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If you want to see the bold future of alternative energy, don’t look to the relatively timid plan coming out of the Obama White House. Instead, look to the green revolution exploding out of the least likely place you could imagine: the Persian Gulf.
Yes, the oil-soaked monarchies of such Gulf States as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are designing, developing, funding, and building a visionary future of clean, renewable energy. It completely reconfigures the meaning of “ironic” to see these OPEC oligarchs become the pioneers of a green world – but there they are.
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As Elizabeth Rosenthal reported in the New York Times on January 13, “They are aggressively pouring billions of dollars made in the oil fields into new green technologies. They are establishing billion-dollar clean-technology investment funds. And they are putting millions of dollars behind research projects at universities… and setting up green research parks.”
In so doing, the Gulf States are becoming the world leader in alternative energy, a position that many assumed belonged to America. In just one small country, Abu Dhabi, the crown prince is investing $15 billion in renewables – as much as Obama has proposed for all of the United States.
From developing “green concrete” and new solar devices to building a model city that generates no carbon emissions, these leaders are making breakthroughs that will redefine the world’s energy economy. In the process, they also are gaining patents, manufacturing capacity, and market power that could put them in a familiar position: the world’s dominant energy provider. Indeed, they candidly state that they intend to be the Silicon Valley of alternative energy.
Where are our leaders? Not only should they think much bigger than they are about developing the green energy future – but also about democratizing it.
“Seeing Oil’s Limits, Gulf States Invest Heavily in Clean Energy,” www.nytimes.com, January 13, 2009.