Middle East Turns to Renewable Energy

As Romney and his Republican colleagues continue to push for fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy, even the Middle East is moving along on the latter.

Qatar announced a solar target of 1.8 gigawatts (GW) by 2014, and Saudi Arabia is aiming for 100% renewable energy, after adopting a target of 41 gigawatts of solar by 2032. Its first utilty-scale solar plant is under construction, as is a solar polysilicon manufacturing facility.

This week, Iraq announced it will invest in 400 megawatts of solar and wind over the next three years to the tune of $1.6 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The government has invited 25 solar, wind and transmission developers to build projects there, including Japan’s Toyota Tsusho Corp, Swiss engineering group ABB and Egypt’s Orascom Construction.

"It is true that we are an oil country but we should save oil for the coming generation not only sell it or burn it," Laith al-Mamury, of Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity told Bloomberg.

Still ravaged from the war, Iraq’s power grid desperately needs re-building. It has daily black-outs, only able to supply power for a few hours each day.

Across the Middle East and North Africa, there are about 150 renewable energy projects being built, including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. 

Rather than consuming all their oil and gas resources, they are more often turning to renewables to supply domestic demand, leaving fossil fuels for export.

Here’s a map of projects in the Middle East:

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