ACWA Power CEO ‘confident’ of China deal in next few months

Special ACWA Power CEO ‘confident’ of China deal in next few months
ACWA Power CEO Marco Arcelli.
Short Url
Updated 04 December 2023
Follow

ACWA Power CEO ‘confident’ of China deal in next few months

ACWA Power CEO ‘confident’ of China deal in next few months

DUBAI: Energy company ACWA Power is getting closer to securing its first deal in China, the firm’s CEO Marco Arcelli told Arab News on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference. 

The Saudi-based firm has seen its ties with the Asian country grow in 2023, including signing seven cooperation agreements with various Chinese firms in October across multiple sectors, including solar energy, green hydrogen, and water desalination.

Speaking from the COP28 forum in Dubai, Arcelli set out how the expansion into the Chinese market is part of the company’s plan to increase the value of its asset book to $250 billion, as it is develops across Central and East Asia. 

“Right now, the single biggest country is Uzbekistan for the new activity, and all of Central Asia we see coming up with a lot of potential. The next target for us is China. And I am confident that within a few months we will be able to announce the first deal in China,” Arcelli said.  

Elaborating on the recently signed memorandums of agreement with Chinese firms, the CEO highlighted the firm has three main objectives when it comes to expanding into the Asian country.

The first is to keep working with the Chinese in regional and global projects, the second is to expand investments in the country itself, while the third is closer working on research and development.

Arcelli added: “We’re working a lot, particularly in the Shanghai area and with a lot of suppliers. To give you some idea of the activities we are working on. You know that here in the Gulf, temperatures are very high. The efficiency of the solar panels decreases.

“We are working with suppliers on how we can make the panels more suitable for installations to our region. It is going to benefit us, but it is also going to benefit all the industry in the end.” 

He further outlined that ACWA Power is discussing ways for Chinese companies to “localize in Saudi Arabia” by demonstrating the “solid program” they have integrated in the Kingdom.  

According to the CEO, the company is also in talks with other nations from Central Asia in hopes that they will develop the needed equipment locally, thus creating a strong ecosystem for growth in Saudi Arabia. 




ACWA Power signed Memorandums of Understanding with two Chinese firms in Riyadh in September

Outlining the Kingdom’s potential and role within the Saudi renewable sphere, the CEO highlighted that the company will be responsible for delivering the Public Investment Fund program of 70 percent of the renewable energy that will be installed in the country.  

‘‘We have a goal of tripling the size of the company to about $250 billion of assets under management, up from less than $80 billion when I joined at the beginning of the year,’’ said Arcelli. 

The CEO flagged up the Red Sea Global project in Saudi Arabia as one of the key developments it is involved in, and said: “We just completed the first phase of the Red Sea Global, which is going to be one of the best and biggest tourist attractions in the world. 

“We are providing the utilities there to these resorts and that one is 100 percent powered by green electricity. That means not only the power generation, but also the desalination and the wastewater that we are using there. 

“That will go through a process where we are going to create mangrove wetlands so that basically that’s going to be part of the Saudi Green Initiative to plant the 1 billion trees by 2030.’’ 

Arcelli also underscored the various milestones and achievements registered by the company in 2023, saying: “I just joined in March this year. So, I have been here for eight months and the speed of growth and of activity in the company is just phenomenal. In the past eight months, we signed agreements for almost 10 gigawatts of power between Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and other countries.

“We have signed water agreements for 1.4 million cubic meters per day in Saudi Arabia and in the Emirates. We just broke ground this week on the second green hydrogen project that we participate in. All together we are growing in renewables and we’re growing in water by 20 percent this year.”

He also talked up the firm’s position as a “leading player” in the green ammonia industry, and its moves in transitioning facilities away from fossil fuels.

“For instance, recently in the Emirates, we converted a power plant that was built for using coal and we converted it to gas,” he said. 

ACWA Power also converted a water desalination plant that was running on oil to reverse osmosis power by electricity. This has led to a saving of 22 million barrels of oil per year, informed Arcelli. 

Together with the Saudi Electricity Co., ACWA Power has also recently bagged the deal for setting up a 3.6 gigawatts combined cycle plant.  

