Karim Khayat: Waste to Energy in MENA

Karim Khayat is the Chief Executive Officer of Middle East Power, a leading name in the
global energy industry today. Through his company, Karim Tahseen Khayat has contributed
to providing many countries with electricity, as well as driving sustainability.

This article will look at the potential of converting waste to energy to reduce reliance on
finite materials and mitigate the damage created by an increasingly ‘throwaway culture,
moving towards a more circular economy in the process.

Generating energy from waste- in the form of heat or electricity- to use in modern
businesses and homes is a logical step as part of wider moves towards circular thinking.

In the Middle East North African (MENA) region, high volatility in oil prices has created
turbulence in energy markets in recent months, forcing MENA countries, particularly non-oil
producers, to seek out alternative sources of energy. In addition to the economic incentives of
waste-to-energy technologies, societies all over the world are becoming increasingly
environmentally conscious. Renewable energy has seen a huge uptick in interest globally as
the international community scrambles to mitigate the impact of climate change, innovating
and expanding methods of generating sustainable energy- particularly in developing nations
– and augmenting energy supply and security.

Many MENA countries are well-positioned for biomass waste-to-energy development,
benefitting from a rich feedstock base in the form of crop residues, agro-industrial wastes and
municipal solid wastes. With a high rate of economic expansion, urbanization and population
growth, the MENA region is accelerating not only in consumption rates but also in the
generation of a wide variety of waste.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar all rank in the global top-ten per capita
waste-generating countries. With a total urban waste generation quantity of 80+ million tons
annually, Arab countries present huge biomass waste-to-energy potential. In this part of the
world, where open dumping is the most common mode of waste disposal, the ability to
convert waste into energy would not only eliminate waste from the streets but would help to
power homes and businesses too.

Biomass wastes-to-energy technologies not only recover substantial amounts of energy but
also drive down overall waste quantities requiring disposal, facilitating better waste
management and enabling waste to be disposed of in a safe, controlled manner. Energy
generated from biomass wastes could significantly mitigate greenhouse gas emissions
throughout the Middle East by reducing long-term storage of carbon in biomass wastes and
lowering fossil carbon emissions.

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