally, the subsidies of the sustainable sources are expected to elevate significantly. There are various ways of promoting the sustainable energy sources. It would be effective to introduce energy pricing plan. The pricing plan should illustrate the environmental cost of fossil fuels and nuclear energy production. The scheme would elevate the cost competitiveness of the sustainable energy. The funding of the sustainable energy sources highly promotes the introduction of the renewable sources. The subsidies strive at reducing consumer costs of sustainable sources in order to promote their economic competitiveness. In the Middle East countries, there are various instruments by which sustainable sources can be subsidized. Globally, there are different modes of financial aids that promote the introduction of renewable sources. The Middle East countries are distinctive in energy resources, current market conditions, drivers, energy policy development, and technologies. Each country is obliged to determine the type of instruments to employ depending on its circumstances. The Middle East countries could use the price-based subsidization as an instrument to promote the introduction of renewable sources. It allows access to the electricity networks for the sustainable sources and guarantees a long-term energy demand at a cost which reflects the price of production and the specified income of the producer.
The network operators are obliged to purchase electricity energy at a particular cost from the producers of the sustainable sources. The quantity based subsidization requires the electricity producers to supply a particular amount of electricity with energy derived from the sustainable sources. This instrument of subsidization guarantees that a specific share of the energy mix is given to the sustainable sources. The creation of tax incentives in the countries also promotes the introduction of sustainable source. The governments should reduce the rate of taxes in order to sponsor the renewable sources. This could help the energy consumers in dropping the cost of energy consumption making them choose the sustainable sources. The Middle East countries could promote the introduction of renewable sources through focusing on the national level. The nation should implement energy strategies that would promote the renewable sources.
The implementation of the energy strategies should be monitored by the national authorities. The main objective of implementing energy strategies at a national level is to ensure that the policies are balanced for the producers and consumers. These policies should enable the producers and consumers to appreciate the renewable energy sources. The sustainable sources consumption policies should not clash with other energy policies. The sustainable sources highly rely on the stability and certainty of a particular instrument. It is significant to incorporate a sustainable energy source into the national energy policy. In order to ensure a rational policy design, the national authorities should monitor the energy affairs effectively. It is important for the Middle East countries to involve the national authorities in the design and implementation of policies. Most of the Middle East countries have adopted certain renewable energy goals. In an instance, Israel has set to meet seven percent of its energy mix with the sustainable sources. The countries also benefit from the support of partners in other countries for the introduction of sustainable sources.