Tuesday, November 9, 2010
QATAR CAN LEAD THE WORLD TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY FOR THE NEXT BILLION YEARS
Doha is the capital of Qatar, a country less than half the area size and one-fifth the citizen population of Hawaii. However, they will probably sell $30 billion worth of oil this year and has the third largest known natural gas reserves in the world. The potential, then, is incredible, but only for a few more decades.
There are 180 delegates from around the globe to advise the country on how to plan for their energy future. This is not a conference, but an elaborate set of discussion groups to provide pathways and roadmaps about what they should do. One third are focused on carbon capture and sequestration (Qatar has by the far the highest carbon footprint per capita: 55 metric tons/capita, while #2 is the Netherland Antilles at 33 mt/capita), alternative energy and energy efficiency.
Qatar has one generation to plan for their future over the next billion years. Sure, there is considerable sunlight (except for today, when it is actually raining), and, clearly, they should do everything possible to transition to those solar technologies ideal for their needs, while maximizing energy efficiency. The gathering will set the tone for future planning.
However, today, each alternative energy discussion group provided the obvious: improve educational opportunities, link with the region/world, focus on appropriate resources, etc. I thus felt compelled to add in the general discussion that, in addition to all the above, Qatar is in a unique position to do something monumental to leapfrog the country to global prominence.
As one example, visit Singapore (Biopolis and Fusionopolis) and learn how best to establish a world class interdisciplinary/international/whatever institute (there has to be a more exciting term, maybe energy park for the future is more descriptive) on sustainable resources. They can easily set aside a billion dollars/year to bring 250 of the most outstanding international individuals from the leading companies and institutions to work closely with their personnel to develop key patents, such as for the direct methanol fuel cell, salt water microalgal systems, etc., so that over a ten year period they can establish go-co's, licensing mechanisms and more to diversify their economy away from oil and gas.
This steeple of excellence can be located in their now building Energy City located adjacent to the Ritz-Carleton. While Energy City is for hydrocarbons, all the more magnificent to link the future of fossil fuel to the Sun.
Such a concept would get nowhere in the United States. Singapore can perform similar miracles because it is the closest thing to a benevolent dictatorship. Qatar is run by an emir with infinite powers and $30 billion dollars/year. If the country can create a new city over the ocean in ten years. I wonder what they can do to steer the world towards sustainability for, yes, the next billion years.
Well, we haven't heard yet from the carbon and efficiency groups, as that will happen tomorrow. Then, the next day for Oslo to meet on the Blue Revolution, faced with a probable $1000 penalty for being overweight (by only 19 kilograms), as all my appeals were denied. I've got to give credit to the Doha Carbon and Energy Forum staff, though, for Shaikha Ali Shahbeck, in particular, really tried. I thank him for his timely persistence. My warning to my readers is to watch out when you travel on Qatar Airways. Business class patrons can only bring 30 kg (66 pounds, 50 pounds for economy). I have with me a second suitcase, for I am on a two month around the world odyssey. Yes, I should think about staying home, maybe forever.