Mas­dar: Saudi youth sup­port ma­jor in­vest­ment in re­new­able en­ergy

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

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.

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