Like many companies emerging from a legacy of fossil fuels, ACWA Power was “practically producing 100 percent electricity from fossil fuel until six or seven years ago,” said Arcelli. 

Today, 43 percent of the company’s capacity, 53 GW, is coming from renewables, and the CEO expects that number to rise to between 70-80 percent.

As part of its mission to be an enabler of energy transition in countries that primarily only have access to coal or more polluting fuels, the company does not intend to entirely stop working with gas-fired combined cycles, Arcelli said. 

Operating in the Global South, Africa, South East Asia and Central Asia, as it stands, does not allow for a complete, 100 percent transition of the needed energy in the region to renewables. 

“We will do as many renewables as we can and complement that together with the goals and the plans of the local government to some combined cycles. We have a deadline for achieving net zero by 2050. Again, one of the reasons is that there is now a period where gas will still be required there – basically to fuel – but as we continue to add more renewables and more capacity over the long term, that is the goal,” he said.  

ACWA Power is also looking at other emerging dimensions of renewable energy, like the large capacity battery storage. “We believe that as you introduce more renewable energy into a system, the more you need to think about how to stabilize the grid,” Arcelli said.

He added: “There are multiple ways. One is the system itself. So, if you have combined cycles, flexible generation, as we call it, then you can use that as a backup solution in other areas where you are blessed by a lot of sun. 

“One of the greatest technologies is concentrated solar power. We do it here in the Emirates, so we do it in Morocco, we do it in South Africa, and we are exploring other countries.

Arcelli said having “the power of the sun 24 hours a day” would be of huge benefit as he talked up ACWA Power’s battery storage program, which he claimed is equivalent to the whole battery storage capacity installed in all of Europe in 2022. 

For ACWA Power, the biggest such project is the RSG, which has grids that detach themselves from the main grid. Since it is solar, the project needed to have battery storage. Arcelli said that it is a massive 1.2 GWH for 400 megawatts of solar, so that one can have it all the time. 

Arcelli was full of appreciation for the rapid transitions in energy provision being made by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, claiming the two countries are “leading the pack” in the transition. 

“Both have, you know, very significant targets, Saudi Arabia to reach 50:50 renewables and combined cycles by 2030. That’s only seven years away. So that’s a massive programme. And the Emirates, they want to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030,’’ he said. 

He pointed out that ACWA Power was a big player in both countries, adding: “That is how we bring our contribution, by bringing all the technologies and the financing from around the world, choosing the best and applying it so that we can offer the most competitive rates. Europe started really 20 years ago.

"The region here, of course, had abundant fossil resources. So there was maybe not as much urgency 20 years ago as there is today.”

Arcelli continued: “But I see basically all the countries here in the region taking that direction. And as I mentioned, it is just a matter of when, not if. Some started earlier with the visionary leaders that, you know, we were blessed with, and others are certainly coming along very positively.” 

Looking at the state of the global energy businesses, Arcelli said that he felt the industry had taken to renewables as a whole for a variety of factors, but most notably due to its economic reasoning.  

“I think that in power generation I don’t even talk anymore about renewables because that’s what everybody wants to do. The only time where we are not installing renewables is because you need to either grow a lot quickly and so you need also other types of generation or you want to complement your system,” he said.

Arcelli added: “For instance, you may have some solar, some wind, some nuclear, some gas fired generation, but let’s not debate that because renewables are not built by ideology today, they are built because they are the most efficient, they are the most secure, and that they are the most affordable type of energy that you can install.’’ 


China’s used vehicle exports rise exponentially

China’s used vehicle exports rise exponentially
Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

China’s used vehicle exports rise exponentially

China’s used vehicle exports rise exponentially
  • Efforts have been made to streamline export procedures and enhance the used car export industrial framework, signaling the untapped potential within this sector

RIYADH: China has recorded a significant rise in the export of used cars over the last five years, a report in the People’s Daily Online showed.

According to the report, since the inception of a pilot program in 2019 aimed at exporting used automobiles, the number of vehicles dispatched from China witness a rise of over 250 percent in 2022 reaching 69,000 units, a substantial increase from approximately 15,000 units in the previous year. A substantial portion of these exports consists of new energy vehicles with Tianjin municipality, located in North China, being one of the pioneering cities for such exports. 

