Saudi-led coalition backs new UN envoy to Yemen

Spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition, Col. Turki Al-Maliki, speaks during a press conference in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 01 March 2018

Saudi-led coalition backs new UN envoy to Yemen

RIYADH: The efforts of the outgoing UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to bring about peace had been derailed by Houthi militia intransigence and ignorance of international law, the spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition, Col. Turki Al-Maliki, said on Wednesday.
Al-Maliki paid tribute to the endeavors of the former UN envoy and welcomed his replacement Martin Griffiths during a weekly press conference in Riyadh.
He wished Griffiths success, noting that the coalition welcomed the opening of the office of the UN special envoy in Yemen’s provisional capital of Aden.
Al-Maliki called on UN and non-government organizations dealing with Yemeni affairs to follow suit, in accordance with paragraph II of Article 41 of the Vienna Agreement on Diplomatic Relations, which states that parties should communicate with the government and its foreign ministry wherever it is based.
He reiterated the coalition’s position of coercing coup militias in Sanaa to obey international community resolutions. The final report submitted by the UN experts team affiliated to the sanctions committee in Yemen, issued on Wednesday, was welcomed by the coalition, however it had reservations about some of its paragraphs, which contained baseless logic and false assumptions, he said.
Al-Maliki welcomed concrete evidence confirming the involvement of the Iranian regime in supporting terrorist organizations — citing ballistic missiles, drone planes, speed boats, and mines — which contributed to aggravating the crisis in Yemen and spreading chaos in the region.
The coalition has demanded the names of figures detected by the report to be added to the list of those to be sanctioned, he said.
Al-Maliki also highlighted the importance of providing protection for Yemeni historical antiquities, citing evidence that some people had illegally sold items from the National Museum of Yemen in Sanaa.
He described accusations that the coalition prevented the movement of foreign media representatives in Yemeni as inaccurate. The Yemeni government had declared that it would not be responsible for the safety of journalists abducted by militias in areas controlled by the Houthis. He said some western journalists had been kidnapped and ransoms demanded.
Al-Maliki said the coalition would not prevent media representatives from going where they liked inside Yemen, but that it would not be held accountable for any harm caused by terrorist and outlawed organizations inside Yemen and rejected paying ransoms for their release.
He stressed that the coalition would facilitate the access of journalists to Yemen, adding that there was no objection to press reports or the presence of media on the ground.
Al-Maliki also said that there were 22 ports currently operating at full capacity for the entry of humanitarian aid and relief and basic materials to Yemen.
The Yemen Comprehensive Humanitarian Operations (YCHO) had helped 959,879 people, and he said that the number of beneficiaries would exceed a million within two days.
Al-Maliki highlighted the flow of humanitarian aid within the comprehensive humanitarian operations in Yemen recently, including 69 convoys heading to Alwadia port from where assistance was distributed in Yemen.
Al-Maliki said that there were six initiatives for the treatment of the injured as well as the rehabilitation of children. Since the start of military operations there had been 50 clearances of maritime vessels carrying relief and medical aid as well as fuel.
He added that air clearance reached 87 for flights heading to four Yemeni airports, where the number of passengers reached about 8,000 to and from Yemen — and land ports had been granted 11 clearances.
Al-Maliki said that Iranian-backed Houthi militias continued to recruit children in violation of international and humanitarian law.

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

Updated 20 January 2020

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

  • Government plans to invest up to $50bn in renewable energy projects by 2023
  • Demand for electricity in the Kingdom is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia has become one of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s leaders in the race to use renewable energy, according to a new study.

The Solar Outlook Report 2020 was launched at the Solar Forum of the World Future Energy Summit, a highlight of this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (Jan. 11-18).
The report, prepared by Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), the largest regional body of its kind, said Saudi Arabia and Oman have joined the UAE, Morocco and Egypt as leaders in the renewables race.
“Saudi Arabia is now in the third year of implementation of its massive target of 60 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy generation by 2030,” it said.
Martine Mamlouk, secretary-general of MESIA, said that investment in solar energy is evident across MENA countries. “Saudi Arabia has a target of almost 60 gigawatts of renewable energy, out of which 40 gigawatts are solar,” she told Arab News.
“This is in line with the Kingdom’s objective of diversification and Vision 2030. While the industry is reaching grid parity, it is great to see the deployment of new innovative technologies to increase efficiency of systems, production management and grids.”
Upcoming solar projects in the Kingdom include Madinah, Rafh, Qurayyat, Al-Faisaliah, Rabigh as well as Jeddah, Mahd Al-Dahab, Al-Rass, SAAD and Wadi Ad-Dawasir, along with Layla and PIF.
Saudi Arabia’s energy demand has been rising steadily, with consumption increasing by 60 percent in the past 10 years, according to data provided by market researchers Frost & Sullivan. Demand for electricity in 2019 reached 62.7 GW and is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030.
The value of solar-power projects in the MENA region is estimated at between $5 billion and $7.5 billion. By 2024, that figure is expected to approach $15 billion to $20 billion.
Under its Vision 2030 program, the Kingdom aims to reduce its dependency on oil revenues, diversify its energy mix and tap its renewable energy potential.

