The Middle east beginning to shake off its Oily Image

About 40 years ago the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) was born and the Middle Eastern countries really started raking in money from the oil that people had found in the previous 40 years. Ever since, countries have looked at the Middle Eastern nations for their massive demand of Oil and Oil products. The Image of Rich spoilt boys from Oil money roaming around the streets with Rolls Royce and Lamborghini’s was formed by all the expatriates in these countries who came looking for some of it.

The image of the middle east has been completely marked with Oil money and expansive behaviours, so much so that nations in the middle east used that OIL money to bring in more people from around the world to live in their nations, and in the process make the desert a place to have millions of people, all in all increasing their carbon footprints. As a matter of fact the United Arab Emirates where I live supposedly has the largest carbon footprint of all the nations in the world per person.

So much about the dark side, the brighter side is that the baby boomer generation in these countries are coming into decision making places and they are making the right decisions in changing the image of the middle east in general. From Abu Dhabi’s most talked about Masdar project which I had the fortune to work on (A small part) right up until visionary projects all across the middle east that are in the pipeling and will change the future of the Middle east from an Oil Powered nations to renewable energy nations.

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For all those guys who would like to see proof here are some of the projects that are in progress in the Middle east that will really make a difference .. soon :

Masdar

The world’s first city that aims at negative carbon emission is one of the most awesome entries in this list. Masdar, in Abu Dhabi has the potential to not only show was to the rest of the Middle East and the World, but also with its initiatives like the Masdar University and Sheikh Zayed Future Energy Prize they might just give gems of renewable energy as well as sustainability lessons to the world.

Desertec / Dii

Dii is a unique private industry joint venture that was launched as the ‘Desertec Industrial Initiative’ in July 2009. Desertec / Dii  activities focus on power generation from the sun and wind in the deserts of the MENA countries and transmission to local demand and partly to the European interconnected grid. Dii will objectively investigate and identify suitable technologies for power generation and transmission. As a consequence, all field-proven, feasible technologies for sun and wind energy conversion and long-distance power transmission will be candidates for selection. This would for instance include CSP and PV technologies, AC and DC transmission and also different concepts for wind power. Dii aim at facilitating and encouraging investments in the framework of the Desertec concept, including knowledge transfer to the MENA area and the establishment of local industries.

Algerian SonelGaz

The Algerian government had decided instead to develop its own flagship solar project. Algeria will do more with solar and expects to make a new town which is completely [powered by] solar electricity. To this end, the state-owned gas and power utility Sonelgaz would install 365 megawatts of solar power capacity between 2013 and 2020. The company planned to install the first 10mw of solar capacity in 2013 and to increase that to 50mw the following year. Sonelgaz planned to spend US$3.3 billion (Dh12.11bn) this year on expanding Algeria’s total power generation capacity and gas distribution network in order to ease energy shortages during peak demand periods.

Bharain Wind-Solar Pilot Power Project

Bahrain will announce next month the winner of a contract to advise on a pilot renewable energy power plant for the kingdom. As well as advising on the pilot project, the selected bider will conduct a feasibility and assessment study for renewable energy technology in Bahrain. The pilot facility is aimed at practical research to further the development of commercial projects. It is expected to be a hybrid wind and solar plant and it will be located on an island.

Millennium Energy Company in Jordan

Millennium Energy Industries, the Jordanian renewable energy developer, has taken the first step towards realising one of three solar projects planned for the Maan Development Area in Jordan’s southern desert. It has teamed up with the US engineering firm CH2M Hill to launch a feasibility study for a utility-scale concentrating solar power plant (CSP) proposed for the Maan Industrial Estate. The study would be funded by the US Trade Development Agency and would address the plant’s technical and economic viability, the companies said. It would also define an implementation strategy in partnership with Jordan’s government and other organisations. Although the technology has been proved on a commercial scale, only 679 megawatts of capacity had been installed worldwide last year, but  another 2,000mw was under construction. Not much of that was in Jordan, or anywhere else within the Middle East.

Last Word

Being in a position to not only produce for the local market but also export technology and knowhow is going to be the next Oil race. So, the renewable energy seems to be the correct direction to go for the Middle East Oil Giants. Interestingly, this is might be a renewal of the Middle East into nations that might just help the world rather than kill it with the carbon footprints.

New Seats in Airlines to increase seating capacity by 25%

How many of us complain about the seating in the Aircraft’s, Most of us ? Some of Us ? None of Us ? My guess would have to be most of us, and being tall like I am does not help the cause as well. I keep wondering, Aircraft manufacturers seem to be building bigger and better aircraft’s trying to provide that additional comfort for passengers, but airlines seem to be making the spacing between seats smaller to make more passengers fit in the same aircraft thus increasing profit and lowering costs.

