Home » Dr. Feras Al-Asali: Middle East Energy is a platform for inspiration and cooperation

Dr. Feras Al-Asali: Middle East Energy is a platform for inspiration and cooperation

by Madaline Dunn

The 49th edition of the Middle East Energy exhibition and conference will commence tomorrow, set to bring together over 40,000 energy professionals to discuss the most pressing issues facing the sector today. This includes achieving energy security and sustainability against a backdrop of rocketing energy demand and an intensifying climate crisis. 

The event is held under the patronage of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure at the Dubai World Trade Centre in the UAE, occupying 14 exhibition halls spread across 28,500 square metres.

The exhibition follows a pledge by 118 countries to triple renewable energy by 2030 at COP28 and the UAE Consensus, which saw countries agree to transition away from fossil fuels for the first time. 

Ahead of the event, ESG Mena spoke with Dr. Feras Al-Asali, Director of the Renewable Energy Center and Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Hashemite University in Jordan. At the event, Dr. Al-Asali is set to lead a session titled: “Analyzing smart grid resilience under cyber-physical threats.”

Dr Al-Asali, what are the most important issues on the agenda at the Middle East Energy exhibition?

The Middle East Energy exhibition is a pioneering and inspiring platform in the energy sector and an important platform for discussing the challenges and developments affecting the future of energy in the region. 

The exhibition is an opportunity to embrace and present the most important paths of technology and innovation in the field of energy, as it displays the latest technological developments that include both traditional energy and renewable energy. 

The exhibition also focuses on sustainability and the environment, addressing ongoing efforts to improve sustainability in the energy sector, including investing in renewable energy technology and promoting energy efficiency.

In addition, the exhibition highlights the engineering and technical challenges facing the energy sector in the region and addresses developments in engineering and technology solutions to deal with them in effective ways. 

Among the important topics that will be presented at the exhibition are the importance of developing smart electrical grids and the challenges and opportunities related to smart grid technology, such as improving the efficiency of energy distribution, reducing energy loss, integrating renewable energy more effectively, improving the network’s response to changing demand, and challenges in the field of securing smart grids against cyber threats.

Tell me about the importance of this year’s event, in light of both intensifying climate change impacts and the pledge to triple renewable energy by 2030.

With increasing global and regional awareness of the repercussions of climate change and the need to shift towards renewable energy sources, the Middle East Energy exhibition 2024 comes as a very important platform for introducing the latest technologies and innovations in the field of renewable energy and promoting their integration into electrical networks. 

The world faces serious challenges due to climate change, which requires adopting serious strategies to reduce emissions and achieve sustainability in the energy sector.

With the goal of tripling renewable energy by 2030, it becomes very important to have a major platform to exchange knowledge and experiences and stimulate investment in this pivotal sector. 

Here is the role of the Middle East Energy exhibition 2024, as it brings together leading companies, those interested and experts in the field of energy to discuss the challenges and opportunities that arise as a result of climate change and market developments. 

The Middle East Energy exhibition 2024 provides a unique platform to display the latest technologies and solutions in the field of renewable energy, as well as to build strong business networks between companies, institutions and entities, government and investors.

In addition, the exhibition contributes to raising awareness of the importance of investing in renewable energy and strengthening strategic partnerships to achieve sustainable goals in this field. 

The Middle East Energy exhibition 2024 is a vital opportunity for participants to contribute to the transition efforts towards a more sustainable future, learn about the latest developments in the renewable energy sector and exchange experiences and knowledge in this vital field.

What are smart electricity networks, why are they important, and what role do they have in confronting various threats?

Smart Grids are advanced electrical power networks that use communications and information technology technologies to improve the efficiency of generating, transmitting, and distributing electrical energy.

Smart grids enable the use of real-time data and automatic control to balance supply and demand and improve service quality for consumers. 

Smart electricity networks are an essential pillar in achieving the transition towards the use of clean and sustainable energy, in light of the increasing challenges facing the world as a result of climate change.

The importance of these networks lies in their vital role in enhancing the efficiency of energy distribution and integrating renewable energy sources into the electrical network, which contributes to improving sustainability in the energy sector. Through real-time data analysis and automatic control techniques, smart grids help improve grid response to changing demand and reduce energy losses. 

It also enhances the network’s ability to adapt to diverse challenges, including cyber threats, climate change and natural disasters, by enhancing cyber security and improving energy management in emergency conditions. 

Accordingly, smart electricity networks play a vital role in achieving sustainable energy goals and facing various energy challenges. They also represent an essential starting point in building a more sustainable and secure energy future.

How is the progress of the energy transition evolving in the Middle East and North Africa region?

The Arab countries and the Middle East and North Africa region are witnessing a gradual shift towards the use of renewable energy, with increasing awareness of the importance of achieving environmental sustainability and diversifying energy sources.

This shift reflects growing interest in solar, wind, nuclear and other renewable energy sources and boosts investment in these sectors. 

Many Arab countries, the Middle East, and the North African region are making great progress in implementing renewable energy projects. Many countries have witnessed the launch of initiatives and policies to promote the use of renewable energy, including encouraging legislation and facilities for investors in this field. 

Arab countries are planning more than 73 gigawatts of renewable energy projects, a more than five-fold increase in current capacity, which, together with operational projects, will represent 91 per cent of the Arab League’s goals for renewable energy in 2030.

Despite the progress achieved, there are challenges that remain that need to be faced in a number of Arab countries, such as the availability of financing, transportation and storage technologies, and political and legislative challenges. 

In addition, achieving the transition towards renewable energy requires international cooperation and commitment from governments and the private sector. For example, only 2 per cent of global investments in renewable energy in the past two decades have been in Africa. 

In general, the transition to renewable energy represents an important opportunity to achieve environmental sustainability and enhance economic and social stability in the Arab countries and the Middle East and North Africa region.

What are the key challenges in realising an entirely renewable energy-powered world?

When looking at transitioning to fully renewable energy, there are several challenges that stand in the way. Among the most important of these challenges are:

1. Economic cost: The economic cost of building renewable energy projects is considered one of the biggest challenges for a number of countries in our region. Although the cost of renewable technologies has decreased in recent years, they still pose a challenge for many countries, especially countries with emerging economies.

2. Storage and distribution challenges: The ability to store and distribute energy effectively represents a major challenge to increasing the integration of renewable energy sources into our networks. A full transition to renewable energy requires the development of robust storage and distribution infrastructure, which requires huge investments and sustainable planning.

3. Technical and technological challenges: There are technical and technological challenges in developing and implementing renewable energy technologies, such as improving the efficiency of solar cells and energy storage technologies and finding technical ways to solve the problems associated with connecting renewable energy sources to the largely existing electrical networks.

4. Political and legal challenges: There are political and legal challenges in some countries in the region to implement policies that support renewable energy, including draft legislation, environmental licenses, and environmental controls, with the inability to develop and modernise the existing infrastructure.

In addition, renewable energy sources are fundamentally variable, being highly dependent on weather conditions. 

It is expected that the increased use of renewable energy will lead to changes in the pattern of supply and demand for energy at the global market level, posing new challenges for the energy industry and the economy in general. 

Facing these challenges requires international cooperation, stimulating innovation, and developing effective policies that support a full transition to renewable energy.

By Hadeer Elhadary, Lead Journalist, ESG Mena – Arabic

You may also like  | About Us | Careers | Privacy & Policy

 © 2024 ESG Mena