(MENAFN - Arab News) The Kingdom plans to invest more than 100 billion over the next 20 years in strategic solar programs in order to diversify its energy mix.
This was stated by Khalid M. Abuleif, adviser to the minister of petroleum and mineral resources and head of the Saudi negotiating team at the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Conference for Climate Change (COP18 " UNFCCC), in the Qatari capital Doha. "Work commences on the first major solar farm early next year as a first step toward a long-term renewable energy strategy Saudi Arabia has put in place," he said.
Following are Abuleif's answers to some of the questions raised by members of the media during the conference:
What is Saudi Arabia doing to reduce carbon emissions?
Saudi Arabia continues to pursue a collaborative approach and is focused on developing low-carbon solutions to today's global energy and climate change challenges. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the Kingdom submitted its green house gas emission inventories in 2005 and 2011.
In these inventories, all emissions were included (industrial and nonindustrial), thus Saudi Arabia is part of this commitment. Saudi Arabia is currently working on a third National Communication initiative, which includes green house gas inventories.
How much are you investingin renewable energy?
Saudi Arabia is investing significantly in renewable energy. Through science and research development, technological innovation and industry partnerships, the Kingdom is building a new generation of sustainable power production capabilities that harness renewable energy to create a reliable, long-term supply of electricity.
The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) is contributing to a sustainable future by developing an alternative energy capacity.
A major plank of KACARE's renewable energy program is the implementation of clean cost-effective solar energy technologies with the aim of helping meet peak demands, especially during the summer months.
The Kingdom has outlined plans to invest over 100 billion over the next 20 years in strategic solar programs in order to take advantage of the country's abundant solar resources and diversify its energy mix. Work commences on the first major solar farm early next year as a first step toward a long-term renewable energy strategy Saudi Arabia has put in place.
Does Saudi Arabia intend to use market mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol or any new regime? What are the benefits for Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia considered market mechanisms such as the CDM (clean development mechanism) a viable option to assist Kyoto Protocol Annex I Parties in meeting their commitments to reduce green house gas emissions.
These mechanisms present opportunities for developing countries to contribute to the international climate change mitigation efforts while benefiting from emission credits that will contribute to their sustainable development efforts.
Saudi Arabia like other developing countries continues to seek win-win opportunities that are in line with its strategy. However, the future of CDM and its associated market beyond 2015 is uncertain, pending the outcome of current negotiations for the post-Kyoto regime.
The expectation is that the new post-Kyoto regime will address the current concerns in a new offset mechanism to encourage stronger participation. In addition, there are various projects that the Kingdom is currently working on, some of these include:
1. Madinah Landfill Gas Capture Project: This project involves waste handling and disposal, and will see the installation of a network of gas extraction wells and pipes on the landfill with the purpose of collecting and draining the gas to newly installed flares for disposal or use for power generation in future.
2. Jeddah Old Landfill: This project involves the installation of landfill gas (LFG) recovery and flaring systems at two landfill sites, which will capture methane emissions, currently released to the atmosphere, and thereby contribute to a reduction in global green house gas emissions.
3. Safaniyah Flare Gas Recovery: This project will see the recovery and utilization of gas from oil wells that would otherwise be flared or vented.
The purpose is to avoid burning the routine/normal daily flare gases produced in the Gas Oil Separation Facility, by recovering it and feeding it into the gas gathering facility directing it to the sales gas grid pipeline, where it will be consumed on-site to fulfill the facility's energy demand.
A number of other schemes and projects are in the pipeline as the Kingdom is serious in investing and exploring various other carbon capture and storage schemes.
Does Saudi Arabia have any plans to introduce carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery?
Saudi Arabia has proven recoverable reserves conservatively estimated at almost 260 billion barrels - about a quarter of the earth's proven reserves and the Kingdom is running water flooding recovery operations with excellent recovery results due to carefully considered and managed reservoir management practices.
Advances in oil recovery technologies such as horizontal and multilateral wells continue to improve the economy of oil production. Consequently, Saudi Arabia does not have any need for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) at production scale for many decades to come.
Yet, the Kingdom's research and development efforts in CO2-EOR or sequestration, which includes a CO2-EOR demonstration project, will contribute to addressing global concerns over climate change challenges.
At what level does Saudi Arabia address climate change?
In addition to all the projects outlined above from solar strategy to carbon capture and storage schemes Saudia Arabia invests heavily in research and technology in order to create solutions for a sustainable future for all.
Saudi Arabia believes a collaborative approach is necessary and is committed to developing lower green house gas solutions to today's global energy and climate change challenges.
The Kingdom participates in international dialogue and in global efforts to foster engagement, cooperation and investments. All sources of energy are needed to meet future demand, and complementary, not competitive, sources of energy, which are environmentally safe and commercially viable, are required.
How can oil-rich nations wean their dependency away from fossil fuels?
Saudi Arabia is focusing on development, economy diversification and management.
Endowed with abundant natural resources including high solar intensity and promising wind and geothermal resources, the King Abdullah Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy, which was established in 2010, is leading the Kingdom's transition to achieve a balanced energy mix in sustainable energy development and management as the Kingdom is advancing its economic diversification efforts.
This includes investing significantly to develop the technology and human capacity required to build an important new economic sector focused on complementary energy (solar and wind).
What does Saudi Arabia think about the fact that the climate change conference is being held in the Gulf for the first time?
Having a crucial conference like this in the Gulf for the first time is a great opportunity to raise awareness in this part of the world on the seriousness of climate change.
It is an opportunity to bring to the forefront the issues that we are all facing and the significance of engaging in international dialogue and global efforts to foster engagement and cooperation.
What is your expectation of the outcome of the Doha conference?
The Kingdom recognizes international dialogue and global efforts and cooperation as well as investments are required for significant progress to take place.
Saudi Arabia's expectations and hopes are that members of the international community find common ground for the solutions being offered on the table.
Saudi Arabia understands the urgency and the need to be proactive while recognizing the varying aspirations and responsibilities of each member country.
Through greater dialogue and closer engagement, the gaps can be narrowed in finding sustainable solutions for everyone.
What are the collaborative environmental measures among the Middle East countries?
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) holds regular joint dialogues and is engaged in several collaborative measures that are concerned with environmental concerns.
The GCC member countries are actively engaged in the region's environment, and focus on socioeconomic development activities related to environmental quality.