Saudi Arabia on course to implement sustainable roadmap for decarbonization

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Saudi Arabia on course to implement sustainable roadmap for decarbonization

Saudi Arabia on course to implement sustainable roadmap for decarbonization
Saudi Arabia aims to produce 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030. (AFP file photo)
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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

Mohammad Faraj

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.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view

Record temperatures hit Saudi holy sites during Hajj

Record temperatures hit Saudi holy sites during Hajj
Updated 11 min ago
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Record temperatures hit Saudi holy sites during Hajj

Record temperatures hit Saudi holy sites during Hajj

MAKKAH: The Saudi Health Ministry reported record high temperatures at holy sites during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

Temperatures soared to 51.8 degrees Celsius in the shade at the central area of the Grand Mosque, the ministry said, with Arafat reaching 48 degrees Celsius and Mina and Muzdalifah 46 degrees Celsius.

In response to the extreme heat, the ministry urged pilgrims to minimize sun exposure to avoid heat-related illnesses. The ministry recommended staying hydrated and staying in shaded areas whenever possible.


Global audiences suspicious of AI-powered newsrooms, report finds

Global audiences suspicious of AI-powered newsrooms, report finds
Updated 25 min 24 sec ago
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Global audiences suspicious of AI-powered newsrooms, report finds

Global audiences suspicious of AI-powered newsrooms, report finds
  • Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that people are suspicious of AI creating news content, especially on sensitive subjects like politics
  • Survey also highlights the increasing role of news influencers, stressing the need for better audience engagement within newsrooms

LONDON: Global concerns about the use of AI in news production and misinformation are growing, a report published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found, posing fresh challenges to newsrooms already struggling to engage audiences.
The institute’s annual Digital News Report published on Monday, which this year is based on surveys of nearly 100,000 people across 47 countries, offers a picture of the hurdles news media faces in lifting revenue and sustaining business.
Newsrooms globally are working to address a new challenge with generative artificial intelligence, as tech giants and startups like Google and OpenAI build tools that can offer summaries of information and siphon traffic from news websites.
But the report found that consumers are suspicious about the use of AI to create news content, particularly for sensitive subjects such as politics.
According to the survey, 52 percent of US respondents and 63 percent of UK respondents said they would be uncomfortable with news produced mostly with AI. The report surveyed 2,000 people in each country, noting that respondents were more comfortable with behind-the-scenes uses of AI to make journalists’ work more efficient.
“It was surprising to see the level of suspicion,” said Nic Newman, senior research associate at the Reuters Institute and lead author of the Digital News Report. “People broadly had fears about what might happen to content reliability and trust.”
Concerns about false news content online rose by three percentage points from last year, with 59 percent of survey respondents saying they were worried. This figure was higher in South Africa and the US at 81 percent and 72 percent, respectively, as both countries hold elections this year, the report said.
Another challenge facing news organizations is the general unwillingness of audiences to pay for news subscriptions. Following some growth during the pandemic, 17 percent of respondents across 20 countries said they paid for online news, a figure that has been unchanged for the past three years, the report said.
A significant proportion of news subscribers in the US were also likely to be paying discounted rates due to trials or promotions, with 46 percent paying less than the full price for their subscriptions.

TURNING TO ALTERNATIVES
News influencers are playing a bigger role than mainstream media organizations in delivering the news to users of popular online platforms like TikTok.
In a survey of more than 5,600 TikTok users who said they used the app for news, 57 percent said they mostly paid attention to individual personalities, versus 34 percent who said they mainly followed journalists or news brands.
The findings show that newsrooms need to build a direct relationship with their audiences while also “strategically using the platforms to connect with people who are trickier to reach, like younger audiences,” Newman said. “We see that these influencers have a bigger role on the platforms.”
Vitus “V” Spehar, a TikTok creator with 3.1 million followers, was one news personality cited by some of the survey respondents. Spehar has become known for their unique style of delivering the top headlines of the day while laying on the floor under their desk, which they previously told Reuters is intended to offer a more gentle perspective on current events and contrast with a traditional news anchor who sits at a desk.
The Digital News Report surveyed people in the US, UK, France, Argentina and Brazil, asking them to name up to three mainstream or alternative accounts they follow for the news.
The top 10 individuals cited by respondents in the US are most known for offering political commentary rather than original newsgathering, the report noted. These personalities included Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News anchor, Joe Rogan, who hosts the top podcast on Spotify and David Pakman, a progressive talk radio host.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is funded by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Thomson Reuters.


Clean energy investments crucial for Africa’s sustainable economic growth: IEA

Clean energy investments crucial for Africa’s sustainable economic growth: IEA
Updated 51 min 36 sec ago
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Clean energy investments crucial for Africa’s sustainable economic growth: IEA

Clean energy investments crucial for Africa’s sustainable economic growth: IEA

RIYADH: Africa’s rising energy demand requires substantial investments in clean power projects, which is crucial for the continent’s sustainable economic growth, an analysis revealed.

In its latest report, the International Energy Agency said that Africa’s aspiration for greater economic and social development depends on access to a affordable, reliable, modern and sustainable supply of power. 

According to IEA, meeting the growing energy demand from African countries requires a more than doubling of annual investments to over $240 billion in the sector by 2030, of which three-quarters of the funds needs to be focused on clean technology. 

The organization also called for “swift action to tackle financial barriers so investment can reach the levels that are needed.”

IEA highlighted that $22 billion is required from 2023 to 2030 to connect all African homes and businesses to electricity, while $4 billion per year is needed to provide clean cooking solutions. 

“The lack of energy access in Africa is a great injustice, but increased spending on impactful projects could quickly turn the tide,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of IEA. 

