The energy landscape in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is faced with a dual challenge. While it is undoubtedly poised for significant change with countries’ decarbonisation drives and planned net zero targets, the region is experiencing a high demand for power over the next few years.
Within this context, the priority is to build sustainable and resilient energy systems for the long term. It’s about futureproofing the region’s energy systems while rising up to the challenge of reducing emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 which was at the top of the COP28 agenda.
To balance these two goals, several emerging trends will influence the development of the region’s power systems in the next few years. We see the potential of hydrogen as rising in the next few years both for use by developers and utilities to generate clean power at scale to meet the surge in demand and by industrials, which are known to be the heaviest emitting sectors.
Hydrogen-ready gas turbines provide the flexibility to ramp up in line with the scaling up in the use of hydrogen.
Energy efficiency has also emerged as a key theme from COP28. It’s important to support power providers in realising ways to maximise their existing assets through converting and upgrading existing power systems to higher efficiency and lower carbon emissions.
Public-private partnerships can further play a key role in supporting projects focused on enhancing energy efficiency.
As an example, Mitsubishi Power’s collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy, to upgrade the Sidi Krisi and El-Atf power plants, a project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), showcases the potential of joint efforts between companies and governments to enhance energy efficiency, enabling Egypt to pursue its ambitious energy transition, while looking forward to becoming a regional hub for decarbonisation using advanced carbon-neutral technologies.
Technology and innovation remain central to the energy transition. One of the main challenges is to ensure that new promising technologies are brought to commercial scale fast enough, thus innovation is key to unlocking the full potential of promising carbon-neutral fuels such as hydrogen across industries.
When it comes to the energy transition, what has transpired over the last few years is that there isn’t a single energy transition roadmap. Each market has unique characteristics, demands, and challenges, and is at different stages in the development of its energy infrastructure.
Therefore, accelerating the energy transition globally requires a localised approach that is rooted in understanding and catering to these specific needs. Furthermore, there is no single technology that will be applicable in all situations; it’s about drawing on the decarbonisation solutions today and customising them to specific market needs.
Green investment and financing are crucial to unlocking the full potential of decarbonisation technologies such as hydrogen.
I am optimistic about the road ahead. Futureproofing the MENA’s energy systems is possible. It will take a relentless commitment to decarbonisation and to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible through innovation and collaboration.
Working together, I am confident that we can build a legacy of energy security and sustainability, where clean and reliable power — a foundational pillar of the region’s continued progress and growth- will be accessible to all.