The energy transition is gathering pace, as countries and companies around the world are increasingly switching to more decarbonized energy solutions such as renewables.
This transition will evolve into a transformation, which will see the utilization of new decarbonized energy sources such as green hydrogen, which has usages in a variety of applications from energy production to industrial manufacturing and chemicals production.
But each country or company is at its own starting point and will progress through this transition at different speeds. Each requires its own customized, individualized plan, to effectively navigate the transition and implement these changes.
The energy transition and transformation can appear daunting. On the face of it, it requires a fundamental restructuring of current energy systems and networks. But this isn’t always the case and the benefits significantly outweigh the costs and difficulties.
As part of a recent regional energy conference, Middle East and Africa Energy Week, which Siemens Energy hosted in partnership with Masdar, we condensed the conclusions from the frank and insightful discussions into a list of the 10 key priorities for the successful energy transformation pathway.
These priorities, backed up by quotes from participants at the event, highlight the benefits of the energy transformation and lay the groundwork for what is required:
1. Access to stable, affordable, and sustainable energy supply is a basic human right
“Renewables can improve human welfare in a way not captured by statistics. They can promote social justice, local empowerment and wealth generation, equality and educational opportunities,” Dr. Raja Al Gurg Managing Director, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group
2. Availability of sustainable energy is the foundation for long-term economic prosperity
“Quite simply access to energy gives everyone the opportunity to fulfill their complete and full potential. We take for granted we are all fortunate to have access to reliable energy, to power our lives, from better healthcare and education, clean, prosperous job growth, to sustainable cooling and food security. Access to sustainable clean energy is the key that can help unlock a prosperous future for billions of people.” Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representation of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for all (SEforALL)
3. Bespoke national energy roadmaps are vital to effectively realize the energy transition
“The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2050 and reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70 percent. The UAE is working also to diversify the energy mix through combining renewable, nuclear and clean energy sources to meet the country’s economic requirements.” - H.E. Sharif Al Olama, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy & Industry, UAE
4. Leverage the individual strengths and power of multilateral relationships to accelerate the pace of the energy transition
“As renewables have become cheaper and more versatile, they have found their way into more solutions. We see today electric mobility picking up globally. Energy storage, building infrastructure, they are also making other technologies more viable.” Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO, Masdar
5. Utilizing highly efficient existing technology is paramount to bridge to a zero-carbon world
“The UAE is working also to diversify the energy mix through combining renewable, nuclear and clean energy sources to meet the country’s economic requirements. Though the world relies on energy from hydrocarbon sources, there has been a move to greener and more innovative energy sources. There is a conviction that diversification is key.” H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, UAE
6. The energy system will transform into one integrated ecosystem for all new clean technologies
“Hydrogen allows low carbon energy to move from electricity to many other sectors, including sectors that are hard to decarbonize. Renewables have traditionally been constrained to one geography. We can now integrate renewable energy systems and conventional hydrocarbon systems – a circular carbon economy concept.” Ahmad Al Khowaiter, CTO, Saudi Aramco
7. Highly flexible and reliable transmission and distribution networks will be the intelligent backbone of a de-carbonized energy system
“We are working hard to prepare grid networks to meet the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious targets of generating 30 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2025 and 60 gigawatts by 2030.” Ibrahim Al Jarbou, CEO, National Grid Saudi Arabia
8. Access to capital at reasonable costs will play a critical role in the energy transition
“I think we see some ambitious energy transition agendas in the Middle East and Africa. I think there are ambitious agendas which will make things happen. From our perspective as an ECA [Export Credit Agency], the agenda of the region fits in with Germany. I believe we will see more projects in the region in the coming years and hopefully we will be able to support those.” Edna Schöne, Member of the Board, Euler Hermes
9. Collaboration of strong partners will solve the challenges in financing the energy transition
"Capital markets can reward companies that are taking green technology into consideration, and that can be done through investing in these companies, or even creating a stock exchange that rewards companies that are proactively adopting an ESG [Environmental, Social, Governance] agenda, or a sustainable agenda in the way that they do business.” Badr Al-Olama, Executive Director, Aerospace at Mubadala; Head of Organizing Committee, GMIS
10. Now is the time to act, 2020 marks the year of change in many aspects
“We have a unique opportunity to fast track the energy transition. Covid-19 has dramatically impacted economies around the world. Effort and capital is being directed towards a fast recovery. Uniting, and focusing our efforts, will enable developing and developed countries alike to advance to a prosperous and zero carbon future extremely quickly. Dietmar Siersdorfer, Managing Director, Siemens Energy Middle East and UAE