This is definitely the case with most Budget airlines and with Emirates.  I cannot imagine travelling half way around the world on an Emirates airline flight, sitting 16 hours in a cramped space defiantly is going to cause a lot of discomfort especially for me. Business class, well I am not yet there, to be able to fly business class all the time. Anyway, the trend in the Airline industry in general seems to be trying to cramp as many guys in the same flight as possible. Even to the extent that some airlines have started offering standing room only tickets. I am sure those can be applicable only for short flights. But if one Italian Design firm has its way we could be having one extra person for every 4 passengers on our existing flights.

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After Sharjah Blackouts, are Dubai and Abu Dhabi far behind ?

It is one of the biggest issues worldwide, electricity shortage. There are parts of India that have had these issues for a very long time. I remember Mangalore used to be without electricity for close to 8 – 10 hours a day. However, I have never really faced it here in Dubai, there was never a day without electricity. Oh wait there was this blackout in Jul 2005, I remember but for a few hours, caused a whole load of chaos. But otherwise there has not really been an issue with electricity.

Off late, Sharjah, the neighboring emirate to Dubai has had major issues with the blackouts, there have been major complaints from the residents that this blackout during the summer time is really bad. With the financial situation in the region and the country in general being difficult how is this going to effect Dubai and Abu Dhabi; the two biggest emirates with Sharjah. Dubai in general seems to be the place with the biggest issues out of the two.

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India Innovation – Rice Husk powered Electricity

I am back praising the country for Innovation, this time its one of my favourite future fields, Alternative sources of Power Generation. A Start up from Bihar has come up with s solution for generating power from Rice Husk. Like they say Necessity is the mother of all invention, and availability is the father. This start Up has taken the problem of Indian farmers i.e no electricity and decided to solve it with the locally available source, Rice Husk.

An Indian company called Husk Power Systems is bringing electricity to some of the most rural parts of India by using rice husks as fuel. Rice husk is a by-product of the rice growing process and is generally dumped into landfills, but by using it to build miniature, off-grid power stations, they generate electricity for around 500 households for 8 to 10 hours a day per each power plant that requires just 3 employees to operate and maintain. The company has set up 25 of these eco-friendly plants till now that serve around 50,000 villagers. Husk Power Systems has received numerous accolades for their miniature power plants including a nomination at the finals of BBC’s World Challenge prize.

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Power from you to your gadgets

One of the most important thing that plagues the new society is gadgets of all shapes and sizes. Gadgets, that well require juice in their batteries to work. The problem with batteries would be that charging the batteries would still take some power from the grid. Now if it was the matrix, we could plug our bodies that generate 250 Btu/Hr (while sleeping and 400 Btu/Hr when awake), and convert that to energy to get rid of our dependence from the grid power. Unfortunately, we are not in the matrix and currently most of us still are plugged into the grid to power our devices.

The next revolution in electronics and personal computing would definitely come by with devices that are going to be powered out of something as simple as solar cells on our body, like the helmet that two Indian Engineering students came up with, or using the body heat that we generate or just using kinetic energy that we produce by moving, like the Eco Drive watch range form Citizen which is now getting duplicated by mostly all manufacturers.

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You think Moon … they think Power Plant

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” the famous words of Neil Armstrong, when he stepped on the moon, and looks like Countries around the world are taking this whole Giant Leap bit a little too seriously, America, Russia and Japan all are on a race to try and build a moon base by 2020, and of course since building on the moon by humans might be a bit of a task, they have chosen a whole load of robots to actually do this exercise. Japan the latest to join in the race, has already set the ambitious goal of putting robots on the Moon by 2015, and it’s only natural that they should have a place to hang out while they’re up there. The solar-powered base will be constructed by 660-pound robots on the satellite’s south pole, and it’ll serve as a central station for all manner of robot-conducted Moon experiments.

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Another set of Extremes in Dubai

I have said this before and will not think twice to say it again. Dubai is a city of extremes, on one hand you have the rich boys with their so called toys (Lamborghinis and Ferraris) and on the other hand you have people struggling for their daily meals, the mass of construction laborers. Similar examples roam all around me in this city which has been my second home for a while now. And in this land of extremes I have another example of extremes this time with environment impact. Let’s start with the worst one first:

Dubai Plans to refrigerate a Beach

Yes you read that right ! Dubai is planning to Refrigerate an entire beach, of course it’s for those rich spoilt brats who are ignorant of the fact that slippers and flip flops had been invented over a couple of hundred years back. Anyway, it’s when things like these happen that I begin to think that the guys here making the decisions are living in a bubble outside of what’s happening in the world. Climate Change, Impact to the environment are concepts here that people like talking about but not really implementing.

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What Fonts are the most environment friendly?

What has a font got to do with environment friendliness you ask ? Well the amount of Ink that you would use to write on a piece of paper or print on a piece of paper is completely dependent on the font. To demonstrate this capability Designers Matt Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth looked at ink usage of some commonly-used typefaces, by hand-drawing them with ballpoint pens.

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