Africa’s energy concerns

According to the agency, Africa remains energy-poor despite holding significant resources. 

The report highlighted that around 600 million Africans still lack access to electricity and more than 1 billion still cook their meals over open fires and traditional stoves using wood, charcoal, kerosene, coal and animal waste. 

The analysis suggested that the consequences of this lack of energy supply are dire in terms of health, education, climate, and economic and social development, with many of these impacts disproportionally affecting women and children in the continent. 

“There are also affordability challenges to consider; only half of households without electricity access today would be able to afford basic energy services without additional financial support, and even fewer would be able to afford modern cooking solutions,” said the report. 

It added: “A lack of reliable and affordable energy restrains Africa’s farmers from higher productivity; hinders industry, where energy prices and affordability remain key determinants in competitiveness; and limits the ability of countries to attract and cultivate new sectors of their economies.” 

Moreover, although Africa accounts for around 20 percent of the world’s population, it attracts less than 3 percent of energy spending. 

The study highlighted that investments in the energy sector on the continent have been falling since its peak in 2014 and are currently down 34 percent.

“Increasing investment in domestic energy systems faces hurdles, notably a shortage of bankable projects and the high cost of capital, which can be two to three times higher for renewable projects in Africa than in advanced economies,” said IEA.  

More than 1 billion Africans still cook their meals over open fires and traditional stoves. Shutterstock

Expansion of electricity holds the key

According to the report, around half of the energy funding required in Africa by 2030 is needed in electricity, where policies play a key role in attracting more investment. 

“Total electricity sector investment increases from just under $30 billion in 2022 to more than $120 billion in 2030 in the Sustainable Africa Scenario, with around 50 percent going toward renewable generation alone,” added the report. 

IEA further noted that Africa is home to the most cost-competitive green energy outlets in the world, with 60 percent of the best solar resources globally, and many countries on the continent have high-potential hydropower, geothermal, and wind resources.

The release noted that utility-scale renewable energy projects have found a foothold in African markets, where around 80 percent of clean projects by volume have reached investment decisions in the last five years. 

New industries to propel Africa’s energy sector 

The report projected that new industries, including those related to clean technologies, can support Africa’s growing energy sector. 

“Developing industry goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of Africa’s energy system. By 2030, Africa is projected to build more floor area than exists in Japan and Korea today,” said IEA. 

It added: “Accordingly, demand for steel and cement is set to grow considerably from today’s levels, alongside rising demand for irrigation pumps, cold chains, data centers and mining.” 

The analysis further highlighted that mineral exploration, and the manufacturing of clean energy technologies present practical opportunities to cultivate a growing industrial base in the continent. 

The report revealed that revenues from the production of copper and key battery metals in Africa are already estimated to be more than $20 billion annually, and with the current pipeline, the market value of this sector is expected to increase by 65 percent by the end of this decade. 

Additionally, if all initiatives under the pipeline come to fruition, low-emissions hydrogen production from announced electrolyzer projects in Africa could reach 2 tonnes by 2030. 

“Investments in these fast-growing sectors can help diversify global supply chains and reduce import burdens for Africa,” said IEA. 

It added: “If well-designed, these projects could also be powered by energy investments that serve Africa’s wider domestic energy needs and ensure their development creates jobs, supports local communities, and meets important health, safety, and labor criteria.” 

The analysis also underscored the importance of private sector involvement in ensuring Africa’s energy security. 

According to IEA, private sector spending needs to grow 2.5 times between 2022 and 2030 to meet Africa’s energy investment needs. 

“In the Sustainable Africa Scenario, $190 billion of private capital is required by 2030, growing from around $75 billion today,” said IEA. 

The study further noted that concessional capital from international sources will play a key role in mobilizing this increase, with an estimated $30 billion per year for clean energy projects required to mobilize commercial funding over the 2023 to 2030 period. 


Pilgrims cast stones at Jamarat on first day of Tashreeq

Pilgrims cast stones at Jamarat on first day of Tashreeq
Updated 17 June 2024
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Pilgrims cast stones at Jamarat on first day of Tashreeq

Pilgrims cast stones at Jamarat on first day of Tashreeq
  • Designated pathways across the various floors of the Jamarat facility ensure a smooth flow of pilgrims and ease crowd management

MINA: Hajj pilgrims began the ritual stoning of the devil, throwing pebbles at the Jamarat, three stone pillars, on the first day of Tashreeq, which also coincides with the second day of Eid Al-Adha.

The ritual stoning began with Jamarat Al-Oula (the small pillar), continuing with Jamarat Al-Wusta (the middle pillar) and finally Jamarat Al-Aqaba (the large pillar), following in the Prophet Muhammad’s footsteps, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Numerous designated pathways across the various floors of the Jamarat facility ensured a smooth flow of pilgrims and eased crowd management. The innovative, multilevel structure was engineered to distribute pilgrims efficiently during the throwing ritual.

Pedestrian bridges connect the Jamarat to the Al-Mashaaer Al-Mugaddassah Metro Line and surrounding pilgrim camps in Mina, allowing for safe and convenient movement, SPA reported.


Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says

Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says
Updated 17 June 2024
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Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says

Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says
  • Norway chairs the international donor group to the Palestinians and is a backer of the Palestinian Authority

OSLO: The Palestinian Authority could collapse in the coming months, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said on Monday, citing a lack of funding, continuing violence and the fact that half a million Palestinians are not allowed to work in Israel.
“The Palestinian Authority, with whom we work closely, are warning us that they might be collapsing this summer,” Barth Eide said.
Norway chairs the international donor group to the Palestinians and is a backer of the PA.