MANAMA - Bahrain has set a target of 10 per cent of total energy consumption to be met through renewables by 2035, doubling the 5pc goal by 2025, Electricity and Water Affairs Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza has said.
In a keynote address at the Solar Utilities Network (SUN) Forum yesterday held alongside the Gulf Industry Fair 2018 at Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre, the minister said the country has been experiencing growth rates in electricity demand of up to 6pc annually, which requires the implementation of large projects.
Bahrain currently meets its entire electricity needs using natural gas (about 4,000MW), and the government has approved plans to build a 100MW solar power station as a public private partnership project, he said.
The solar plant project will provide for 2.5pc of the country’s electricity needs and the national goal is to increasing energy efficiency by 6pc by 2025. The tendering process will begin soon, said Dr Mirza and the project will be ready for operations by the end of 2019.
The government will provide the land for the project and undertake to purchase the plant’s production of electricity at a specified tariff that will be agreed on when the project is awarded.
Dr Mirza said one of the important steps taken by the government in seeking to secure a green environment and clean energy was the establishment of the Sustainable Energy Unit (SEU) in co-operation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The unit is charged with encouraging investment in renewable energies like solar energy.
The minister said he expects the investment in renewable energy and clean energy to be attractive to Gulf investments.
The cost of production has fallen due to the development of solar panel technology and the need for countries to enter the private sector as a partner in the implementation, management and maintenance of electric power projects.
In his speech, the minister also outlined the details of the National Energy Efficiency Plan (NEEAP) and the National Renewable Energy Plan (NREAP).
He also spoke of the government’s approval of regulations relating to the solar energy generated on the roofs of houses and commercial facilities and the procedures for their safe connection to the government electricity grid.
Called the net metering scheme, the plan which came into effect from January 1 this year means that the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) will no longer be the sole power producer in the country.
Home-owners and others who are able to generate electricity through solar PV systems will not only be able to reduce their consumption of power from the grid, thereby reducing their bills but also be able to charge the EWA for the excess electricity they produce by pumping it into the grid, said the minister.
The minister also emphasised job creation and economic wins from the transition to renewables for the kingdom.
The forum also featured presentations by SEU senior technical adviser Dr Khalid Burashid, and solar expert Alexander Al Samahiji outlining the billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the national grid.
The SUN event covered topics pertaining to renewable energy technology, renewable energy challenges and opportunities, job creation and skilling a workforce for the challenges of solar and renewable energy.
The forum served as a platform for the exchange of knowledge on solar and renewable energy technology and on the challenges and opportunities in the solar energy sector, generating solar power and government policies. It also addressed issues relating to energy storage and the supply of manpower needed to work in the sector.
The three-day Gulf Industry Fair is organised annually by Hilal Conferences and Exhibitions (HCE), a part of the Al Hilal Group whose chairman Anwar Abdulrahman moderated the keynote session.
“The SUN forum is in line with promoting the ground-breaking work of Bahrain to achieve its renewable energy goals and vision,” said Mr Abdulrahman.
“Solar is of global interest and the forum being organised against the backdrop of an exhibition like the Gulf Industry Fair, will bring greater focus on products and services such as photovoltaic (PV) systems, energy storage and the implementation of PV systems for industrial use,” he added.
Ambassadors, senior officials and invitees from various government and private sectors were present.
GIF 2018 concludes today.
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