Saudi Acwa power-generating windmills that have been erected in Jbel Sendouq, on the outskirts of Tangier, Morocco. (Reuters)

After the Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) was set up within the Ministry of Energy, the goals for the Kingdom’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) were revised upwards in 2018, resulting in a five-year target of 27.3 GW and a 12-year target of 58.7 GW.
The Saudi government plans to invest up to $50 billion in renewable energy projects by 2023.
“At MESIA, we are excited to see solar developments in the MENA region accelerating and reaching attractive tariffs, while lowering the carbon footprint of regional economies,” Mamlouk said.
“The total investment in renewables in MENA between 2019 and 2023 is expected to be $71.4 billion, representing a 34 percent share of the total investment in the power sector, which is valued at $210 billion.”
Changes introduced by Saudi Arabia include a focus on local developers and easing of regulations for local manufacturers of solar panels.
A Local Content and Government Procurement Authority has been established to oversee and audit local content compliance.
Separately, a Renewable Energy Financing package has been launched by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to support the growth of utility and distributed-generation sectors.
After solar photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of a mosque in Riyadh, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center recommended a similar move at other mosques.
Meanwhile, plans for the use of solar panels in the Saudi agro-industry have led to burgeoning interest in the technology, with several industrial facilities expected to have their own units in the not-too-distant future.
For good measure, a regulatory framework to allow exchanges with the power grid is being studied by the Electricity Co-generation Regulatory Authority.
Flexible storage solutions, such as hydrogen, will give intermittent renewable energy a greater share in the energy system, Mamlouk said. “It may enable present-day oil and gas exporters to become key renewable energy exporters tomorrow. The solar industry is thrilled and proud to participate in this profound transformation of Saudi Arabia’s energy system.”
In the past year solar tariffs have fallen to record low levels in the MENA region, mainly due to tremendous cost declines that have brought the goal of grid parity within reach.
With installed solar electricity capacity worldwide standing at 617.9 GW, MENA governments are staying focused on energy diversification with the help of large-scale projects.
In the UAE, Dubai is targeting the completion of a 5 GW facility by 2030 at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park. Abu Dhabi has “engaged” its second-largest solar project and is considering the roll-out of more units by 2025.


62.7GW - Demand for electricity in Saudi Arabia in 2019

Morocco aims to reach 52 percent contribution by renewables in its energy mix by 2030. The figures for Tunisia and Egypt are 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, by 2022.
Oman expects solar-power plants totaling 1.5 GW to come on stream by the end of 2022. Even Iraq, with all its political troubles and administrative paralysis, has not ignored solar power in drawing up plans for its future energy mix.
“Investments in renewable energy have reached billions in all Arab countries,” Mohammed Al-Taani, secretary-general of the Arab Renewable Energy Commission, said.
“Jordan is spending more on renewable energy, and we encourage people to have more independence with renewables by generating their own electricity to reduce their bills.”

Nevertheless challenges remain when it comes to implementing projects in rural and isolated areas, according to Mustapha Taoumi, a technology expert at the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network. “With regard to issues of power grid and access to the people, we have to prepare for everything and be ready to receive new technology because there are communities with little income and education,” he said.
“Then there is the challenge of implementation on the part of different actors and sectors. Social acceptance is also important as we come with new technologies and (information on) how to use them.
“We have to be innovative when it comes to financing the facilitation process. We have to be fair and democratic,” he said.
Although this is an exciting time for the region, governments will have to step up their efforts since they are still subsidizing the cost of power, Taoumi said.
“Technologies are evolving quickly, so decision-making must keep pace,” he said. “We could end up having smart meters in rural and isolated areas in two to three years.”