No sign of a transition away from gas and oil reliance
Middle Eastern countries are powered almost exclusively on gas and oil, with little coal reliance. 77% of power came from gas in 2021, and 18% from oil. Few Middle Eastern countries have made any steps to embrace clean electricity. Carbon intensity in the region is high, with an average in 2021 of 515gCO2 per kWh, compared to the global average of 436gCO2 per kWh.
The Middle East stands out as one of the only regions in the world where solar and wind have yet to establish themselves. Many countries have under 1% in the mix. This includes Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has published big plans for renewables, however with little demonstrable progress towards those so far. Jordan is the exception, with 23% of electricity from wind and solar in 2021.
There is still gas investment pouring in: Iran, UAE, Kuwait and Iraq are building more gas power plants than most countries in the world. Around 15% of the world’s gas power generation is in the Middle East.
Despite strong words from many governments about vast desert solar projects, few have yet to materialise – less than 2% of the region’s electricity came from solar in 2021. These projects will likely eventually materialise, but it’s not clear this will happen fast enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Many countries, like Iran and Iraq, have yet to even get any clean electricity projects off the ground, bar a few small legacy hydro projects.
Last updated: May 2023