Enterprises within Tianjin’s Dongjiang bonded zone successfully exported a variety of vehicles, including engineering and commercial vehicles, alongside traditional and new energy passenger cars. Currently, NEVs constitute over 70 percent of the zone’s total used car exports.

The market for China’s used cars has expanded globally, reaching more than 140 countries, as highlighted at the 2023 annual conference of China’s automotive distribution industry. The primary destinations include five Central Asian countries, several African nations, and parts of Southeast Asia. Additionally, Russia has emerged as a key market since 2022.

The Russian market has shown consistent growth, with the European market also gaining momentum amid an energy crisis, leading to a significant increase in exports to both Western and Eastern Europe.

Efforts have been made to streamline export procedures and enhance the used car export industrial framework, signaling the untapped potential within this sector. With 435 million motor vehicles reported on China’s roads in 2023, the need for new markets is evident due to the vast vehicle population and the rapid turnover of cars.

Policy support has played a critical role in the expansion of used car exports. In July 2023, measures to boost automobile consumption were introduced, including incentives for exporting used cars that meet specific quality standards. Subsequent guidelines and support measures were announced, culminating in a notice issued on Feb. 7 to expand used car export operations nationwide.


Number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia hits 4,656

Number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia hits 4,656
Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia hits 4,656

Number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia hits 4,656

RIYADH: The total number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia has reached 4,656 with the addition of 85 new firms in the sector in February, official data showed.

The National Center for Non-Profit Sector also revealed that the total number of volunteers in 2024 reached more than 113,000 across various fields.

The center disclosed that the sector recorded more than 4 million volunteer hours and over 43,000 volunteering prospects.

The surge aligns with the center’s aim to organize, activate, and expand the role of nonprofit sector organizations in different fields.

Moreover, the growth in number confirms NCNPS endeavors to work on integrating government efforts in providing licensing services to these organizations, financial, administrative, and technical supervision of the sector, and increasing coordination and support.

The center also said warnings were issued to 11 civil society entities in 2024. Furthermore, it said one entity was directed to dismiss its board of directors, and two others were instructed to reconstitute their respective board of directors temporarily.

It also urged nonprofit organizations to increase collaboration with the center and compliance with the rules and regulations to ensure increased contribution to the Kingdom’s growth.

In June, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi lauded the Kingdom’s nonprofit sector for its work toward the realization of Saudi Vision 2030 goals.

Al-Rajhi said that the nonprofit sector played a significant role in national development, creating “sustainable impacts” and establishing robust partnerships with community institutions and individuals through the implementation of “many outstanding projects”, SPA said at the time.

Al-Rajhi, who is also chairman of the National Center for Non-Profit Sector, noted at the time that the expedited incorporation process for nonprofit organizations — which takes no more than four days, as opposed to 18 months previously — is “one of the most remarkable accomplishments” in the country’s recent history.


Saudi Arabia extends voluntary oil cut of 1m barrels per day until mid-2024

Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it would extend oil supply cuts through June as part of a bid to stabilize prices. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it would extend oil supply cuts through June as part of a bid to stabilize prices. (Reuters)
Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia extends voluntary oil cut of 1m barrels per day until mid-2024

Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it would extend oil supply cuts through June as part of a bid to stabilize prices. (Reuters)
  • OPEC+ has implemented a series of output cuts since late 2022 to support the market
  • Saudi Arabia’s output will remain at around 9 million bpd

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it would extend oil supply cuts through June as part of a bid to prop up prices.

An Energy Ministry source announced Riyadh “will extend its voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day, which was implemented in July 2023, until the end of the second quarter of 2024,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The decision was taken in coordination with other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, to ensure stability of the global crude markets.

With the extension in the production cuts, Saudi Arabia’s output will remain at around 9 million bpd.

The cuts would be reversed gradually according to market conditions, the SPA said.

Russia will cut oil production and exports by an additional 471,000 bpd in the second quarter, in coordination with some OPEC+ participating countries, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said.

OPEC+ in November agreed to voluntary cuts totaling about 2.2 million bpd for the first quarter, led by Saudi Arabia rolling over its own voluntary cut.

