3 reasons it’s time to decarbonize Egypt
A couple of weeks ago, on Earth Day, I had the pleasure of holding a virtual talk with a group of bright students and professors at the British University in Egypt. We talked about the role decarbonization will play in the energy transition, and how we, at Siemens Energy, are innovating business models and technologies fit to the path of each country we operate in, each at its’ own pace. A topic that I am personally very passionate about!
The genuine curiosity I witnessed throughout the discussion, moved me to jot down my thoughts about a sustainable future that we can all co-create through knowledge sharing and innovations, especially in Egypt, which has already embarked on a set course toward sustainability in the energy sector.
Many claim this year will be different and that we are finally back on track to achieve the net-zero targets set by the Paris Agreement.
The optimism is not completely unfounded. A recent analysis published in the journal ‘Nature’ shows that CO2 emissions decreased daily by 17 percent by April 2020 relative to the mean emissions of 2019. For the first time since the financial crisis in 2010, global CO2 levels had gone down – albeit they went up to record highs the following month. But 2020 was exceptional in all aspects. And unless we plan to take similar drastic measures to balance out emissions, we need to start looking for long-term solutions. Here are my thoughts on why we need to drive decarbonization in Egypt now:
1- We need to change.
“The only constant is change” has never rung truer. Everything around us is changing, but some changes can have irreversible damage if we don’t act in time. A rapid and deep decarbonization of power systems worldwide is required to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, preferably to 1.5 degrees, compared to pre-industrial levels. Energy and industry account for 78.4 % of global greenhouse gas emissions and to truly tackle climate change, we need to slash carbon emissions in both sectors by mid-century. This change is possible, and it needs to be led by the energy and hydrocarbon industries themselves.
We need to change many things if we want to win our fight against climate change and rescue our planet. Mindsets, behaviors and even beliefs. This is by no means an easy feat and might prove to be our biggest battle.
2- The potential is there.
In 2019, Egypt emitted 247 million tons of CO2, thereby ranking 27th among the countries of the world in terms of energy-related CO2 emissions. What these numbers tell us is that there is huge room for development. After all, the nations that have the biggest impact on global emissions will have an even greater impact when they reduce these numbers. And the benefits don’t stop there.
A switch to cleaner energy doesn’t only guarantee a better future for our planet and the environment, it also promises far-reaching economic and societal benefits. There is great potential for creating new job markets and securing long-lasting economic development.IRENA estimates that by 2050, the number of people employed in renewable energy could reach 42 million. To put that in perspective, in 2019 some 11.5 million people were employed worldwide in the renewables sector.
Although to take real actions and deliver tangible results, we need a lot more than potential. We need backing from all the stakeholders. That includes the government, the leaders in energy and transportation, and the individuals themselves. Every single act makes a difference.
3- Gaining momentum.
Renewables are now cheaper than the average cost to operate coal and the average cost to build new natural gas power plants. With renewable energy prices plummeting to record lows in 2020 and decarbonization efforts gaining momentum in Egypt, we need to capitalize on this shift at this moment in time.
I am proud that Siemens Energy was one of the first to do so, starting the journey early on first through the highly efficient Egypt Megaproject combined-cycle power plants that were completed in 2018, and leading up to the Letter of Intent that was signed earlier this year with Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy to begin studies for implementing a pilot project to produce green hydrogen in the country.
We are also working with Turboden to increase GASCO’s Dahshour station compression capacity by 25% without any additional fuel consumption. The project is set to reduce the emission of 120,000 ton of CO2 per year and save more than 65 million of Sm3 of natural gas per year. A great business model that shows that even with traditional energy infrastructure we can still make decarbonization happen.
Decarbonized industries are no longer a preference, but a must. To truly succeed, we need to invest time and effort and gain the necessary expertise. We need to cultivate local talent capable of leading the future of energy in solar, wind and hydrogen. We need to act now. But will these facts be enough to break decades-old convictions?
Managing Director of Siemens Energy in Egypt