The Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Agency’s grid operator is studying the feasibility of a cable to Ethiopia, which would run through currently war-torn Yemen

By Megan Darby (Climate Home News) |

Arabian Gulf countries are considering an electricity link with Ethiopia to import hydropower, according to the region’s grid operator.

The Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Agency (GCCIA) is studying the feasibility of a cable – which would pass through currently warn-torn Yemen – as part of efforts to reduce reliance on oil and gas for power generation.

Connections with Africa and Europe, as well as homegrown renewable energy projects, will help to save petroleum for export, GCCIA chief executive Ahmed Ali Al-Ebrahim told Climate Home News.

“We are rich in energy, we are dependent on fossil fuels, on gas and oil in the GCC countries,” he said. “But we cannot continue to rely on oil and gas for our energy production because it is also one of our main income sources.

“There is a general approach to diversify our power resources. That is why we are looking at renewable energy, nuclear energy and even hydropower in this case.”

A high-level delegation from Saudi Arabia visited the construction site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in 2016. In May, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made Riyadh his first calling point after African neighbours Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti.

With a capacity of 6.45 gigawatts, Ethiopia’s mega-project is set to be the largest hydropower dam in Africa. Building could be completed as soon as 2019. The reservoir will take another 5-15 years to fill.

The cable being explored would pass under the Red Sea and through Yemen to connect the resource to Saudi Arabia, said Al-Ebrahim.

Riyadh and its allies in the GCC are involved in the war in Yemen, having killed thousands of civilians in air strikes, according to the UN.

“At the Gulf Cooperation Council we believe this conflict will end eventually, it is just a matter of time,” said Al-Ebrahim. “When the conflict finishes then there will be a big need for electric power in Yemen and beyond… We are hoping that by that time we will be ready with our plans and designs for this project.”

Continue reading this story at Climate Home News
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