OPEC+ members announce the cuts individually. Kuwait said it would cut its oil output by 135,000 bpd through June, while Algeria will curb its output by 51,000 bpd and Oman will reduce output by 42,000 bpd.

OPEC+ has implemented a series of output cuts since late 2022 to support the market.


Innovative minds descend on Riyadh to explore opportunities in tech sector

Innovative minds descend on Riyadh to explore opportunities in tech sector
Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Innovative minds descend on Riyadh to explore opportunities in tech sector

Innovative minds descend on Riyadh to explore opportunities in tech sector
  • Saudi Arabia is emerging globally as a priority economy, says Tahaluf CEO

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is gearing up for LEAP 2024, the world’s most-attended tech event, from March 4 to 7 at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Center in Malham.

The pre-event gathering on Feb 28 announced this year’s theme as “Into New Worlds,” which encompasses new opportunities, technologies, and capabilities in the tech sector.

The event is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Tahaluf Co., the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones, and the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, also known as Monsha’at.

CEO of Tahaluf Michael Champion told Arab News: “Into New Worlds showcases how technology can bring new horizons to different industries and create new opportunities, much of which we once thought unachievable.”

With artificial intelligence at the heart of LEAP, speakers will discuss its applications and impact, along with other innovations and emerging technologies across the four-day event.

LEAP 2024 will cover various topics across multiple stages, including the investor stage and main stage, with discussions on educational tech, retail tech, and fintech, as well as health tech, the fourth industrial revolution, future energy, and smart cities.

FASTFACTS

  • Over 600 startups and 172,000 people are expected to attend the conference, alongside more than 1,800 global tech exhibitors.
  • The event will feature over 1,000 international and local companies in the technology sector and more than 1,000 expert speakers from 180 countries.
  • LEAP 2024 will cover various topics across multiple stages, including the investor stage and main stage.
  • Discussions will be held on educational tech, retail tech, and fintech, as well as health tech, the fourth industrial revolution, future energy, and smart cities.

Over 600 startups and 172,000 people are expected to attend the conference, alongside more than 1,800 global tech exhibitors, such as Google, Microsoft, and Oracle, as well as Dell, Cisco, and Avaya.

SAP, ServiceNow, and Amazon Web Services will also be represented, alongside IBM, Alibaba, and Huawei.

The event will feature over 1,000 international and local companies in the technology sector and more than 1,000 expert speakers from 180 countries, and to accommodate this the 2024 venue is 170 percent larger than last year’s.

Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Communications and Information Technology Haitham Al-Ohali is looking forward to welcoming thought leaders, influencers, investors, and innovators worldwide to LEAP.

“This edition arrives at a time when variables are accelerating, and generative artificial intelligence is a critical turning point at the economic and social levels,” said Al-Ohali.

Champion told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is emerging globally as a priority economy. For many, traveling to Riyadh will unveil a new world for them.

“We’re getting 70,000 registrations from abroad — business tourists, many of whom have never traveled to the Kingdom before,” said the CEO.

He said attendees can meet with key decision-makers through LEAP and create new partnerships.

Among the most prominent speakers and experts are Vice President & former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane; CEO and President of Ericsson Borje Ekholm; and Chairman and CEO of IBM Arvind Krishna.

Other global figures include Government Chief Data Officer at the Republic of Estonia Ott Velsberg; Chief AI Officer at Schneider Electric Philippe Rambach; President and CEO of Nokia Pekka Lundmark; and Martin Vilig, co-founder of Bolt.

Champion said: “These are massive, global companies and their CEOs are all coming to this event, and I believe this is a real testimony to how important people are seeing Saudi Arabia now as a change-maker when it comes to technology and investments.”

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha said that the third LEAP event will strengthen Saudi Arabia’s position as a hub for innovation and technology, attracting investment to this region.

There will be multiple memorandums of understanding signing stations all over the exhibition to facilitate agreements and deals.

“During LEAP, we announce billions of dollars of projects and significant MoU signings because we take seriously the need to use the event as a platform for business deals to happen,” said Champion.

The 2023 edition of the event saw more than $11 billion worth of deals and agreements reached, and its estimated 172,000 attendees helped cement LEAP as the biggest tech conference in the world.

