Universal energy access and biodiversity key part of global power transition: WEF official

Universal energy access and biodiversity key part of global power transition: WEF official
Technology is one of the enablers as the world sails toward a green and sustainable future, according to WEF official Roberto Bocca. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 May 2023

Universal energy access and biodiversity key part of global power transition: WEF official

Universal energy access and biodiversity key part of global power transition: WEF official
  • World will need investments running into trillions of dollars to ensure a smooth energy transition: Roberto Bocca

RIYADH: As the world steadily progresses on its energy transition journey, sustainability must not be the only item on the agenda, a top official at the World Economic Forum has insisted.

During an interview with Arab News, Roberto Bocca, head of energy and materials and a member of the executive committee at the organization, said ensuring energy security is also essential as the world switches from traditional fuels to renewables. 

“On top of sustainability, you have to think also about biodiversity, you have to think of the other dimension of sustainability. That is one thing that needs to be achieved. The other is universal energy access. And the third one is the energy security. That is much more difficult to quantify, but it is clearly one element that is important,” said Bocca. 

The official noted that the world will need investments running into the trillions of dollars in the future to ensure a smooth energy transition.

He also added that the governments will face challenges in the supply of not just oil and gas but also renewables as demand will be sky-high in the coming years. 

“The amount of investment that is needed is really huge. And, we are talking about trillions of investments in years and years to come. And, part of the challenge to achieve (energy transition) is that the demand keeps increasing. We are talking about having an economy that is about double what it is today in terms of GDP (gross domestic product),” Bocca said.

He added: “Let’s say in 2050, we have about double the economy. So, it is really challenging, if we think that we have to have an energy system that is double the one of today, in a world that is much more contained when it comes to resources. And when we talk about resources, we are not talking all about oil and gas or coal. I am talking also about renewables because there is a challenge in getting all materials that are needed.” 

According to Bocca, a complete switch from fossil fuels to renewables is totally unrealistic, and he added that the real problem is not with traditional energy sources, but carbon emissions from those commodities. 

“So, we are fighting carbon emission. We are not fighting any type of energy. I would argue saying all types of energy will be needed. The energy mix of the future is very diversified because anyway, there will be more demand. So, there would be probably nuclear, there would be probably oil, probably gas, maybe still some coal, and definitely renewable. But all of these are important, (and) that we remove as much as possible the emissions because that is the problem for climate,” he noted. 

The official further added that technology is one of the enablers as the world sails toward a green and sustainable future. 

According to Bocca, wise use of advanced technologies like carbon capture and storage could help reduce emissions as a whole. 

When asked about whether nations have set realistic targets for stopping carbon emissions, Bocca said that the materialization of net-zero targets set by various countries will be directly dependent on concrete actions, and he lauded companies like Saudi Arabian Oil Co. for working hard to achieve their goals on time. 

“The feasibility depends on the action. So, definitely, there are some countries that are putting in place plans, and all the companies are putting in place plans. To move from a commitment to a result, you need those plans. You need concrete action to happen,” said Bocca. 

He added: “Some of the executives talking to me from Saudi Aramco, they have a clear plan for 2050 to be net-zero. And as an oil company itself, the biggest company in the world, more than 10 percent of oil production in the world, that is a great commitment. And knowing Saudi Aramco, it will happen, and if anything, maybe even earlier, knowing the capacity and the capability they have of implementing and executing the plans.” 

During a press conference in March, Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told Arab News the energy transition will happen only if the world ensures affordability, security of supplies and sustainability. 

Bocca went on to say that Saudi Arabia’s actions toward sustainability could be a role model for other nations in the world. 

“What I heard, what I have seen, and what I have discussed, I think definitely, the ambition level in Saudi is really very high, and the institutional capacity is very high too. So, hopefully, it will be an example for the rest of the world,” he noted. 

Bocca noted that some countries are lagging behind in the energy transition journey, and they need more plans to be executed and acted upon efficiently. 

He added that the World Economic Forum is coming up with an index on June 26 which will showcase all the progress made by countries in the sustainability journey. 

Bocca also noted that public-private collaboration is very much needed to achieve net-zero targets, and if it is not happening, it will be difficult to achieve these transition goals. 

“What we have to do is really work together. If we do not work as a team, we will never achieve these net-zero (targets) by 2050, because you know, it requires a lot of collaboration; first step, public-private collaboration,” he concluded.

