Saudi Arabia to Transition to 100% Renewables

Edward Musiak/CC BY 2.0

Through it acknowledges that it may take decades, Saudi Arabia has announced plans to transition to 100% renewable energy, The Guardian reports.

Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud touted the nation's vast solar power potential, as well as the potential for Saudi Arabia's depleted oil fields being used for carbon capture and storage projects, though mentioned no specific date being aimed for.

Which is all fine and good, but Prince Turki also mentioned something which shows a certain prescience, an important forethought, and some insight into how Saudi Arabia and other oil producing nations could still potentially profit from their oil reserves—extending the lifetime of their reserves—even after it is no longer used as the dominant method of powering vehicles:

Oil is more precious for us underground than as a fuel source. If we can get to the point where we can replace fossil fuels and use oil to produce other products that are useful, that would be very good for the world. I wish that may be in my lifetime, but I don't think it will be.

The Prince's words offer an interesting scenario to consider:

At some future time the dominant mode of generating electricity is renewable, low-carbon sources. This provides power for our homes, gadgets, many of our vehicles. Perhaps some vehicles, such as container ships and aircraft are still powered by oil or some combination of renewables, oil, and sustainably produced biofuels in limited quantities. Oil is still used but in a much more limited capacity than they are now, used to make products that simply can't be made with other materials and are designed to last virtually forever (plastic is pretty much forever, remember...). Yes, there are still some carbon emissions resulting from manufacturing such products, and from the limited burning of oil for transportation, but since renewably produced electricity has become the norm, displacing fossil fuel-generated electricity and replacing oil in most transportation, emissions from this sector are still hugely reduced. We're using resources far more wisely than we now are—though for the sake of discussion I'm deliberately ignoring potential environmental impact of oil extraction, an abstraction for sure. It's perhaps not a purely green future, but it's a far, far more green path than we're now treading. It's also providing a more palatable end game for oil companies and oil producing nations than simply telling them to kick their dependency cold turkey.

Tags: Oil | Saudi Arabia

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