The world is witnessing rapid growth in the development of the renewable energy sector. According to the International Energy Agency, the number of global projects increased by 50% in 2023 compared to the previous year. It is also expected that these projects will continue to grow significantly in the next five years. However, the integration of renewable energy into the power system comes with challenges that need to be considered. Traditional electricity grids were developed over decades, with electricity production responding proportionally to consumption. In the case of solar and wind energy, their production is primarily linked to weather conditions, such as wind speed, cloud cover, and dust accumulation.
Therefore, electricity consumers play a pivotal role in supporting expansion plans for renewable energy. They can adapt their consumption habits to align with these renewable sources, especially if appropriate legislation is in place. This creates an opportunity for a genuine partnership between producers and consumers. For the first time, consumers can also become producers and contributors to the electric power market.
One of the best examples of this model is the German village of Feldheim, the world’s first energy self-sufficient village. The village has wind turbines, solar panels, and a bio-gas station for heating. The cost of electricity in this village is lower than in other regions of Germany. The village also sells its surplus production to power companies, making village residents investors who benefit from reduced production, operation, and maintenance costs. To join the village’s network, a subscriber pays a one-time subscription fee and must be approved by other subscribers to become their partner.
The growth of the renewable energy sector also contributes to increased partnerships with the private sector. Many countries, including Bahrain, have adopted a contracting model called “Build, Own, Operate, and Maintain” (BOOM). This allows the private sector to install solar panels for consumers without any cost to the government, in exchange for a fixed tariff for a specified period, lower than the current electricity tariff. One notable project by the Ministry of Electricity and Water involves installing solar panels on the roofs of eight government schools in partnership with the Ministry of Education, as well as installing solar energy systems in the parking lots of the Bahrain International Circuit.
In conclusion, opportunities in the renewable sector go beyond the mentioned examples, and there are numerous areas that can be developed with a scientific and comprehensive approach.
Source: Alwatan News
Dr. Abdulla Alabbasi, Director of the Energy and Environment Program