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The Fifth Fuel

The writing on the wall is clear. Higher domestic consumption of crude oil means fewer barrels to sell

| | Mar 20, 2011 | 2:02 pm
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B Surendar

B Surendar

Saudi Arabia, according to a recent Reuters report, at more than 260 billion barrels, has a fifth of the world’s stock of recoverable crude oil, and when viewed from that perspective, has the wherewithal to meet its power needs. However, the Kingdom is confronted with soaring domestic energy use. In 2010, it consumed 40 gigawatts of power; that figure, according to the report, is expected to triple by 2032.

That kind of expansion, the report says, could see the country consume all of the roughly eight million barrels per day that it produces. Right now, out of the eight million barrels a day, over three million are consumed domestically, mainly for generating power. That figure is growing eight per cent per annum, the report said.

The writing on the wall is clear. Higher domestic consumption of crude oil means fewer barrels to sell.

From that perspective, Saudi Arabia is highly motivated in its search for renewable sources of power, especially solar. The kingdom enjoys bright sunshine for a large part of the year and is ideally poised to exploit this natural feature, but first it – and for that matter, the world – needs to address the several technological challenges involved in the harnessing of energy from the sun. There is no clear indication how long it will take for the world to benefit from solar at attractive efficiencies.

In the meanwhile, there is always energy efficiency. During IDEA’s centennial Annual Conference & Trade Show, in Washington DC, I was privileged to listen to Olivier Barbaroux, the Chairman and CEO of Veolia Energy, who made a telling comment on how the world could do a better job on focusing on energy efficiency, a market worth $50 billion, in his estimate. Later at the event, Gary Locke, the US Secretary of State famously described energy efficiency “as the fifth fuel”. The drivers for energy efficiency could be the very same industry that consumes 70% of a building’s total power consumption – air conditioning. District cooling, with a proper engineering approach, could be it. Cogen could be it. With an integrated approach in place, Saudi Arabia can well be on its way to reduce the number of power plants on the drawing board.

This calls for detailed discussion. And hopefully, the Climate Control Summit, on March 28 and 29, will provide some answers, which we would be delighted to share with you in subsequent issues.

Next month, we will be discussing another equally important issue – food safety from refrigeration and air filtration perspectives. And as a precursor, we bring to you in this issue our bi-annual supplement, called Food Chain. I hope you enjoy this issue. As usual, we crave your feedback (to surendar@cpi-industry.com).

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