The Middle East is one of the most energy-rich regions on Earth. With vast reserves of fossil fuels and near-perfect conditions for solar energy, it is hard to imagine anywhere in the region ever having a power cut. Indeed, many Middle East countries subsidise their energy supplies so heavily that they are almost free when compared to other countries.
Not so in the emirate of Sharjah, which has just experienced it’s second set of energy shortages in consecutive years. Crippling power cuts have swept the area, forcing people to sleep outside of their sweltering homes and costing businesses tens of thousands of dirhams.
Amazingly, the energy shortages were caused not by a lack of capacity, as is so often the case in developing countries such as the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh , but from a lack of fuel. Natural gas supplies to the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) dried up, and without further sources forthcoming some of SEWA’s generators shut down, resulting in rolling blackouts.
SEWA has the capacity to switch to diesel generators to cover the energy shortage, but has proven loathe to do so in the past due to diesel being triple the price of natural gas. It could also import electricity from Abu Dhabi or another nearby country, but the necessary deals cannot be set up overnight in order to predict, generate and balance the new supplies. Expanding solar energy is an obvious strategy for Middle East countries to take, but the cheap cost of fossil fuels generally acts as a disincentive.
Whilst SEWA worries about how to make up for the energy shortage it is ordinary people and businesses feeling the pain. Businesses keen to keep the lights on have to invest in their own backup generators, and/or keep their energy demand as low as possible through energy efficient technologies.
Source: Energy Saving News
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