Saudi Arabia on course to implement sustainable roadmap for decarbonization
The story of our global energy landscape is a remarkable one, defined by evolving patterns of supply and demand. New energy sources, while vital, cannot drive change unless we judiciously utilize them.
Energy transitions don’t happen overnight; they require considerable time and effort. Significant shifts in the system, history shows us, can take up to six to seven decades.
Thus, achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will necessitate tremendous strides in human ingenuity and technological progress.
Saudi Arabia presents a compelling roadmap for decarbonization, demonstrating a sustainable model for growth. This is particularly noteworthy given the contrast in their strategies compared to numerous other countries.
The Kingdom is poised to seize considerable opportunities to construct a resilient, prosperous and sustainable economy. It has set an ambitious objective to diversify its energy mix and decrease its carbon footprint, aiming to produce 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030.
The country has experienced significant economic growth over the past decades, shifting its economic base and investing robustly in renewable energy sources. The potential for Saudi Arabia, particularly in the domains of solar, nuclear, hydrogen, and wind energy, is vast.
The Kingdom’s transition won’t simply be about swapping the existing system but about creating a new one. Contemporary solutions will address contemporary challenges.
Sustainable economic progress
Innovative and improved energy services are integral to sustainable economic growth. Transforming energy demand towards novel forms of supply can accelerate the path to decarbonization.
Two primary transformations can facilitate the evolution of existing energy services. The first is propelled by technological development and innovation. Modern innovations are largely grounded in three key research areas: digital technologies, nano and biotechnologies, and new energy technologies. These developments are intertwined, each crucial to the others.
Saudi Arabia has already begun this crucial journey, but there’s still much ground to cover. Attaining net-zero emissions by 2060 is a lofty target for Saudi Arabia, but with swift action and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and consumption patterns, it’s achievable
The second transformation is a generational shift already underway. As emerging generations rise to leadership, they will drive global and regional policy changes, reshaping our socioeconomic fabric. This will stimulate further innovations, propelling energy service advancements and continued decarbonization.
Saudi Arabia has launched a series of initiatives to stimulate renewable energy and decrease reliance on oil, such as the National Renewable Energy Program. The NREP aims to add 27.3 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2024, with a final target of 58.7 GW by 2030. The King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative is another ambitious program aiming to provide 10 GW of renewable energy by 2023.
Schneider Electric Sustainability Research Institute’s report suggests 12 energy service transformations to decarbonize Saudi Arabia, including digitalization of living environments, disruptive changes in construction, electrification of mobility and industrial processes, and circularity.
The adoption of modern technologies and consumption patterns can optimize energy intensity levels and contribute to decarbonization of the country’s economy. Notably, distributed generation through electrification is key to optimizing these energy levels.
Decarbonizing Saudi Arabia will require a profound reconfiguration of our energy system, a transformation that goes beyond merely replacing fossil fuels with renewables. It necessitates the reshaping of our energy services to meet the demands of an ever-evolving world.
Saudi Arabia has already begun this crucial journey, but there’s still much ground to cover.
Attaining net-zero emissions by 2060 is a lofty target for Saudi Arabia, but with swift action and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and consumption patterns, it’s achievable. The transition will be challenging, but the potential rewards for the environment, society and the economy are tremendous. The time has come for us to forge ahead towards a future of decarbonization.
• Mohammad Faraj is vice president, digital energy and power products, Schneider Electric.