The Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) recently hosted Mr. Omran Al-Kuwari, co-Founder and CEO of GreenGulf, for a focused discussion lecture on renewable energy.
Over 40 students and community members gathered to hear what Al-Kuwari had to say about energy diversification. Al-Kuwari is well-placed for this topic as his company, GreenGulf, is a clean technology and renewable energy advisory business that focuses on the development and management of renewable energy in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
The title of Al-Kuwari’s talk was ‘The Paradox of Renewable Energy in Qatar’. He said, “For me, renewable energy is more about energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean technologies all together in one category. In this regard, it’s important to think about Qatar in the context of the Gulf region.”
The attendees learned that Qatar is a very unique country in the Gulf, and of all the nations, because it is the only country in the world you can safely say has enough gas, enough power, to supply itself and to have exports for the foreseeable future. Al-Kuwari added, “Qatar is also in a favorable position because natural gas is seen increasingly as an acceptable option for power generation.” “Qatar has been able to utilize the [North Field] gas field, to monetize it very favorably, and now Qatar is in a unique position because it has gas it can use for its own needs but also export. Qatar is the only country in the GCC that supplies all its power 100% from gas,” he explained. “This means it’s burning cleaner fuel and the oil it is producing can be used for export,” he continued.
However, the Gulf region overall is a market where energy demand is rising. Populations are growing and industry needs are increasing. Al-Kuwari expects that for countries in the Gulf region, renewable energy is now becoming an economic issue. By investing in renewable energy, such as solar power, the region’s countries can choose whether to export or store more of their oil or gas.
“Solar energy is low-hanging fruit in the region,” Al-Kuwari said. “Solar energy fits with our needs…it’s a good match for our region, and it’s a good match for Qatar, and it is easy to implement,” he added. The paradox, Al-Kuwari argued, is why countries in the region have not taken full advantage of this abundant natural resource now that renewable technology costs have come down and energy demand continues to rise.
During the question and answer period, Talal Al Na’ma (Class of 2015) asked about the role of society’s mindset toward renewables: “Are you trying to do anything as GreenGulf to raise awareness through education of students?”
“I feel strongly that we have to start with students,” Al-Kuwari replied. “We want to instill ideas with technology….For example, we want to create an app that shows how much renewable energy is expended throughout the day. We want projects upcoming in the next year to raise awareness.”
The attendees seemed to agree that energy needs are increasing across the region and that this demand will affect most the lives of today’s youth. Al-Kuwari believes a significant change in the mindset of using renewable energy will begin with the upcoming generation.
For more information:
Nahla El Sherif
Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar
Tel:+974 4457 8584