Bahrain government pushes for solar energy

Plans to increase the adoption of renewable energy in Bahrain will be prepared by the Cabinet as it explores green alternatives to traditional power sources.

Information Affairs Minister Isa Al Hammadi told a Press conference after the weekly Cabinet session yesterday (May 11) that the government would work on a futuristic programme for the energy network, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

He said it was looking into alternatives to existing power sources and the Electricity and Water Authority had been directed to conduct studies.

The government has planned for energy expenditure of BD849 million in the national budget for this year and next year.

“There are several projects related to energy that have been tendered this year and others that will come as soon as the national budget gets approved, as we work on new plans for sustainable energy that will see us explore green energy sources,” said Al Hammadi.

“We are concerned about development in the energy sector and are addressing the future through alternative methods, technologies and sources.”

Parliament public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman Jamal Dawood yesterday welcomed plans for renewable energy.

“We back the shift to green energy, which should have been the approach a long time ago,” he said.

“We don’t know if it will be the only source of energy, let’s say in 20 years, or if it will work alongside oil and gas fuelled plants, which involve high costs both in production and maintenance.

“I have heard that experiments being conducted now have proven to be a success and production is being integrated into the normal system, but again there is no timeframe for us to relate to.

“The Cabinet will have to present us with a strong plan, since more than BD800m will be pumped into the budget this year and next.”

The GDN reported in December last year that Bahrain was preparing to open the door to alternative power providers with the setting up of a new watchdog to oversee the green energy sector.

A proposal to establish a National Renewable Energy Regulatory Authority has been presented to Bahrain’s Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission, revealed Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza in an exclusive interview.

He said the new body, which would be independent from the ministry, would pave the way for investment in solar power and wind farms.

Bahrain has already launched a pilot renewable energy project with a solar power plant producing five megawatts of electricity for Bapco, Awali and the nearby Bahrain University.

Work on a similar pilot project to produce 5MW of electricity using both solar and wind power is due to commence around the middle of this year.

Cabinet secretary-general Dr Yasser Al Nasser said the issue will now be addressed by the ministerial committee for urbanisation and infrastructure, which will try to adopt projects in line with GCC criteria.

“It will involve coming up with a national strategy for energy quality, a work strategy for renewable energy and introducing the GCC criteria in power related projects,” he said.

It follows a presentation by Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza during the Cabinet session.