Bahrain has identified seven key initiatives that can be implemented to achieve its renewable energy target, said Dr Abdulhussain Mirza, Electricity and Water Affairs Minister.
In a keynote address to the Solar Utilities Network (SUN) Forum, organised as part of the Gulf Industry Fair in Bahrain, he said the kingdom has set a target of five per cent renewables in the energy mix by 2025 and 10 per cent by 2035.
The cabinet has approved the development of a 100 megawatt (MW) solar plant project in Bahrain. The consultants for this project are in the process of completing the preparations for inviting bidders on a IPP (independent power producer) basis in the next few months, said Dr Mirza.
“The theme of this forum comes at a time very relevant to the ongoing efforts of the Government of Bahrain to focus on the issues of sustainability, and the long-term energy security,” he said.
Bahrain faces a number of challenges in ensuring sustainability and security of its energy needs. These include: its limited resources of fossil fuel compared with its neighbours; a very high per capita consumption of electricity and water; and its international, regional and local commitments towards the clean environment, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Therefore, there is a need to diversify the sources of energy by resorting to renewable energy and also energy conservation by improving efficiency measures.
Dr Mirza said Bahrain’s electricity and water masterplan shows that by 2030, it is estimated that the kingdom’s electrical peak system demand will rise from 3,418 MW (summer 2016) to around 6,500 MW. Undoubtedly, in addition to the heavy capital expenditures on the production, transmission and distribution assets, this will further require an average daily gas consumption of around 900 million scf (standard cu ft) when employing the most efficient power plant cycles.
Meanwhile, the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) initiatives are targeting six per cent energy efficiency by 2025 and there are 22 initiatives planned to be implemented to achieve this target, Dr Mirza said.
A dedicated follow-up and implementation (IFC) committee made up of representatives of all ministries and authorities involved has been assigned to oversee the implementation of the NEEAP and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) has been formed, he said.
He said the ministry is working on the development of renewable energy mandate for new buildings, which will make it mandatory for new buildings and real estate developments to integrate a certain percentage renewable energy in the building design.
He said “tender-based feed-in tariff” is also being prepared to attract private investors to develop large-scale renewable energy projects through a competitive procurement process. All government buildings such as schools and hospitals will be used for this purpose.
He said to support and encourage the renewable energy opportunities, the government has focused its attention on the development of a net metering policy that will enable consumers to generate their own power from renewables for self-consumption and push back excess to the national electricity grid through smart meters. This policy was approved by the Cabinet on December 25, 2017 and implemented in Bahrain effective January 2018.
Legal constraints on the generation of electricity from renewables by private sources have also been removed, he said.
Dr Mirza said the cost of renewables has further declined in recent days. A solar photovoltaic tender in Abu Dhabi a few months ago resulted in the record-low electricity price of 2.40 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is equal to 9 fils per Kh. “While I was in Abu Dhabi recently, I heard that in Mexico a bid was received for 1.69 cents for kilowatt hour – this is cheaper than the domestically produced power from the most efficient combined cycle gas-fired generation,” Dr Mirza said.
Indeed, for countries that use a substantial share of their hydrocarbon production for power generation, solar power has emerged as one of the quickest, least-risk investments to meet rapid demand growth for electricity, he added.
“The renewable energy transition in Bahrain is set to take off and has never been stronger. Occasions like this forum will enable us to learn more and share information, experiences and thoughts,” he added.