Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Last October, the New York Times described how forward=thinking the UAE is in diversifying its energy needs towards more green tech:

The Emirates plans to spend 600 billion dirhams, or $163 billion, over the next three decades to reduce the emissions from power plants that now burn enormous volumes of natural gas in part to cool buildings in the fierce Gulf heat. A lot of the money will go into solar farms, which can be set up across the sands of the Emirates. Another source of clean power will be a group of four nuclear reactors recently built by South Korean contractors in Abu Dhabi that are gradually coming online.

Analysts say that spending so much money is bound to have a major impact in a small country of 9.9 million people that is already well ahead of neighboring petroleum exporters like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in diversifying their economies away from oil. The Emirates, for instance, is a regional hub for finance, logistics and tourism.

And more funding is likely to be forthcoming to support the green agenda, like retrofitting buildings so that they don’t suck up so much power for air conditioning, or converting transportation to electric power or hydrogen. The Emirates is one of those places with the riches and the will to implement “loss-leading projects that are about being at the cutting edge,” said Raad Alkadiri, managing director for energy and climate at the Eurasia Group, a political risk firm.
But when the NYT writes about Israel and green tech, things suddenly get more problematic.

This is the great solar tower of Ashalim, one of the tallest structures in Israel and, until recently, the tallest solar power plant in the world.

“It’s like a sun,” said Eli Baliti, a shopkeeper in the nearest village. “A second sun.”

To backers, the tower is an impressive feat of engineering, testament to Israeli solar innovation. To critics, it is an expensive folly, dependent on technology that had become outmoded by the time it was operational.

Sometimes it feels like a dystopian skyscraper, looming ominously over the cows and roosters of a dairy farm across the road. The tower’s height prompts comparisons with the Tower of Babel, its blinding light with the burning bush. Its base looks like the hangar of a spaceship, its turret the pinnacle of a fantasy fortress.

Using energy from the sun, the tower generates enough electricity to power tens of thousands of homes. Completed in 2019, the plant showcases both the promise and the missteps of the Israeli solar industry, and it is a case study in the unpredictable challenges that await any country seeking to pivot from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

For many villagers, who moved to Ashalim for a flawless desert view, it was a considerable blot on the landscape.

“I’m pro clean energy,” noted Mr. Malka, who runs the pool. “But they chose to do it on the road by the village.”
In the UAE, solar power is wonderful. In Israel, it is problematic.

Anyone wonder why?

(h/t Joshua F)

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