Global Leadership Summit: Top decision-makers discuss real estate trends in Riyadh

Global Leadership Summit: Top decision-makers discuss real estate trends in Riyadh
Updated 28 sec ago

Global Leadership Summit: Top decision-makers discuss real estate trends in Riyadh

Global Leadership Summit: Top decision-makers discuss real estate trends in Riyadh

RIYADH: Real estate leaders and decision-makers from over 110 countries have assembled in Riyadh to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and explore the latest domestic and international developments in the sector.

The International Real Estate Federation’s 42nd edition of the Global Leadership Summit brought together over 30 speakers under the theme “Resilience for Growth,” featuring high-level sessions with keynote presentations and roundtables addressing critical issues affecting the industry.   

Endorsed by FIABCI and organized by the Eyes of Cities, the event is scheduled to run from Dec. 4 to 7 in Riyadh.

Saudi Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majel Al-Hogail used his address to the gatherting to highlight the Kingdom’s pioneering real estate initiatives.

“In Saudi Arabia, we are working to develop two segments. We aim to develop our human (capital) and our real estate. Humans are the building blocks for a great nation and transformation,” Al-Hogail said. 

He further explained that the Kingdom’s human capital serves as a catalyst for the ongoing development and initiatives reshaping the economy. 

“In the heart of this transformation, the Kingdom witnesses a flourishing real estate sector across different projects anticipated on a global level,” the minister added.  

Al-Hogail emphasized that the Kingdom’s ongoing transformative agenda, Vision 2030, is already underway, thanks to grand real estate projects like NEOM, the Line, and Oxagon. 

Furthermore, Mohammad Al-Suliman, the CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Real Estate Registry, highlighted Vision 2030’s impact on the Kingdom’s sector. 

“Vision 2030 is mapping a new era of real estate, which can be navigated by elevating home ownership, achieving investment attractiveness, streamlining digital services, and securing investments,” Al-Suliman said during the event.  

Moreover, Abdullah Al-Hammad, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Real Estate General Authority, shed light on the Kingdom’s approach to boosting its property industry. 

“The Kingdom’s real estate sector holds immense potential, supported by robust legislation and governmental support. This framework, along with the sector’s ability to promptly address challenges, makes it highly promising,” Al-Hammad said.  

During the discussion, other international leaders, including Budiarsa Sastrawinata, the president of FIABCI, highlighted the significant impact of real estate on national development. 

Sastrawinata further applauded the Kingdom’s developments and its hosting of such an event, which is set to bolster investment opportunities and prosperity in the sector. 

Tony Blair, former UK prime minister and founder of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, also highlighted the Kingdom’s developments. 

“Saudi Arabia can become a demonstration of what strong leadership with a clear sense of direction can achieve. The developments here show the potential for real change,” Blair said during the event.  

Closing Bell: Saudi main index loses 48 points to close at 11,144 

Closing Bell: Saudi main index loses 48 points to close at 11,144 
Updated 22 min 29 sec ago

Closing Bell: Saudi main index loses 48 points to close at 11,144 

Closing Bell: Saudi main index loses 48 points to close at 11,144 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index turned red on Tuesday, as it shed 47.56 points, or 0.42 percent, to close at 11,143.83.  

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR5.86 billion ($1.56 billion) as 98 of the stocks advanced, while 119 declined.  

The Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, also slipped with the index shedding 97.22 points to close at 24,003.59.  

The MSCI Tadawul Index edged down by 0.46 percent to close at 1,433.85.  

The top performers on the main index were mainly insurance firms, with the best-performing stock being Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance Co. The company’s share price soared by 9.90 percent to SR15.32. 

Other top performers on the main index were LIVA Insurance Co. and Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. whose share prices surged by 8.56 percent and 8.32 percent, respectively.  

The worst performer of the day was Development Works Food Co., as its share price tumbled by 9.79 percent to SR118.  

Meanwhile, the share price of Riyadh Cement Co., which started its trading on the main market today, went up by 0.14 percent to SR34.85.  

The best performers on the parallel market were Naseej for Technology Co. and Bena Steel Industries Co. whose share prices edged up by 11.86 percent and 8.78 percent, respectively.  

On the announcements front, KEIR International Co. said it has signed a 21-month contract worth SR48 million with National Grid SA to connect Al-Aridh Bulk Supply Point with the 132-kilovolt network in Riyadh.  

According to a Tadawul statement, KEIR International will carry out tasks related to high-voltage 132 kV underground cable installation, station protection, communications, and the implementation of remote-control systems.  

