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How the Middle East Tackles Grid Issues

Todd Carney's picture
Writer, Freelance

Todd Carney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Communications. He writes on many different aspects of energy, in particular how it...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Mar 10, 2023

While many headlines concerning grids in the US and Europe dominate, it is important to consider the grids in the Middle East. The Middle East of course attracts a lot of attention for its ability to produce energy. But there is far more, specifically concerning the grid. Below gives some insight on three key stories about energy sustainability in the Middle East

Solar Farms

Setting aside oil, a source of energy that the Middle East has a lot of is solar energy. A resource that the Middle East greatly lacks is water. A publication put out by the Middle East Institute goes into detail about how the Middle East can utilize solar energy in order to solve their water woes. 

The publication specifically argues for “floating solar farms” which are groups of solar panels that float on different bodies of water. Having solar panels on bodies of water actually helps the work more efficiently due to the water cooling them, which reduces evaporation. These devices can even be used with hydroelectric dams. 

Given that solar farms cause a reduction in evaporation, these farms can help conserve water. The conservation of water is crucial for many areas of life. Whether it be just for consumption, or energy, like hydroelectric power. The piece argues how important this is because fossil fuels will eventually run out, and either way, there is concern about their role in pollution. Many nations in the Middle East are looking to take a more active leadership role in the world, they will face pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, this approach could help.

This sounds like a great initiative. It does not seem like the initiative is calling for only having a reliance on solar energy. They are instead looking for an all of the above option. So long as the technology can work, there is no reason not to invest in it as part of a greater initiative.  


One of the most contentious areas in energy is hydrogen. Many view it as the most promising source of energy to move beyond fossil fuels, while others believe that the hope of hydrogen makes the world fixated on fossil fuels. A piece from Energy Intelligence takes an interesting third view.

In the piece, they argue that hydrogen needs to develop in the Middle East, but many issues are preventing it. Like critics of hydrogen, the piece argues that hydrogen is overhyped. They believe that there is not as much demand as one might think. They also maintain that the technology is not there yet. But people are claiming that the technology is just around the corner. As a result, hydrogen projects become more costly because people believe that the technology is going to have huge rewards. This cost prevents more meaningful investment. 

Additionally, the piece claims that regulations are preventing the hydrogen market from developing. This is a critique often advanced by proponents of hydrogen. The hydrogen markets in the Middle East want investments from abroad, but they have to deal with an array of regulations, some that are protectionist, which specifically makes exporting problematic.

This is an interesting take on hydrogen. The piece seems to believe that hydrogen is worth pursuing, but they have problems with how the Middle East is pursuing it. Many of these critiques could likely apply to other regions as well. The protectionist issue is particularly interesting. Someone’s view on protectionism might depend on their politics, but it does seem like as the world desperately looks for more clean energy, cooperation here is a good idea.

Electric Trucks

The United Arab Emirates announced recently that the Japanese company Hitachi Energy has won a contract to provide charging stations for electric trucks. As noted above, the Middle East often gets the reputation for being largely an oil region. Trucks of course use a lot of gas. But with this serious investment in electric trucks, the UAE, a major force in the region, is clearly interested in moving away from fossil fuels. In fact, the UAE’s investment was part of a broader initiative to have net-zero emissions by 2050. 

The Middle East has faced criticism and praise on a whole host of issues. Some believe that the rest of the world needs to take a tough approach and demand more progress quickly, be it energy or human rights. The UAE is not about to ditch oil, yet they are committed to hitting climate goals. With that in mind, many might use it to show why it is best to work with the Middle East.



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