The Kingdom of Bahrain and the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”) enjoy some of the highest solar radiation levels in the world and, despite moderate wind speeds, wind is another possible source of renewable energy. Bahrain is looking to renewable energy to increase the production of electricity and reduce pollution emitted from power plants operating with natural gas and diesel fuel and, to this end, recently announced plans to expand the country’s power generation capacity by using a mix of solar and wind energy.
Bahrain produces 3100 MW of electricity and 140 million gallons per delay of desalinated water using fossil fuel as the main energy source. However, an estimated population growth rate of 10 per cent per annum means the amount of natural gas required to meet Bahrain’s energy needs will double in 10 years.
Bahrain’s Energy Profile
The Kingdom of Bahrain has over 3GW of electricity generating capacity, and produces more than 12 billion kWh of annual electricity, almost all of which is derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. An estimated annual energy demand growth rate of 10% means the amount of natural gas required to meet Bahrain’s energy needs will double in 10 years. With a challenging 5% average annual growth rate of gas consumption, Bahrain will need to start importing natural gas supplies to meet future power needs. Clearly, such rapidly‐growing energy needs and over‐reliance on oil and gas are not sustainable.
Bahrain, like neighboring GCC states, enjoys some of the highest solar radiation levels in the world, making solar a very appealing form of renewable energy. In fact, a Gulf Research Centre report estimates that the Kingdom has the potential to generate 33 terawatt hours (TWh) per year from solar power.
Under these circumstances, Bahrain’s drive to promote clean renewable energy solutions for sustainable development and environmental protection is highly commendable.
Here are some interesting and important energy‐related facts about Bahrain:
- Bahrain was the first Gulf state to discover oil in 1935, but is also expected to be the first country in the Middle East to run out of oil in 10‐15 years!
- The total installed electricity capacity in 2012 was 3.0 GW, all coming from natural gas.
- In 2012, Bahrain generated 11.6 billion kWh of electricity and consumed 11 billion kWh. The total primary energy supply in 2012 was 9800 thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe), with 83.5% generated from natural gas and 16.5% from oil.
- Its gas reserves should last about 50 years at present rates of consumption with the risk that it is only enough to meet current demand up to year 2017!
- Bahrain’s per capita energy consumption, which is among the highest in the world, has nearly doubled during the last decade and with an annual increase of 10%, it is expected to reach 4,803 MW in 2020.
- Future domestic energy demand is on the rise spurred by a recent economic development boom, making it a challenge to fulfill future needs in a way that reduces Bahrain’s reliance on an ever diminishing commodity.
Bahrain’s Vision for Renewable Energy
It is clear that Bahrain’s reliance on oil and gas is not sustainable in the long run. As electricity prices generated from oil and gas continue to be subsidized, the government is recognizing the urgent need to reduce domestic energy consumption for continued energy security.
Today, solar is an integral part of any energy diversification plan to reduce reliance on external sources for power generation and decrease the nation’s dependency on natural gas and oil resources. It is imperative for a strong energy portfolio to include a clear focus on increased energy efficiency, conservation, and greater reliance on renewable sources over traditional carbon‐based energy sources.
Bahrain Energy Vision calls for achieving 5% of its installed capacity to be generated from renewables by 2020. Given that the country receives strong solar irradiance, its reliance on solar energy is a good strategy. It will be the first in the region to implement 5MW of distributed smart solar energy which is clean and efficient because of the use of smart grid technology. This coupled with the fact that there is limited land available for solar power plants; the flexible and highly optimized micro-inverter technology design approach will help meet Bahrain’s renewable energy needs without the need for large areas of land.
Bahrain is committed to producing 5% of its electricity from renewable sources, i.e. 300 MW out of a total 6,000 MW, the country will have to produce 1,500,000 solar panels of 200W each from 2015 to 2030 (15 years).This means that Bahrain must produce 100,000 PV panels annually, or about 274 panels daily.
Owned and operated by BAPCO, the project has been established on a 10,000 m2site offered by the University of Bahrain (UoB), resulting in the largest worldwide, within a university campus. The preliminary outcome of this installation is very promising (normalized annual power production of 1.66 MWh/MW ) with an average solar electricity energy yield of nearly 2,100 kWh in June 2014
In recent years, almost all GCC countries have faced challenges brought on by climate change, and have therefore been obliged to devise future plans that include projects to address these challenges. Among the GCC countries, Bahrain is perhaps the most vulnerable to the threat of rising sea levels because of its location in a low‐lying coastal zone, where most of its population and industries reside. According to Bahrain’s Second National Communication, which was conducted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment, and Wildlife in January 2012, the current built‐up and industrial areas in Bahrain account for 245 km2 of a total land area of 748 km2 (about 34%), and are located largely along the eastern coastline of Bahrain’s main island. The study shows that 11% (83 km2) of total Bahraini land will be inundated by 2050 if the sea level rises by 0.3 m., and 27% (200 km2) by 2100 if the sea level rises by 1.5 m.
Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 calls for a ‘shift from an economy built on oil wealth to a productive, globally competitive economy, shaped by the government and driven by a pioneering private sector’. Much emphasis is on attracting foreign direct investment to create jobs. By 2030, the strategy envisions financial services as the main pillar of the economy together with oil and gas, complemented by tourism, business services, manufacturing and logistics.
Bahrain government pushes for solar energy
A proposal to establish a National Renewable Energy Regulatory Authority has been presented to Bahrain’s Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission, revealed Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza in an exclusive interview
The government has planned for energy expenditure of BD849 million in the national budget for this year and next year.
EWA’s objective is to provide electricity and water resources to all sectors of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
NOGA is the organization responsible for all petroleum and gas related issues in Bahrain, with a mission of the authority is to maintain and develop the kingdom’s oil and gas resources while optimizing their utilization in pursuit of generating the highest return there from. NOGA’s tasks include determination of the appropriate pricing of products; overseeing the companies and corporations operating in the oil & gas industry as well as developing the associated industries and conducting studies & researches on the Kingdom of Bahrain’s oil & gas resources.
BAPCO, wholly owned by the Government of Bahrain, is engaged in the oil industry including exploration and prospecting for oil, drilling, production, refining, distribution of petroleum products and natural gas, sales and exports of crude oil and refined products.
The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is a dynamic public agency with overall responsibility for attracting inward investment into Bahrain and supporting initiatives that help enhance the investment climate in the country.
The University of Bahrain (UoB) is the only national higher education institution in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
New Jersey-based Petra Solar combines the power of distributed solar energy solutions with a smart grid communications infrastructure. The company was selected to install a 5MW highly-distributed power plant to supply electricity throughout the BAPCO township of Awali, the University of Bahrain, and other locations in Bahrain.
Tanmiyat Aloula Holdings has announced its intention to invest $200 million solar power plant in Bahrain. The project will be run in cooperation with the Bahrain Economic Development Board and Bahrain University, and will include a research and training centre.
Zawya listing for Tanmiyat Aloula Holdings
The Solar GCC Alliance is in the process of forming a Bahrain affiliate, to be known as the Bahrain Solar Industry Association (BSIA). This organization will seek to create new solar energy business and employment opportunities in Bahrain and enable collaboration opportunities throughout the GCC region.
To get involved, contact address below for membership details.
Bahrain Solar Industry Association (BSIA)
101, Building 10, Road 1911, Block 319
Kingdom of Bahrain
Vadlamudi Padma Raghu - Country Manager
Tel: +973 3605 3125 (Bahrain)
+1 234 517 3125 (USA)
Major Solar Projects
Petra Solar Completes the Middle East’s Largest Smart Solar Project in Bahrain
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Renewable energy in Bahrain
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