The company further noted that the financial impact of this deal will be visible from the first quarter of 2024 until the fourth quarter of 2025.  

KEIR International added that there are no related parties to the deal.  

ROSHN targets doubling energy efficiency of homes

ROSHN targets doubling energy efficiency of homes
Updated 25 min 12 sec ago

ROSHN targets doubling energy efficiency of homes

ROSHN targets doubling energy efficiency of homes

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s national real estate developer ROSHN is targeting a 50 percent reduction in its homes’ energy bills, according to a company head.

The firm’s Director of Sustainability Waleed Al-Ghamdi spoke with Arab News on the sidelines of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, noting that the company is averaging 18 percent less energy consumption compared to the required building code in the Kingdom.

As a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, the entity has been mandated to develop sustainable urban communities with about 400,000 homes as part of the Vision 2030 plan laid by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Al-Ghamdi said: “Our typical buildings or typical homes that we design, our customers save on average about 18 percent energy compared to the Saudi building code. 

“So, we are above and beyond what the legal requirements are. The same applies to water. The same applies to our accessibility to public spaces and proximity to daily services.” 

To attain a 50 percent decrease goal, the company is facilitating purchasing agreements for new technologies and partnerships while ensuring that the purchasing price for the customer remains unaffected.

The company’s presence at COP28, as part of the region’s delegation, serves as a means to “keep abreast of what is happening on the global scene,” said the director.

“We build communities within existing cities. So our integration is important in addition to scouting and understanding what’s happening with friends and peers and vendors and suppliers, and also being abreast of what the trends are moving forward, specifically when it comes to decarbonization and also financing of those,” Al-Ghamdi added.

The company is mandated to build infrastructure and public amenities alongside the homes within its developments. This leads to a large supply chain that depends significantly on multiple vendors, and enforcing sustainability standards down the supply chain proves to be a challenge, he explained.

“Sustainability in the supply chain is not something easy for any company globally to manage. But one of the ways that we try to manage that is through signing certain partnerships with the suppliers and vendors within the region and helping them improve,” said Al-Ghamdi.

ENOWA to develop world’s first high-voltage smart grid

ENOWA to develop world’s first high-voltage smart grid
Updated 46 min 38 sec ago

ENOWA to develop world’s first high-voltage smart grid

ENOWA to develop world’s first high-voltage smart grid

DUBAI: NEOM’s water and electricity subsidiary ENOWA has developed a blueprint for the world’s first renewable, high-voltage smart grid, Peter Terium, the company’s CEO, told Arab News.

In an interview on the sidelines of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, Terium said that the “grid of microgrids” will allow ENOWA to supply the NEOM region with sizable, 100 percent renewable electricity that simultaneously provides a 50 percent reduction of the corridor footprint.

According to the CEO, the principle of smart grids is simple, as they are traditionally used on a small scale in buildings. However, the sheer size of the development and the scope of coverage needed for the nine to 10 million individuals who will be residing in NEOM adds to the difficulty of the undertaking.

“That’s a huge achievement given it’s the size that makes it complex. You know, one windmill, a refrigerator, and a television are all 100 percent renewable. But a NEOM within the Kingdom that eventually is going to have nine to 10 million inhabitants. That’s very sizable,” Terium said.

In order to ensure minimum disturbance to the natural terrain and minimize visual disruption, the CEO noted that this would require limiting the number of corridors and implementing part of the grid to operate underground.

To achieve 100 percent renewable electricity in NEOM, Terium emphasized the crucial role of an efficient grid, highlighting that individuals often underestimate that all solar and wind farms require connectivity to “bring the electrons to the customer.”

Another key element, the CEO underscored, is storage. In order to ensure the stabilization, backup, and security of its renewable supply, the giga-project is implementing a portfolio of storage solutions.

The development is investing “billions and billions of Saudi riyals” to ensure that its first customers have access to green electricity, sustainable water, and reliable quality electricity through its grid and storage.

“One example is already for sure and we are expanding into the market with that, which is the world’s largest closed-loop pump, hydro storage, and it combines the traditional form of water-based hydro storage, so a small upper lake and a lower lake,” Terium said.

“That has two effects. First of all, it reduces the evaporation of the water. So that’s an economic effect. But the second effect is that it is a great attractor for birds. Birds and wildlife. So we have a major positive solution for storage that is pretty sizable, the largest in the world,” he added.

