RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will continue to lead the global energy transition and become a “centerpiece” in the renewable market, stated the Kingdom’s energy minister during a business gathering in Riyadh.
Addressing the Saudi-EU Investment Forum, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said: “We are focused on attending to the Paris Agreement to the letter while maintaining our commitment to the energy trilemma, which is a sustainable energy system, a sustainable economy, and maintaining our commitment to the issue of climate change.”
The pivotal role of the Kingdom in “greening the world” was further underscored by the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, who described Saudi-EU relations as “very complementary and very important.”
He added: “European Union and Saudi Arabia are very complimentary in what they want to achieve not only in 10 but 20, 30 years — we both want to be climate neutral economy by 2050, we want to make sure that hydrogen will play a very important role in decarbonizing, especially the energy-intensive industry.
“We in the European Union are coming up with a proposed strategy — how to develop and promote these technologies and Saudi Arabia has enormous experience.”
During a panel discussion titled “Clean Energy Transition and Net-Zero Industries” at the investment forum, the CEO of ACWA Power, Marco Arcelli, expressed his belief that “the decarbonization of Europe has to go through Saudi Arabia.”
He added: “It will be done most efficiently through a corridor connecting our two economies.”
Arcelli highlighted ACWA Power’s role in bridging the Kingdom and the EU’s climate initiatives, drawing examples from the company’s utilization of German green hydrogen companies in NEOM to bring forth the world’s biggest hydrogen export project, NEOM Green Hydrogen Co.
In concurrence with the forum’s theme, he added that the Kingdom and ACWA Power are decarbonizing the economies of 14 countries worldwide, thanks to the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
During the panel, both Prince Abdulaziz and the CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Basic Industries Corporation, Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh, outlined the role of the circular carbon economy in paving the way for a global net zero in Europe and the MENA region.
“Especially in Saudi Arabia, for our sustainability and carbon neutrality, the first thing is the carbon circular economy. Saudi Arabia, during the presidency of the G20, announced for the first time the circular carbon economy,” Al-Fageeh said.
He further noted: “We must ensure that carbon is not only reduced, removed, or recycled, but also utilized in a better way.”
During the panel, the CEO emphasized that over the past decade, SABIC has focused on developing carbon capture technology to not only capture CO2 emissions but to utilize and purify them to become a tool for desalination.
He also discussed similar efforts to encourage a circular economy in Europe, adding: “(It’s the) same thing in Europe, where they are taking the waste plastics to try to produce pyrolysis oil that can be used as a fresh material.”
Echoing his call for a just energy transition while unveiling the Kingdom’s new “Empowering Africa” initiative during the Middle East and North Africa Climate Week this month, the Minister of Energy re-instilled that the transition cannot occur without combatting energy poverty.
“Let’s not forget that a third of the world’s population are suffering energy poverty. I am approaching so many companies to have that reality check and more importantly, have that moral commitment, we cannot leave the 2.2 million people behind,” he said.
SABIC’s CEO also reaffirmed the need for collaboration to achieve carbon neutrality: “I can tell you, if we continue to have that divergence between the global south and the global north, this is going to be a big problem,” he said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the forum, Haifa Al-Jedea, ambassador and head of the Saudi mission to the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community, underscored the significance of the circular economy in the Kingdom and the emerging synergies in that sector with the EU.
“It is an important part of the energy transition, and it is something that both Saudi Arabia and the EU see eye-to-eye on. The Kingdom has a very clear vision on how to move and what to do in terms of circular economy,” she added.
“If we are not working together, then this is going to be a big diversion,” he added.