While the demand for power globally is projected to grow by 4.3 percent, in the Middle East the expected growth in demand is almost double, as countries like Saudi Arabia record moderate-to-high GDP growth led by infrastructure investments.
According to recent reports, the Kingdom’s power sector investments could reach over SR330 billion to increase generation capacity to 80GW by 2020.
The question is what steps can Saudi Arabia take to meet this growing demand and achieve long-term sustainability in the energy industry.
This challenge becomes all the more relevant in the current social and economic development landscape outlined by the Saudi government as it rolls out massive infrastructure investments in a context of a rapidly growing population putting added pressure on the country’s natural energy resources.
As the demand for energy supplies in the Kingdom rises exponentially, a large part of the solution lies in doing more with less.
It is therefore critical to evaluate how the sector’s efficiencies can be enhanced.
Saudi Arabia is already forging ahead in this direction, and calling for a concerted strategy to meet the growing demand for power and water.
As recently announced, this strategy rests on three pillars: Increasing efficiency in power generation and water production; optimizing the productivity of ageing infrastructure and developing new capacity; and reducing industrial and domestic power and water consumption through promotion of user efficiency and awareness campaigns.
For GE, this is a challenge and opportunity — all the more relevant because the company supports the provision of nearly 50 percent of the Kingdom’s power generation currently through 500 installed GE gas turbines that drive the power plants of industry leaders such as Saudi Electricity Company (SEC).
Over the years, we have been focused on scaling up our technologies.
Our power and water program investments have grown from $500 million in 2005 and are expected to be $1.1 billion by 2013.
These programs are focused on product and technology differentials, tight linkages between technology and business strategy, and innovation — thus enabling us to offer technologies that meet real world needs.
For the Kingdom, scaling up the energy technologies and addressing the growing requirements is not simply about importing technologies. It is about strong public private partnerships that localize global technologies to solve unique local challenges.
An empowered local Saudi technical talent pool will be central to the long-term viability and success of localized solutions.
Now is the time to take public private partnerships to the next level and create a robust local development model, which can drive the efficiencies of the energy sector in the Kingdom.
A key component to overall efficiency is quality, timely and localized service of high technology energy equipment.
We designed our newest energy facility in Saudi Arabia, the GE Energy Manufacturing Technology Center, with these priorities in mind.
However, at the heart of the center’s mission is the advanced Energy Training Center tasked with the development and nurturing of a pool of skilled Saudi technologists who, with the right training, will be able to fully understand and support the energy needs of Saudi Arabia and the region.
Through teaming up with leading technical colleges and universities, The Training Center will produce more than 500 highly skilled Saudi technologists over the next five years.
Centers such as the GE Energy Manufacturing Center one can serve as a springboard for a knowledge-based and knowledge-led economy.
Delivering high technology services for the power, water, oil and gas and other key industries in the Kingdom and region performed by a growing pool of Saudi technical talent is an example of what a successful public private partnership can do.
It is these kinds of partnerships that can complement the Saudi Vision 2020 and create rewarding career opportunities for Saudi Arabian youth.
Successful public-private partnerships can go a long way to meet the region’s growing energy needs and social and economic development goals.
It is up to us in the private sector to respond to the region’s needs with meaningful partnerships for growth.
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