Considering the challenges ahead, the CEO highlighted that the development isn’t exclusively centered on creating new technologies. Instead, their key focus is to ensure that the electricity supplied to the NEOM region is renewable, dependable, and affordable.

While not entirely cheap, mature large-scale solar and wind technologies remain affordable, underscored Terium, and will thus be primarily implemented into the framework of connectivity used by the futuristic city.

“The NEOM region has a combination of very intensive solar irradiation and very abundant wind profiling — the solar during the day and the wind mainly in the evening. That makes it a perfect combination to take these two cheapest renewable technologies and get as much as possible out of them,” he outlined.

While the existing infrastructure for electricity amounted to half a gigawatt to 1 GW, the company has “ramped that up” to 3 GW with the aim of 5-6 GW in the near future.

According to Terium, the first tenders of solar and wind power plants have already been established, and the large green hydrogen plant being built will amount to 5-6 GW of installed capacity for power generation by the year 2026.

Due to the size of the NEOM development, the executive underscored that ENOWA is currently at about 5 percent completion of its infrastructure, with the goal of accelerating to 10 percent in the coming 12 to 18 months.

He said: “NEOM is going to be a large undertaking. And what we do is build the infrastructure in line with the growth of NEOM. So that’s why the percentage of 5 or 10 percent sounds low, but it is connected to the size, eventually, of NEOM. And then again, five or 10 eventually of a massive undertaking is already a huge project.”

The company is working with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy and collaborating with entities like the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in its energy-centric ventures. Alongside KAUST, ENOWA will be installing the first carbon capture capacity into a gas-fired plant in the Kingdom. The executive said: “That is one example, but there are many other ones and all the institutions that are there in the Kingdom we work with, but also outside of the Kingdom.”

Through collaboration, it hopes to bring some of its ideas on how to scale renewable energy to the region through its renewable energy approaches and Saudi Arabia’s green hydrogen strategy, a part of which is the NEOM green hydrogen plant.

Terium said: “The Kingdom has now embarked upon a hydrogen strategy and a renewable energy strategy, but it may take advantage of some of the lessons learned that we had in the early stage. And we can bring in some of our ideas of how you can do that bigger and at a larger scale.”

What is important, according to the CEO, is that hydrogen needs to reach its customers, and there are more cost-effective solutions than shipping it in the form of ammonia.

Thus the decision to build a pipeline corridor infrastructure to Europe is something “that only a country like Saudi Arabia can do because that’s a job and a size which is even way too big for even NEOM.”

Saudi Arabia, UK ink deal to strengthen marine environmental protection

Saudi Arabia, UK ink deal to strengthen marine environmental protection
Updated 05 December 2023

Saudi Arabia, UK ink deal to strengthen marine environmental protection

Saudi Arabia, UK ink deal to strengthen marine environmental protection

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the UK have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in marine environmental protection. 

The agreement was signed at the Saudi Green Initiative forum on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference on Monday by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and UK’s Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. 

“The MoU promotes cooperation in the field of marine environmental protection according to the available resources of each participant and in line with their respective regulations and legislation in force,” said the Saudi ministry said in a statement. 

Saudi Arabia and the UK will also cooperate in areas which include the protection, monitoring, evaluation, and preservation of the marine environment and its resources, while also ensuring aquatic biodiversity. 

The deal will also see both countries working together to reduce the pollution in Saudi Arabia’s territorial waters. 

According to the MoU, Saudi Arabia and the UK will also cooperate in areas of climate change science and will partner in efforts to strengthen the marine ecosystem in the Kingdom. 

On Dec.1, Saudi Arabia earned a place on the 40-member council of the International Maritime Organization for 2024-2025. 

The Kingdom’s feat of finding a spot in the 40-member council is considered very significant, as IMO is a global maritime authority that sets the international standards designed to ensure the safety and security of maritime transport, reduce pollution from ships, and implement initiatives that help preserve the marine environment and protect nature.

Saudi Arabia’s Transport General Authority said that the selection to the council is the recognition of the initiatives the Kingdom has adopted to protect and preserve the marine environment. 

“The win serves as a confirmation of the Kingdom’s influential position and impact within the (IMO), the significant role of the Saudi naval fleet, ambitious initiatives and projects aligned with the national strategy for transportation and logistical services, and contributions and initiatives in safeguarding the marine environment and empowering seafarers,” TGA said in an X post. 

In August, Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli, Saudi minister of environment, water and agriculture said that the Kingdom is committed to amplifying its efforts to mitigate marine pollution and address ecological concerns faced by the region.