Energy transition: Algeria goes green

Energy transition: Algeria goes green
The vast areas of the Algerian Sahara lend themselves to the production of solar energy. (Photo, AFP)(AFP/File)
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Updated 18 November 2021

Energy transition: Algeria goes green

Energy transition: Algeria goes green
  • In Algeria, renewable energy only represents only 3% of the energy mix
  • Algeria hopes to sell hydrogen instead of natural gas to Spain and Italy starting 2030, using the same pipelines

ALGIERS: Algeria has expressed a determination to become a platform for energy transition. How can it meet this challenge and what could be its strategy to get out of its current almost total dependence on fossil fuels?

Before answering these two questions, it is necessary to recall that 97 percent of this country’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, the vast majority from gas.

On one hand, there is the need to resort to renewable energies — the sooner the better. On the other hand, the production of energy by solar, wind and other resources that are both “clean” and “environmentally friendly” is currently very low, which shows the enormous task that lies ahead.

To this end, the Algerian state has developed an energy transition strategy and an ambitious development program involving to renewable energies and energy efficiency, which must be completed in 2030.

The vast areas of the Algerian Sahara that have maximum sunshine lend themselves well to the production of solar energy, as an inexhaustible energy potential to produce around 3,000 kWh per square meter, according to forecasts.

The priority is therefore to make the most of the energy potential available in the country. The Algerian government is counting on a program with a capacity of 15,000 megawatts (MW) by 2035. The country is now considering bids for solar photovoltaic plants to produce electricity. The Algerian government is doing everything in its power to improve the business climate for both local and foreign investors.

Green hydrogen is another energy trend which will make it possible to achieve the objectives set out by COP26. Capable of compensating for the irregularity of renewable energies, green hydrogen represents invaluable economic potential, particularly for the industrial sector, and on the long run, for the residential sector.

The national plan for the production of green hydrogen, which is obtained by the electrolysis of water, was approved last May. It includes the launch of market studies, development and regulations. Algeria hopes to sell hydrogen instead of natural gas to Spain and Italy starting 2030, using the same pipelines.

Dr. Nadjib Drouiche, a researcher at the Semiconductor Technology Research Center for Energy Energy (CRTSE), told Arab News en Francais that Algeria is well off and has all the assets to succeed in this leap forward in energy transition. He said that there are already four production sites for green hydrogen, in steel complexes such as El-Hadjar (Annaba) or glass factories such as Larbaa (Blida).

Around 20 million tons of CO2 are generated annually by Algerian cars. To encourage a transition toward electric cars, the import of hybrid vehicles is now prioritised.

The Minister of Energy Transition and Renewable Energies, Benattou Ziane, said: “Many mechanical workshops already practice a technique called ‘retrofitting’ [renovation of equipment], which consists of an electrical conversion. It is a question of equipping any type of vehicle (heat, gasoline or diesel engine) with electric energy.”

In terms of intermediate solutions, a program dedicated to the conversion of fuel modes in the transport sector is included in the government’s action plan. In 2021, 150,000 vehicles were using LPG, whether individuals, taxis or public administrations.

Algeria is committed, under the terms of the Paris agreement, to reduce carbon emissions by 7 percent by the year 2030. It could reach a 22 percent target if the country manages to obtain financial and technological assistance. Will Algeria succeed in becoming the African Eldorado of renewable energies? Only time will tell.

This story was originally published in French on Arab News en Français

 


Death of US embassy employee in Houthi detention sparks outrage

Death of US embassy employee in Houthi detention sparks outrage
Updated 26 May 2022

Death of US embassy employee in Houthi detention sparks outrage

Death of US embassy employee in Houthi detention sparks outrage
  • The US embassy said that Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, one of its staff members in the Yemeni capital, who was abducted by the Houthis, had died in Houthi detention
  • Al-Ajami was among at least a dozen Yemeni workers at the embassy, and USAID, who were abducted and later forcibly disappeared

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis have again been criticized for mistreating prisoners after an employee at a US aid organization in Yemen died while being held by the group.

