Friday, June 26, 2015

globe's most egregious gluttons attempt transition


theatlantic | Saudi Arabia produces much of its electricity by burning oil, a practice that most countries abandoned long ago, reasoning that they could use coal and natural gas instead and save oil for transportation, an application for which there is no mainstream alternative. Most of Saudi Arabia’s power plants are colossally inefficient, as are its air conditioners, which consumed 70 percent of the kingdom’s electricity in 2013. Although the kingdom has just 30 million people, it is the world’s sixth-largest consumer of oil.

Now, Saudi rulers say, things must change. Their motivation isn’t concern about global warming; the last thing they want is an end to the fossil-fuel era. Quite the contrary: they see investing in solar energy as a way to remain a global oil power.

The Saudis burn about a quarter of the oil they produce—and their domestic consumption has been rising at an alarming 7 percent a year, nearly three times the rate of population growth. According to a widely read December 2011 report by Chatham House, a British think tank, if this trend continues, domestic consumption could eat into Saudi oil exports by 2021 and render the kingdom a net oil importer by 2038.

That outcome would be cataclysmic for Saudi Arabia. The kingdom’s political stability has long rested on the “ruling bargain,” whereby the royal family provides citizens, who pay no personal income taxes, with extensive social services funded by oil exports. Left unchecked, domestic consumption could also limit the nation’s ability to moderate global oil prices through its swing reserve—the extra petroleum it can pump to meet spikes in global demand. If Saudi rulers want to maintain control at home and preserve their power on the world stage, they must find a way to use less oil.

Solar, they have decided, is an obvious alternative. In addition to having some of the world’s richest oil fields, Saudi Arabia also has some of the world’s most intense sunlight. (On a map showing levels of solar radiation, with the sunniest areas colored deep red, the kingdom is as blood-red as a raw steak.) Saudi Arabia also has vast expanses of open desert seemingly tailor-made for solar-panel arrays.

Solar-energy prices have fallen by about 80 percent in the past few years, due to a rapid increase in the number of Chinese factories cranking out inexpensive solar panels, more-efficient solar technology, and mounting interest by large investors in bankrolling solar projects. Three years ago, Saudi Arabia announced a goal of building, by 2032, 41 gigawatts of solar capacity, slightly more than the world leader, Germany, has today. According to one estimate, that would be enough to meet about 20 percent of the kingdom’s projected electricity needs—an aggressive target, given that solar today supplies virtually none of Saudi Arabia’s energy and, as of 2012, less than 1 percent of the world’s.

8 comments:

Vic78 said...

Could it be that Obama wants Iran to strengthen itself? It'll easily be the strongest in the region shortly after the deal goes down.

CNu said...

Absolutely! Iran is the natural hegemon in the ME. Long overdue time for things to resume their sustainable natural order.

BigDonOne said...

Un-intended consequences item: Be interesting to watch the fireworks when the solar people conclude the only cost-effective way to keep the panels cleaned from bird poop is to just kill all the birds....

Dale Asberry said...

You're such a knucklehead. The issue with most panels is dust. Bird poop issues are negligent as is your intelligence.

BigDonOne said...

Not so fast there, Dale. BD would withhold judgement on a thing like that until all the facts are in. A lot of the Saudi population is concentrated near the salt water, e.g., (Red Sea - Mecca, Jeddah). They do have birds over there---> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_birds_of_Saudi_Arabia Sagull poop fotos below....

Dale Asberry said...

SMDH... Dawn, rather than conjecture some wild-assed scenario and google pictures to back it up, why don't you do some REAL research and discover where the Saudis are actually putting these solar arrays (like what type of equipment used) and what the primary issue in (specific) said locations will be. You are such a twit.

Dale Asberry said...

Hint: rooftop solar panels are NOT as efficient as you can get...

CNu said...

psssst...., that's "tard". slumming at infowars, wnd, amren, and sbpdl fills your head with mush and a bunch of nasty pejoratives.