A GREENER FUTURE

Saudi Arabia 2017 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Khalid Al Falih, the Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, on the Kingdom's comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse emissions and promote the renewables sector.

Khalid Al Falih
BIOGRAPHY
Khalid Al Falih is Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources of and chairman of Saudi Aramco. He previously served as Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister and CEO of Aramco. He has also been OPEC Conference President since July 2016. He led Saudi Aramco’s Global Economic & Energy Outlook and served as Senior Project Manager for global energy scenarios at the World Energy Council. Al Falih attended Texas A&M University, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and later pursued an MBA at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

How has the recent restructuring of the Ministry driven your transformation agenda?

Saudi Arabia has witnessed the launch of Vision 2030, a program that aims to make the national economy more diversified, more lively, and capable of growth and sustainability. In the framework of this Vision, the restructuring of many government agencies has taken place, including the Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, which has become a key driver of economy growth, particularly diversification. The Ministry now efficiently orchestrates the three critical components of domestic economy—energy, industry, and mineral resources. This restructuring has allowed us to launch new developments and improvements energetically and quickly, and a number of important tasks have been undertaken, like developing a roadmap for national industry and re-launching the mining and minerals sector through new strategies, while also restructuring the energy sector.

How will the benefits of this economic growth and change be localized?

Local production and participation is key, and developing local content in Saudi Arabia is a clear objective. Local content is a key constituent of Vision 2030, as is the development and training of national human resources. The third principle is the transfer of technology. We aim to make the country the source of cutting-edge technologies, and we have financed research centers like the King Abdulaziz University Center for Science and Technology and King Abdullah University Center for Science and Technology. We expect developers and strategic partners will invest with us in the field of scientific research. Based on what has been achieved here in innovations in various fields, we want Saudi Arabia to become a country that develops and exports advanced technologies in the field of renewable energy production in the medium term.

What role will the expansion of the country's historic role as an energy provider play in the ministry's efforts to accelerate economic growth and promote diversification going forward?

As part of our renewable energy strategy and the diversification of energy resources, which we aim to achieve, we will also seek the development and expansion of gas production in the Kingdom by 2020. This gas production will help to encourage industry as it can be used as a feedstock across a variety of petrochemical processes. We will also be launching a program to include nuclear energy over the next few years in order to have the best and most diverse mix of sustainable energy in the country. This program will contribute heavily to R&D, as well as to various industrial sectors that will support it. The program for renewable energy includes the development and launch of a total of 60 projects that will be implemented over the next seven years, adding an estimated 9.5GW of electric energy produced from purely renewable sources by 2023, thereby bringing the share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix to 10% of total capacity of by 2023. This will help us attain our national goals for renewable energy and will be safeguarded and sustained by national commitments to protect the environment and contribute to the fight against global warming.

What role will the private sector play in the expansion of energy production, and will it take a similar role in other sectors?

As part of our goals for renewable energy in line with Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020, we have set ourselves the task of creating an attractive climate and environment for local and global investors so as to enhance confidence in our economy across all of its sectors. We are working to enhance the participation of the private sector by establishing electricity generation stations with strategic partners from the private sector. This will leverage the unique experience that Saudi Arabia has accrued after having proven its reliability and trustworthiness to investors. Needless to say, the private sector has proven to be capable and adept at establishing and operating these independent stations in the long term.