Source : http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesknight/5160755225/
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic
Author: James Knight
As one Arab state after another convulses with revolution, the importance of the energy sector to countries in the region becomes starkly apparent. Tunisia and Egypt, countries with no oil exports, succumbed to revolution first. Syria and Yemen, which also export no oil, and Libya, which historically produced less oil than any other Arab member of OPEC, teeter on the brink. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have managed to stave off successful revolt.
The link between survival and energy seems to have pushed those oil-rich Gulf States to hedge their bets with investments in alternative energy. After all, they very well can't maintain power if the rest of the world stops using the resource that funds their control.
To this end, Saudi Arabia has announced plans to produce solar power equal to the energy generated by its oil exports. Considering Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter, that's a lot of solar power. The UAE has also invested heavily in solar power, with its 10 MW solar plant reaching all its performance goals, and with a 100 MW concentrated solar plant on pace to begin operations next year.
These developments are clear signs that the nations who profit most from fossil fuels believe that both supply in, and demand for, oil will begin to decline sooner rather than later. Whether or not Saudi Arabia and the UAE meet their alternative energy goals remains to be seen, but the fact that they are even thinking about it shows how quickly the clock is ticking towards the end of oil.