The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have increased their focus on actions to address climate change concerns but there is an urgent need to further accelerate decarbonisation efforts. With approximately 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion attributable to electricity and heat production, decarbonising the power sector must be prioritised to build a more sustainable future.
In the GCC, this goal can be achieved most effectively by leveraging the region’s tremendous renewables potential together with its abundant natural gas reserves, while transitioning away from higher carbon intensity liquid fuels such as oil and diesel, highlights a newly published white paper by GE, Pathways to Faster Decarbonisation in the GCC’s Power Sector.
Joseph Anis, President and CEO, GE Gas Power Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “The challenge we face today is not quite as straightforward as simply providing lower carbon power. We need to solve for the energy trilemma of supplying more reliable, affordable and sustainable power, in the context of increasing demand for electricity. There is no one-size-fits-all answer and we recognise that multiple solutions – including solar, wind, hydro, gas, nuclear, battery storage, hybrids and more – will contribute to the region’s long-term energy mix. However, the accelerated and strategic deployment of renewables and gas power in the GCC can enable substantive reductions in emissions rapidly now, while advancing technologies for low or near-zero carbon power generation in the future.”
The white paper cites that the region realised up to a 69% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in installed renewables capacity between 2015 and 2020, starting from a very low value and reaching a total of 2.4 gigawatts (GW) at the end of this period. This was driven by fundamentally sound factors such as falling costs – especially of solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions; the suitability of renewable solutions for utility-scale projects; and technological advancements that enabled the deployment of renewables in the GCC’s hot and harsh environment. However, the rapid penetration of variable renewable energy can also present challenges such as grid instability.
The white paper details how gas power, which is becoming increasingly efficient, accessible and affordable, can complement variable renewables with firm, on-demand electricity that can be ramped up or down quickly. With up to a third of the GCC’s power produced by liquid fuels such as crude oil, heavy fuel oil (HFO), diesel and others, switching away from them to natural gas also offers significant reductions in emissions, without compromising the reliability of electricity supplies, as gas produces the lowest emissions among traditional fossil fuels. Natural gas combined cycle power plants can reach a carbon emission intensity of 307-395 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour (gCO2/kWh), compared to 547-935 gCO2/kWh for liquid fuel power plants.
GE is driving further discussion on the energy transition in the region by sponsoring a virtual forum titled Energy Pathways: Towards a Low-Carbon Future in the GCC. The webinar, which is free to register for all, will be broadcast during 10.30 am – 11.45 am GST on November 3rd, 2021. The discussion will map out pathways to a low-carbon energy future in the GCC and features insightful conversations with leading actors in the power sector.
GE has supported the development of the GCC’s energy sector for over 80 years. Today, GE-built power generation technologies are installed in up to 350 sites across the region, generating up to half of the GCC’s power. With investments in local talent and facilities, global expertise and a suite of industry-leading, complementary technologies including gas-fired power, onshore and offshore wind, hydro, nuclear, battery storage, hybrids, grid solutions and digital applications, the company is committed to accelerating the region’s transition towards a more resilient and decarbonised energy future.Click below to share this article