(MENAFN - Arab News) Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah yesterday promised full government support to industries tapping into alternate sources of energy.
Speaking at the 4th Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Forum at the Asharqia Chamber, he said: "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has put a special focus on alternative energy, and the creation of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) is proof of the government's total commitment."
The minister said creation of new sources of energy will provide fillip to the industries in the Kingdom and will lead to more job opportunities for young men.
"We need to diversify our portfolio, we can't keep depending only on oil, we have to explore new avenues, such as solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, all these will be benefit the public sector and also the private sector," he said.
"By securing additional sources of energy for our nation, we can create thousands of good jobs in energy production, distribution and installation," he said.
Al-Rabiah appreciated the Asharqia's Chamber's initiative of bringing together businesspeople, researchers and experts to discuss the various ways of harnessing renewable energy. "This is the need of the hour because the demand for energy and electricity is going up phenomenally," he said.
He said his ministry was closely coordinating with Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO), Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and the Ministry of Water and Electricity to promote energy efficiency. "We are actively involved in lobbying for efficient air-conditioning and electrical devices because we all need to conserve energy and avoid wastage," he said.
Asharqia Chamber Chairman Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed thanked the minister for his continuous support to the industries. "Here at this forum we focused on the business potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy and their relevance to Saudi Arabia through 360-degree analyzes of the industries," he said.
According to him, the two days saw fruitful discussions among the participants that included high-ranking government officials, renewable energy experts, businessmen and academics.
According to him, there is a dire need to collectively engage research institutions, industries and government entities to streamline and establish the needed policies for the development of renewable energy sources on a national scale.
Khalid M. Al-Sulaiman, vice president for renewable energy at KACARE, delivered a significant presentation on the government's efforts to tap various sources of energy.
"In the coming years, we will see that we have successfully harnessed alternate sources of energy," he said and presented interesting figures on what the scenario will be like in the next decade.
Some of the experts who attended the forum said the Kingdom burns more than a million barrels of oil every day to generate electricity and produce water. They say some of this burning can be stopped through renewable energy. "Saudi Arabia can and should be in the forefront of the alternative energy revolution and become a key player," one of them said.
"We have abundant sunlight and seawater, as well as landscape. We also have the financial resources to support research programs for indigenous technology development," he added.
According to the experts, there is a twofold benefit for the Kingdom to go in for renewables. First, sunlight is readily available across the country, with areas such as the Rub Al-Khali ideal for solar power generation both in days of clear skies and unused area for photovoltaic panels or large arrays of mirrors that concentrate sunlight on a shaft that heats up to generate steam, which in turn is used to power turbines for the generation of electricity.
Turbines turning water into steam also are used for desalination plants to provide potable water.
The second and most important benefit, say experts, is preserving the country's valuable hydrocarbon energy stream for refining into transportation fuels or petrochemical feedstock, both of which can be exported to contribute to the Kingdom's revenue stream.
Among those who took part in the panel discussions yesterday were Abdullah Awadh Al-Qahtani, consultant at KACARE, Omar N. Al-Midani, general manager, Beatona, Louay Abdulrahim, executive director, Azmeel Holding, and Azim Ahmed of National Solar Systems. They focused on services being the critical success factor for the development of renewable energy industry.