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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: NEOM’s water and electricity subsidiary ENOWA is taking a proactive role in decreasing the carbon footprint of the energy-intensive desalination process, according to its CEO.
In an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Middle East and North Africa Climate Week forum in Riyadh, Peter Terium said using renewable energy in this industry is a key part of reducing harmful emissions in the region and worldwide.
Terium explained that the process involves managing two key impact components to effectively integrate renewable energy into the process, ensuring it does not heighten the company's carbon footprint.
“The first one, it costs a lot of energy, and if you produce that energy, that electricity from traditional heat sources, it’s not good for your carbon footprint,” Terium said.
He added: “We also need to look at the total water system. A traditional water system anywhere in the world – and Saudi is not an exemption – has huge losses, and leakage globally, at an average of 25 percent, which means if we can reduce the amount of leakage in your water system, I don’t have to desalinate as much.”
During the interview, Terium stressed how NEOM is taking steps to move away from less environmentally friendly wastewater treatment methods, transitioning to more advanced and sustainable practices.
“Wastewater treatment is very important, as it is part of the circular systems,” Terium noted.
He also stated that by 2030, the Kingdom aims to have 50 percent of its energy made from renewable resources.
“In NEOM in ENOWA, by 2030 will have 100 percent of its energy mix coming from renewable resources. So that what we do helps to achieve the 50 percent on Kingdom level,” Terium continued.
Additionally, he expressed his admiration for Saudi Arabia's proactive approach, emphasizing the nation’s action-oriented stance and applauded the Kingdom's dedication to realizing its Vision 2030 goals.
Referring to another example that reflects the Kingdom’s commitment is the Hydrogen Innovation and Development Center announced in April last year.
“We use it to train our people, we use it to do further innovation and development and we use it to make other products that need green hydrogen as an input,” Terium explained.
In March, ENOWA signed an agreement with Air Products Qudra to build, own and operate NEOM’s first hydrogen fueling station.
The project supports the giga-projects’s environmental development goals by providing a large-scale decarbonizing solution and the critical infrastructure for sustainability.
The $500 billion mega-city seeks to transform conventional living and working practices by promoting eco-friendly approaches. Terium stressed that the world requires more forms of energy beyond electricity.
“I think about 20 percent of the global energy mix is in electric energy and you might even expand that in mobility as an example or in heating and cooling but there will remain a very big portion of energy need that cannot be done through electricity,” Terium disclosed.
Meanwhile, speaking during the second day of the event, Roland Kaeppner, executive director of Hydrogen and Green Fuels at ENOWA, shed light on the present landscape of hydrogen usage.
Kaeppner emphasized how hydrogen holds a critical position in the decarbonization journey, with the potential to power vehicles, rockets, and other essential applications.
He also highlighted that approximately 100 million tons of hydrogen globally serve as a vital industrial feedstock, with the refining sector being a primary beneficiary.
“Hydrogen will be part of the solution but it's also part of the problem because of these 100 million tons they are produced from natural gas mostly which means they are emitting about one gigaton of carbon dioxide per year,” he said.
He added: “So, 1 gigaton is about roughly 3 percent of the annual industrial and energy emissions of carbon dioxide – 3 percent doesn’t really sound massive, but it is.”
Held in collaboration with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the MENA Climate Week is a conference that brings together experts and policymakers and allows the Kingdom to highlight its energy transition efforts.
Widely touted as one of the most significant events ahead of the UN climate conference in Dubai, or COP28, this November, the event will allow officials, activists, and scientists to discuss ways to mitigate the effects of global warming.
The Riyadh-hosted event, which will take place from Oct. 8 until Oct. 12, will also offer the Kingdom a chance to show how it is leading the region’s green transition with programs like the Saudi Green Initiative and the adoption of renewables.
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