The US embassy in Sanaa said on Thursday that Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, one of its staff members in the Yemeni capital who was abducted by the Houthis late last year, had died in Houthi detention.

In a statement, also calling for the release of the other workers detained by the Houthis, the embassy said: “We grieve for retired USAID (US Agency for International Development) employee Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, who died in Houthi captivity.

“He was an innocent grandfather who should never have died away from his family, a proud Yemeni dedicated to educating Yemeni children.

“We extend our condolences to his loved ones and call on the Houthis to end this injustice and release every single current and former US Embassy employee now.”

Al-Ajami was among at least a dozen Yemeni workers at the embassy and USAID who were abducted and later forcibly disappeared after the militia group raided the embassy’s compound.

Yemeni activists and local media reports said that Al-Ajami was brutally tortured by the Houthis and was denied life-saving mediation, a move that led to his death.

Al-Ajami’s death came as friends of another US embassy abductee, Bassam Al-Mardahi, warned that he could die too, as he was in a critical condition due to torture by his captors.

Yemeni government officials, human rights activists, and former abductees strongly condemned the Houthis for abusing prisoners, stating that the death of Al-Ajami was another clue to the torture methods used by the group against thousands of prisoners.

Yemen’s Minister of Information Muammar Al-Eryani offered his condolences to Al-Ajami’s family and called for international action to force the Houthis to stop abusing prisoners and release them immediately.

He expressed his strong condemnation of the group’s “psychological and physical torture” of Al-Ajami, treatment, the minister said, that had resulted in his death eight months after being abducted, adding that he had been deprived “of his most basic rights, including medicines.”

The French Embassy in Yemen also denounced the death and asked the Houthis to release the remaining abducted US and UN workers.

In a tweet, the embassy said: “It reiterated its demand for the release of all local employees of the US embassy and the UN who have been arbitrarily detained by the Houthis for several months.”

The Houthis are also still holding two Yemenis working for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sanaa who were abducted in the city in November. The two workers have not been put on trial and the Houthis have prevented them from contacting their families, the UN said.

Similarly, Yemeni human rights activists said that torture was rife inside Houthi prisons and dozens of civilians abducted by the group had died while in detention.

Fuad Al-Mansouri, a Yemeni human rights activist, told Arab News that many detainees inside Houthi prisons may face the same fate as Al-Ajami if the Houthis were not forced to stop abusing prisoners.

“Al-Ajami’s death is a very serious indication of the mistreatment of detainees in the prisons of the Houthi militia. This is not the first incident, and it will not be the last,” Al-Mansouri said.

Amat Al-Salam Al-Hajj, chairwoman of the Abductees’ Mothers Association, an umbrella organization for thousands of female relatives of war prisoners, told Arab News that the Houthis had barred relatives of the detained US embassy employees from speaking to the organization or media, urging the UN Yemen envoy to work on releasing thousands of detainees.

“In Houthi prisons, the dignity of the Yemeni human being is insulted. The file of the abductee is a true humanitarian crisis that must be addressed,” she said.

Abdullah Al-Munifi, a Yemeni journalist and former detainee who was released from a Houthi prison in 2018, told Arab News that he was whipped with electrical cables, hung by his arms, deprived of sleep and toilet facilities, electrocuted, and kept in solitary confinement for months.

“I wish I would die due to torture. Sometimes they make wounds on the body and put salt on them,” Al-Munifi said.


Europe ‘silent’ on ‘deplorable conditions’ for migrants in Libya: NGO chief

Europe ‘silent’ on ‘deplorable conditions’ for migrants in Libya: NGO chief
Updated 26 May 2022

Europe ‘silent’ on ‘deplorable conditions’ for migrants in Libya: NGO chief

Europe ‘silent’ on ‘deplorable conditions’ for migrants in Libya: NGO chief
  • IOM Chief of Mission Federico Soda: ‘On a number of issues in the country, we (the IOM) are the only voice; that’s problematic; what concerns me is kind of the acquiescence’
  • A recent IOM report found that a record 32,425 people were returned to Libya after trying to travel to Europe last year

LONDON: Europe has failed to note and act on the plight of thousands of migrants in Libya who are being held in “deplorable conditions” and often under arbitrary detention, an international NGO chief has said.

