Elite London schools draw foreign home buyers to capital

Students from University College London (UCL) celebrate with friends and family following a graduation ceremony on the Southbank in London, Britain, September 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 06 September 2018
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Elite London schools draw foreign home buyers to capital

  • Property prices in London have long been swelled by foreign investment, making living in the city unaffordable for those on lower incomes
  • Overseas parents spent about 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) on prime property near London schools over the past year, a report said

LONDON: Wealthy foreigners are spending billions of pounds on homes near London’s top private schools, even as demand for prime property in the British capital falters, new research has found.
Overseas parents spent about 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) on prime property near London schools over the past year, according to a report published on Wednesday by global property firm Knight Frank. Most were from China or Russia.
“Our analysis shows just how important the standard of top London schools is to wealthy international individuals and the demand this contributes to the London property market,” said Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank.
Property prices in London have long been swelled by foreign investment, making living in the city unaffordable for those on lower incomes, although price growth has slowed since Britain voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the European Union.
Anthony Breach, analyst with the British think-tank Center for Cities, said foreign ownership was exacerbating a broader lack of affordable housing in Britain’s capital.
“We need to build more housing, then more people could benefit from London’s strong economy and schools,” said Breach. “The supply of housing is not matching the demand.”
Knight Frank said political pressures coupled with an increase in taxation on high-value properties had put significant pressure on London’s luxury housing market.
But parents were still purchasing property in the capital while their children attend school. “Education is the driver,” Bailey told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“This is a sector which in terms of its appeal to a global market appears to be pretty much unaffected by Brexit ... and has remained very robust,” he said.
Prices have fallen by between 10 and 20 percent over the past three years at the top of the London market, according to Knight Frank’s report.
Bailey said lower property prices and a weakened pound may be attracting foreign parents to buy in London.
“Given the potential 10-year span of education for children that come over as young as 11 or 13, many of these parents are looking at a longer term commitment as opposed to a short term investment,” he said.
Knight Frank said the motivations for parents included the quality of education in Britain and the perceived boost to university and job prospects offered by attending prestigious London schools.
The most popular countries to send children to school after Britain were the United States followed by Canada and other European Union countries, the report found.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set ambitious targets to tackle a chronic housing shortage, undertaking a London-wide house building scheme of 650,000 new homes by 2029 — more than double the current rate. ($1 = 0.7732 pounds) (Reporting by Adela Suliman, Editing by Claire Cozens. Thomson Reuters Foundation)


‘Fuel of the future’ comes of age as Aramco opens first hydrogen filling station

Updated 17 June 2019
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‘Fuel of the future’ comes of age as Aramco opens first hydrogen filling station

  • Fatih Birol’s comments were a deliberate poke at those experts who think that the sheer logistics of hydrogen make it always an unlikely solution to global energy challenges
  • Birol’s article was followed by a report from the IEA that put some meat on the bones of the argument that hydrogen is key to solving problems such as global warming

DUBAI: Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, cracked a joke in the Financial Times a couple of weeks ago.
“Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, and it always will be,” he wrote about the fuel that many experts agree could hold the key to the world’s energy problems.
It was a deliberate poke at those experts who think that the sheer logistics of hydrogen — generation, storage, and transportation — make it always an unlikely solution to global energy challenges.
Birol’s article was followed by a report from the IEA that put some meat on the bones of the argument that hydrogen is key to solving such problems as global warming and environmental degradation.
“The world has an important opportunity to tap into hydrogen’s vast potential to become a critical part of a more sustainable and secure energy future … The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future,” the report said.
That argument will get a critical boost today, when Saudi Aramco, the biggest oil company in the world, opens its first hydrogen fueling station in Dhahran Techno Valley, in the heart of the Kingdom’s oil producing region.
Aramco has partnered with Air Products, a US company that has been a pioneer in the use of industrial gases, to produce a filling station for hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

 

It is very much a test. “The collected data during this pilot phase of the project will provide valuable information for the assessment of future applications of this emerging transport technology in the local environment,” Aramco said when the project was first announced.
But it is something Aramco has been investigating for a long time. Ahmed Al-Khowaiter, Aramco’s chef technology officer, said: “The use of hydrogen derived from oil or gas to power fuel cell electric vehicles represents an exciting opportunity to expand the use of oil in clean transport.”
Hydrogen — essentially what is left when you take the oxygen out of water — has been recognized as a potential fuel source for many decades. Motor manufacturers developed a hydrogen motor engine 50 years ago, but the ease and accessibility of hydrocarbon fuels — oil, gas and coal — made it uneconomic to develop this technology beyond the prototype stage.
Now, as the debate over the role of hydrocarbons in the global environmental balance has become ever more intense, some experts, including Birol and other influential parts of the thought-leadership establishment, believe hydrogen is the next Big Thing in global energy trends.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) said recently that “green” hydrogen offers a solution to the world energy challenge, and that is the problem the theoreticians are struggling with: Hydrogen is released naturally in the process of burning hydrocarbons, but it is self-defeating, in an environmental sense. if you have to burn oil, gas or coal to produce it.
On the other hand, renewable sources, like sun, wind and water, do not produce enough hydrogen to be practically or commercially viable, and not at the right times, when people actually need it.
But, as the WEF noted recently “low-cost green hydrogen is coming”, as technology advances mean the cost of renewable energy falls dramatically each year. The Middle East already has a very big and very cost-efficient program for solar energy generation.
The other challenges lay in how to store and transport hydrogen. It can be loaded onto a tanker like LNG, or pushed through pipelines, but it would require a huge investment to change current logistics systems — essentially designed for oil and LNG — to handle hydrogen.
Many countries, including Saudi Arabia, already have the infrastructure associated with oil and gas refining and petrochemicals production to be able to equip “hydrogen hubs,” as long as there is government will and commercial incentive to do so.
For the Kingdom, it looks like a no-brainer for the future. As Birol said: “So, hydrogen offers tantalising promises of cleaner industry and emissions-free power. Turning it into energy produces only water, not greenhouse gases. It’s also the most abundant element in the universe. What’s not to like?”

FACTOID

Technological advances mean low-cost ‘green’ hydrogen offers a solution to the world energy challenge, according to the World Economic Forum.