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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 03/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Siemens Energy is a leading supplier of products, services and solutions for power generation in thermal power plants and using renewables, power transmission in grids and for the extraction, processing and transport of oil and gas.Dietmar Siersdorfer, CEO of energy, Siemens Middle East, speaks to Muscat Daily about the company's business and projects in Oman and the GCC and importance and challenges in developing renewable-energy resources. What presence does Siemens Energy enjoy in Oman and how has the market progressed for the firm?Siemens Oman LLC was founded six years ago, but we had been working in the country for a long time. We have been supporting all the industries here, especially the energy sector.In the last six years we have progressed very well. At present, we are working on three power stations in Sohar, Barka and Sur. We have not only started power generation but are also working in the oil and gas industry, for example, deploying services for PDO. We have been supplying to our customers in the sultanate the latest technologies. Siemens Energy has a strong presence in the renewable-energy sector. Which projects are you eyeing in Oman in this sector?We are a large player in the energy industry and also deploy technologies for solar and wind energy projects. In Oman, we are working with the government to develop these kind of projects. But, unfortunately, at the moment no concrete project has materialised. Why is it important for a country like Oman to develop its renewable-energy sector?The diversification of energy sources is the key to future development. The Gulf region has very valuable fossil resources, but it also needs to diversify.Now is the right time to do so and introduce  renewable-energy projects.Nevertheless, you also need to have a mechanism in place for the renewable industry to materialise in future.Earlier this year, a group of German investors announced a US2bn investment to develop solar-energy projects in the sultanate. Are you expecting Siemens to be involved in this  development?We are in contact and working with these people. As I said, renewable energy will definitely play a role here. We are working on this project and we will see how quickly this project can materialise. Siemens has valuable technologies that it can provide for the project. Will you look to participate in other projects in Oman in the near future?There are other conventional-energy projects coming up in Oman and we are looking forward to them. We already provide most of the energy-generation technologies in the country. We are also looking at energy transmission - to help upgrade and build grids.The sultanate is an essential part of our business in the Middle East. With all the government spending on infrastructure our business in Oman is growing. What are the new key technologies Siemens could bring to the Middle East in near future?Energy efficiency is one of the most important focus areas in the region. When you look at the Middle East, many plants are not as efficient as they could be. So to ensure energy efficiency we need to use new and efficient technologies.For example, in Saudi Arabia, the average efficiency in energy generation is in the range of just 30 per cent. But with the latest technologies we can take it up to 60 per cent. So with a same amount of fuel you can double the energy output with new technology.So over a period of time, I think technology needs to be upgraded here. Another focus is efficient power-transmission systems. We are looking forward to help the sultanate in this area as well. What are the major challenges in developing the renewable-energy sector in the GCC?I have spoken to many government officials in the region. In my opinion, it really depends on the interest governments display and the subsidies mechanism.  As I said earlier, fossil energy in the region is too cheap to compete with renewable energy. So governments will have to attach a price to fossil energy or subsidise renewable-energy projects.There are also technological challenges in this region. Although the region is blessed with a lot of sunlight and wind, it also gets a lot of dust and humidity and solar panels will have to be cleaned frequently. The remote areas have very little water and we are working on technologies to clean panels with less or no water.We are working on these issues, but solutions will take time and depend on the partnership with governments in the region.What is your outlook for the renewable-energy sector in the GCC and Oman?Solar and wind energy, in my opinion, are definitely growth areas in the years to come in this part of the world. But to make this happen we need to understand the fact that solar and wind energy have to be priced at equal levels.In many countries in the region fossil fuel or energy is so cheap and renewable energy cannot compete with this. So first of all, we need to bring energy-generation prices down for the renewable-energy sector and Siemens is working on it.Secondly the countries in the Middle East have to attach a price to fossil energy. As long as you do not value the oil and gas that you use in power stations, there cannot be a real comparison between conventional energy and renewable energy. Once the governments do this, renewable energy will kick off more and the sector will contribute more to the total energy-generation capacity.Today the contribution of renewable energy in the Middle East is very little despite good sunlight and good wind spots at many places.


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