International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director, Maria van der Hoeven, has indicated that North Africa and the Middle East have vast potential for energy and greenhouse gas savings, as well as increases in energy security through diversification, by improving energy security and increasing the regional production of renewable energy.
27 December 2012: The International Energy Agency (IEA) has indicated plans to expand its role in advising on energy efficiency and renewable energy in the Middle East and North Africa.
IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven noted that, although economic reform is an important part of the political transition in the region, “What is less often recognized is that sound energy policies can play a fundamental role in placing economic policy as a whole on a more sustainable footing.”
According to the IEA, energy efficiency can create benefits quickly in the region due to the rapid replacement of housing stock under government housing programs established to address population growth. Efforts are already underway between Saudi Arabia and the IEA on energy efficiency policy, with a focus on buildings, appliances, and transport.
On renewable energy, van der Hoeven remarked on the importance for the region to diversify its energy portfolio. “It seems odd to advocate for solar and wind power in an area which holds 50% of the world’s crude oil and 40% of its gas,” she said, but added that, “even the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters have an interest in diversifying their energy portfolio.” One collaboration between the IEA and governments in the region is the R20 Regions of Climate Action, which is helping Morocco become a solar energy hub to expand energy access domestically and, eventually, across the Mediterranean Basin. [IEA Press Release]