The event will feature 10 stages discussing various aspects of technology, including health, education, and e-commerce. Among the 10, the main stage sessions will be aired live on LEAP 2024 social media platforms.

LEAP will host the investor stage, where the world’s top investors will discuss innovative investment opportunities. This stage will also address topics such as the intersection of technology with government policies and innovation, and successful financing strategies.

It will also feature the Startup Stage, where expert speakers such as Blossom Accelerator CEO and founder Emon Shakoor, Raiven Capital founding partner Supreet Singh Manchanda, and Adaverse founding partner Vincent Li will discuss startup growth and innovation.

The Rocket Fuel Pitch competition returns for Saudi and foreign startups, with prizes exceeding $1 million. Categories include the LEAP Award, worth $250,000 for the most outstanding startup across the whole competition; the Shooting Star Award, which allocates $150,000 for the early-stage startup beginning its journey; and the Aviatrix Award, which will see $150,000 given to the most innovative startup pioneered by women founders.

The Technology for Humanity Award will also come with a prize of $150,000, this time for the startup that best embodies the “tech for humanity” spirit of LEAP, while another $150,000 is given to the winner of the Into New Worlds Award for the most impressive startup occupying the Metaverse and Web 3.0 space,

The final $150,000 prize is part of the Artificial Intelligence Award for the startup that presents the most exciting, ground-breaking use of AI.

Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones CEO Muteb Al-Qani said that they are keen to present a special experience to the visitors, as we will gather top speakers and tech experts from around the world.

“This event has been created to empower technology globally; therefore, the upcoming edition brings together the largest tech companies, startups, and investors, all under one roof, which has the potential to lead to numerous investments and launches,” he said.


Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,555 

Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,555 
Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,555 

Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,555 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Sunday, losing 75.66 points, or 0.60 percent, to close at 12,555.20. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR8.19 billion ($2.18 billion) as 82 of the stocks advanced, while 134 retreated.   

On the other hand, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu rose 559.57 points, or 2.12 percent, to close at 26,962.39. This comes as 32 of the stocks advanced, while as many as 31 retreated. 

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul Index slipped 14.06 points, or 0.87 percent, to close at 1,609.62. 

The best-performing stock of the day was Al-Rajhi Co. for Cooperative Insurance. The company’s share price surged 9.92 percent to SR93.10.  

Other top performers included Saudi Steel Pipe Co. as well as Middle East Pharmaceutical Industries Co.

Conversely, Mobile Telecommunication Co. Saudi Arabia, also known as Zain KSA, experienced the most significant decline, with its share price dropping by 6.31 percent to SR13.96. Other underperformers in the market were Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. and Hail Cement Co. 

On the announcements front, Arabian Centres Co. has reported the successful completion of the offering of $500 million worth of US dollar-denominated Shariah-compliant sukuk. 

According to a statement from Tadawul, the company anticipates that the issuance will be credit-neutral. The proceeds from the issuance are intended for the refinancing of its 2019 sukuk, set to mature in November 2024. 

With a maturity of five years, the total number of sukuk stands at 2,500 with a par value of $200,000 and a return of 9.5 percent.  

Moreover, Zain KSA has announced its annual consolidated financial results for the year ending Dec. 31.  

A bourse filing revealed that the firm’s net profit reached SR1.26 billion, reflecting a 130 percent surge compared to the same period in 2022.  

The rise is primarily attributed to the company achieving its highest-ever revenues, totaling SR9.9 billion in 2023, marking an 8.9 percent growth compared to 2022. This surge in revenue resulted in a 7 percent increase in the cost of revenue. 

In addition to this, gross profit increased by 10 percent, representing SR541 million, as a result of the growth in the high-margin segments. 

Furthermore, Saudi Real Estate Co. also announced its annual financial results for the year 2023. According to a Tadawul statement, the company’s net profit hit SR67.6 million in the period ending on Dec. 31, down 38.82 percent in comparison to 2022 figures.  

The drop is mainly attributed to an increase in financial charges by SR96 million due to the significant rise in interest rates as well as a climb in net losses in one of the subsidiaries due to the recording of extraordinary losses of SR46 million in one of its projects.