Federico Soda, chief of mission for the International Organization for Migration’s presence in Libya, said too little is being done to have an effect on the country’s “environment of arbitrary detention and deplorable conditions” for migrants.

“Most member states are silent on these issues in Libya,” Soda told reporters in Brussels. “On a number of issues in the country, we (the IOM) are the only voice. That’s problematic. What concerns me is kind of the acquiescence.”

He described the attitude prevalent in Europe as: “‘It’s not a problem on our shore, so let’s just keep it there’.”

Soda said the international community should dish out “more condemnation” and demand “more calls for law and order for investigations” into the situation in Libya.

A recent IOM report found that a record 32,425 people were returned to Libya after trying to travel to Europe last year.

The majority were intercepted or rescued from the often unsafe small boats they travel in across the Mediterranean Sea.

Soda said the issue is society-wide, with multiple groups guilty of allowing the crisis to continue.

“It’s not about elected people; I think the whole of the community has a responsibility here, because when societies becomes as polarized as we’ve been on migration issues, I think we all have to look in the mirror and maybe put ourselves in the shoes and the conditions of where these people are coming from,” he added.


Yemen government, Houthis begin Amman talks on ending Taiz siege 

Yemen government, Houthis begin Amman talks on ending Taiz siege 
Updated 26 May 2022

Yemen government, Houthis begin Amman talks on ending Taiz siege 

Yemen government, Houthis begin Amman talks on ending Taiz siege 
  • Desperate civilians hold rallies protesting the Houthi siege, calling for action from international community

AL-MUKALLA: Discussions between the Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthis on opening roads in the city of Taiz and other provinces started on Wednesday as thousands gathered in the streets of Taiz to demand an immediate end to the Houthis’ siege. 

Hans Grundberg, the UN’s Yemen envoy, said his office would sponsor the meeting between both sides in the Jordanian capital to discuss opening roads in Taiz and the provinces as part of the two-month truce.

“The meeting between Government of Yemen & Ansar Allah representatives on opening roads in #Taiz & other governorates as per the truce agreement starts today in Amman under the auspices of the UN Envoy for #Yemen,” Grundberg tweeted, using the official name of the Houthis.

The Yemeni government delegation said they held a meeting with Grundberg shortly after landing in Amman, adding that they might engage in direct talks with the Houthis over the coming days. 

“We would be pushing for opening roads to pre-war time and resuming the flow of water and power supplies to the city,” Ali Al-Ajar, a member of the government delegation, told Arab News by telephone from Amman. 

The truce, which came into effect on April 2 and is the longest since the beginning of the war, called for a pause in fighting on all fronts, resuming flights from Sanaa airport, allowing fuel ships to enter Hodeidah port and forming a joint committee to discuss opening roads in Taiz, Abyan, Al-Bayda, Marib and the other provinces. 

The meeting was delayed many times as the Houthis refused to name their representatives, despite constant demands from international mediators. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of citizens rallied in the streets of Taiz on Wednesday to demand international action to force the Houthis to end their siege on the city. 

The protesters carried posters and slogans demanding action from Yemeni negotiators in Amman, the UN Yemen envoy and the international community in ending the siege that has cut off the city from the rest of the country. 

“The complete lifting of the siege is an inalienable human right,” read one of the posters. 

This week, people in Taiz challenged the Houthi siege by arranging rallies near the heavily mined checkpoints on the edges of the city, drawing attention to their suffering under the siege. These rallies are rare and reflect the desperation felt by the people living under siege.

During the past seven years, the Houthis have blocked the city’s main entrances and roads that link it with Sanaa, Hodeidah and Aden. The Iran-backed terrorists have planted landmines and deployed snipers in the surrounding areas after failing to seize control of the city’s downtown due to resistance from government troops. 

The siege has pushed thousands of people into famine as the Houthis prevent aid and vital goods from reaching the city, forcing people into using dangerous mountain roads. 

