Energy & Mining
In my very first meeting with a government official, I was asked about World Bank support for geothermal power generation in Djibouti and the exploration needed to identify viable sources. I must admit, at the time, I was not very familiar with the technology. Nevertheless, I learned fast about geothermal energy and about the project that was under preparation.
When I was a graduate student, I often drove through the Altamont Pass wind farm. I thought of them as the California’s equivalent of Dutch windmills, more beauty than function. Little did I know that it was one of the first, and largest, wind farms in the United States and that I would someday learn more about their value and potential.
Managing energy demand in a country like China, where millions of businesses and households rely on a steady supply, is definitely one of China’s greatest challenges. The thorny question is how can the country find a sustainable way to provide reliable sources of energy to such a huge and demanding market? Well, answers are starting to appear on the horizon, or rather, in the sky.
My previous blog discussed the causes of the “botagas crisis” in Egypt. I argued that the root cause has been an indiscriminate subsidization of fuel consumption through below-cost pricing. This has mainly benefited affluent households, which has led to overconsumption, uneconomic investments, enormous and unsustainable fiscal cost (reported to be over 130 billion Egyptian pounds – or more than US$21 billion -- for the coming fiscal year), near-bankruptcy of fuel suppliers, and fuel supply shortages. I also argued that such policy has been neither socially just nor economically sound.
Some countries of the Middle East and North Africa region are once again lighting up a new path. Following the social revolutions which showed the world the effect of combining non-violent protest with new media technology, an energy revolution is now underway. It also utilizes cutting-edge technology with the potential to lead the world into a new energy era. Pointing beyond fossil fuels, this revolution aims to harness an older and more abundant resource: sunshine.