Masdar: Saudi youth support major investment in renewable energy
Ambitious plans set out by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the deployment of renewable energy are strongly aligned with the hopes and ambitions of the country’s young people, according to global research commissioned by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company.
The Masdar Gen Z Global Sustainability Survey*, which spoke to around 5,000 youth aged 18-25 in 20 countries, found that 70 per cent of young Saudi men and women want to see government spending on renewable energy increase to make it more widely available and effective. An additional 71 per cent of those questioned believe that the public and private sectors share equal responsibility for accelerating the adoption of clean technologies. Fittingly, Masdar’s survey correlates with the announcement in 2016 of plans by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for an initial instalment of 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy under its Vision 2030 roadmap, and a near-term goal of 3.45GW outlined in the National Transformation Program 2020 (NTP).
The NTP also set out steps to encourage close collaboration between the public and private sectors in order to enable renewable energy to actively contribute to the national energy mix. Saudi Arabia is sending a major delegation to the World Future Energy Summit, the anchor event of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017, providing an opportunity for widespread industry engagement about its plans. On January 17, an afternoon conference session at the event is devoted to the issues, challenges and opportunities surrounding Saudi Arabia’s transition to adopt more clean energy.
Clean energy ambitions
In focus will be Saudi Arabia’s specific policy and planning priorities for renewable energy articulated in the NTP, as well as the financing strategies and technologies needed to fulfill Saudi Arabia’s clean energy ambitions. Saudi Arabia is expected to tender around 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy projects in the first quarter of 2017 alone, building on the Kingdom’s existing installed capacity of around 25MW.
Besides utility-scale solar power projects, off-grid installations in the industrial and commercial sectors are expected to unlock substantial amounts of renewable energy. “Saudi Arabia is a very attractive market for renewable energy developers and the wider supply chain, so there will be strong interest in their activities at ADSW,” said Bader Al Lamki, Executive Director for Clean Energy at Masdar. “The fact that young people in Saudi Arabia are aligned with the Kingdom’s plans is significant because they represent Saudi Arabia’s future leaders, technical experts and consumers, so they need to be engaged in delivering a sustainable future.”
According to the Masdar Gen Z Global Sustainability Survey, young Saudis outperform their global peers in how they rate their own “green behaviours”; 55 per cent describe themselves as environmentally active or very active. Sustainability issues also influence the spending habits of young Saudis. Over one-third of respondents said they had avoided companies that do not act sustainably in their view.
The survey found that 41 per cent of Saudi youth identify solar power as the most important future energy source for their country, higher than any other energy source. The findings of the Masdar Gen Z Survey will be presented at The Student Exclusive forum, also taking place on January 17 during ADSW.