Mohammed Al-Mekhlafi, a Yemeni political analyst, criticized the international community for not mounting enough pressure on the Houthis to lift the siege on Taiz as they did with the Yemeni government and the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen over Sanaa airport and Hodeidah port. 

“The UN and the international community did not use serious and active pressure on the Houthis to open humanitarian corridors in Taiz. The Houthis got many concessions concerning Sanaa airport and Hodeidah seaport without offering anything in return,” Al-Mekhlafi told Arab News.

The Houthis, who usually deny that they are laying a siege on Taiz, said on Tuesday that they closed some roads in Taiz to protect people from clashes. 

“The procedures in Taiz were imposed following military necessities to preserve the lives of citizens,” said Abdul Malik Al-Ajri, a Houthi negotiator, according to the Houthi media. He said the movement has not discussed the truce extension with the UN. 


Slain IRGC officer headed assassination unit: Report

Slain IRGC officer headed assassination unit: Report
No one has taken responsibility for Khodaei’s death. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 May 2022

Slain IRGC officer headed assassination unit: Report

Slain IRGC officer headed assassination unit: Report
  • Hassan Sayyad Khodaei planned kidnappings, killings for Quds Force Unit 840: WSJ
  • Targets included Israeli diplomat, American general, French intellectual

LONDON: An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer killed outside his home in Tehran on Sunday is thought to have been responsible for the group’s assassination unit, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper reported that Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei planned kidnappings and killings for Quds Force Unit 840, including recent failed plots against an Israeli diplomat, an American general and a French intellectual.  

Some of those the WSJ cited questioned whether any of the operations planned by Khodaei had been successful, noting that he was also tied to a foiled plot to murder an Israeli businessman in Cyprus last year, which led to the arrest of an Azerbaijani national.

No one has taken responsibility for Khodaei’s death, but Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi appeared to blame the US when he referred to the role of the “global arrogance” — a term applied to America — in the killing during a televised statement.

“I have no doubt that revenge for the pure blood of this martyr on the hands of the criminals is inevitable,” he added.

Israel warned that it would respond to acts of Iranian aggression abroad inside Iran, the WSJ reported.


Iran says ‘accident’ near Tehran was at defense research unit

Iran says ‘accident’ near Tehran was at defense research unit
One person has been killed in an “industrial accident” near an Iranian military complex. (Shutterstock)
Updated 26 May 2022

Iran says ‘accident’ near Tehran was at defense research unit

Iran says ‘accident’ near Tehran was at defense research unit
  • One person has been killed in an “industrial accident” near an Iranian military complex, according to state media
  • It gave no details of the cause of the accident.

TEHRAN: Iran’s defense ministry said Thursday that an “accident” in the Parchin area near Tehran, happened at one of its “research units,” and killed one “engineer” and injured another.
“On Wednesday evening, in an accident that took place in one of the research units of the defense ministry in the Parchin area, engineer Ehsan Ghad Beigi was martyred and one of his colleagues injured,” the ministry said.
State media had earlier reported one person killed in an “industrial accident” near the Parchin military complex, which has previously come under scrutiny by the UN nuclear watchdog.
The Parchin complex, southeast of Tehran, is alleged to have hosted past testing of conventional explosives that could be used to detonate a nuclear warhead, something Iran has repeatedly denied.
The site came under renewed scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2015 when Tehran reached a landmark deal with major powers under which it agreed to curb its nuclear activities under UN supervision in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
Iran had previously denied the IAEA access to Parchin, insisting it was a military site unrelated to any nuclear activities, but the agency’s then chief, the late Yukiya Amano, paid a visit.
In June 2020, a gas tank explosion in a “public area” near the complex shook the capital, 30 kilometers (20 miles) away, but caused no casualties, the defense ministry said at the time.
Iran’s nuclear program has been the target of a campaign of sabotage, cyberattacks and assassinations of key scientists that it has blamed on arch foe Israel.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly refused to rule out military action to prevent Iran developing an atomic bomb.
Iran has consistently denied any ambition to develop a nuclear weapon, insisting its activities are entirely peaceful.