Can U.S. exploit Middle East green energy potential?
August 15th, 2012
11:15 AM ET

Can U.S. exploit Middle East green energy potential?

By Rob Sobhani, Special to CNN

Rob Sobhani is president of Caspian Group Holdings, which has interests in green energy and infrastructure projects, and author of ‘King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: A Leader of Consequence’. The views expressed are his own.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain is one of America’s key allies in the Persian Gulf. He’s also among a growing number of political leaders in the Middle East who see more than oil in the region’s future. After all, the Middle East is blessed with an abundance of another natural resource: sunshine.

Bahrain wants to take full advantage of this reality, and harnessing solar energy has become a top priority in the country. But the government has also taken the surprising step of seeking long-term partnerships with leading American solar energy companies.

I was present a couple of years back when King Hamad tasked his energy minister with selecting the best American solar companies. The goal was to bring American innovation to Bahrain to help address the country’s energy needs, as well as to make Bahrain a global leader in combating climate change and global warming. Both issues are personally important to King Hamad.

The King outlined that day in the country’s capital Manama why he believes that governmental leaders have a duty to protect and preserve the earth, a belief that appears to inform his desire to pursue clean energy for his region and the world.

True, Bahrain’s entrance into solar power was delayed by the recent political upheavals in the region, unrest driven largely by global economic uncertainty. But the government’s determination to build solar electric power plants appears not to have been dimmed. And that’s likely to be a boon for American companies.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, whose mission is to protect the energy-rich Persian Gulf. It is also attached by a 16-mile causeway to Saudi Arabia, which boasts the world’s largest oil reserves. Still, King Hamad appears to understand that the best route to economic security is at least some liberation from oil and a turn toward the sun for energy.

Saudi Arabia knows this as well. It burns its own crude oil at a rate of 2.9 million barrels a day to meet domestic energy demands. Bahrain, for its part, uses about 45,000 barrels a day. Both countries know that they can do a lot for themselves by using more sunlight – and renewable solar power – instead.

By conservative estimates by private and government experts, Middle East countries plan to invest about $500 billion in solar energy over the next two decades, and the U.S. is well positioned to benefit from such expenditure.

In just the last two years, the cost of producing a megawatt of solar energy using American technology has dropped to $2 million from $3 million. The price of smart grid technology, an American innovation, has fallen to $5 million per megawatt from $6 million per megawatt.

That’s a trend that even oil-rich nations are noticing.

China and India are certainly major competitors for this market. But even if the U.S. were to capture only 20 percent of it – or $100 billion – the result could be the creation of 10,000 jobs and a diminished need for U.S. government subsidies to prop up the solar industry.

The reality is that America’s strongest asset is its prowess in emerging technologies. As a result, the U.S. Department of Energy has asserted repeatedly that American companies can compete with any country in the world for the burgeoning solar market.

The U.S. would be wise to do so. Instead of being on the front lines of military confrontations, the U.S. can put itself at the forefront of economic innovation instead. Our solar sales to the Middle East can become a peaceful calling card. Good old American know-how can produce friends in a region where we need as many as we can get.

The expansion of solar power in the Middle East presents the U.S. with a sterling opportunity. And who knows? Maybe the Middle East can become dependent on us for energy for a change.

Post by:
Topics: Bahrain • Energy • Environment • Middle East • Oil • Saudi Arabia • United States

soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Stormy

    wigs for women76983
    human hair wigs

    March 20, 2019 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  2. Gene

    human hair wigs83528
    wigs online

    March 20, 2019 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  3. Wilburn

    wigs online83882
    human hair wigs

    March 20, 2019 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  4. Art

    cheap wigs6984
    cheap wigs human hair

    March 20, 2019 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  5. Mervin

    wigs online9939
    wigs

    March 21, 2019 at 9:12 am | Reply
  6. Les

    human hair wigs42376
    hair extensions

    March 21, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  7. Bert

    human hair wigs58970
    Lace Wigs

    March 21, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  8. Sasha

    human hair wigs26319
    costume wigs

    March 21, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Reply
  9. Barry

    wigs38457
    human hair wigs

    March 21, 2019 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  10. Colette

    wigs58384
    costume wigs

    March 21, 2019 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  11. Ursula

    cheap wigs95338
    wigs

    March 22, 2019 at 7:25 am | Reply
  12. Charity

    wigs for women19071
    Mauricio

    March 22, 2019 at 7:39 am | Reply
  13. Albertina

    costume wigs25986
    Lace Wigs

    March 22, 2019 at 10:26 am | Reply
  14. Jacob

    wigs online76655
    hair extensions

    March 22, 2019 at 10:28 am | Reply
  15. Kenny

    cheap wigs human hair28201
    cheap wigs

    March 22, 2019 at 11:05 am | Reply
  16. Earlene

    wigs99253
    hair extensions

    March 22, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  17. serie tv tf1 hier soir

    Fantasy, drame, comédie, aventure et action. http://cristianfthwh.educationalimpactblog.com/6094059/examiner-ce-rapport-sur-la-series-tv-lemonde

    March 22, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  18. Naomi

    Does piracy still make money?
    7 Ways to Make Money Online
    Making money online is a reality for thousands
    upon thousands of individuals.
    Now you too can make money online. Here are 7 ways you can do just that.

    Who has the best ebook private label rights (PLR) offerings?

    April 8, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  19. Aline

    excellent publish, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector
    don't notice this. You should continue your writing.
    I'm sure, you've a great readers' base already! Juventus fotballdrakter

    April 20, 2019 at 10:26 am | Reply
  20. 마이크로게임

    In addition, you can even look at the regular procedure with the casino online.
    Never ever try to choose the pictures of the animals, cartoons, landscapes or any blank area since this will offer a really odd impression and definately will do not be able to attract individuals towards your
    own party casino. You want a online casino that offers happened exactly the types of games you
    are searching for, but also inserts which you like, excellent
    bonuses, fantastic graphics and customer satisfaction twenty-four hours a day, 1
    week a week. https://casinoview.net/microgame/

    April 25, 2019 at 10:49 am | Reply
  21. fontes de vitamina k

    | Oi , tudo vai bem ? É claro que você está compartilhando informações
    impressionantes , isso é realmente fantástico, continue escrevendo!! http://lopez8931dq.nightsgarden.com/raisin-bran-nutrition-facts-advertisement-bran-the-hard-outer-layer-of-a-grain-is-packed-with-dietary-fiber-vitamins-minerals-proteins-and-starch

    May 20, 2019 at 2:51 am | Reply
  22. 오바마카지노

    In other draws other players have won much higher
    amounts, indeed those two lotteries have bewteen barefoot and
    shoes already created several thousand millionaires.
    When it has received for a long time, this site will have a good record
    in serving the bettor. These companies frequently update their listing of bonuses and free bets every day to offer convenient to the
    players.
    오바마카지노 https://www.casinovil.com/firstcasino

    May 27, 2019 at 3:24 am | Reply
  23. 오바마카지노

    In other draws other players have won much higher amounts, indeed those two lotteries have bewteen barefoot and shoes already created several thousand
    millionaires. When it has received for a long time,
    this site will have a good record in serving the bettor.
    These companies frequently update their listing of bonuses and free
    bets every day to offer convenient to the players.

    오바마카지노 https://www.casinovil.com/obamacasino

    May 27, 2019 at 3:24 am | Reply
  24. Smok VAPE PEN Nord 22 Kit

    Electronic Cigarettes Wholesale,Vape Wholesale and Distribution Ave40vapeshopwholesale2019- Ave40- Element Vape,Smok Vaping Products | Smok Box Mods, Vape Coils & Tanks_SMOKTech manufactures premium vaping devices Shop mods, coils, tanks& starter kits and get free shipping on SMOK.
    Smok VAPE PEN Nord 22 Kit https://www.ave40.com/smok-vape-pen-nord-22-kit-2000mah.html

    July 23, 2019 at 12:31 am | Reply
1 2 3

Leave a Reply to Bert


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.