Future Energy Insights

Episode 16: The future of wastewater

The potential for treated wastewater to be transformed into a circular economy opportunity that helps foster innovation and create new jobs remains largely untapped. On episode 16 we look at the future of wastewater and the burgeoning treatment technologies landscape.

According to current UN Environment Programme data, only 11 per cent of the world’s treated wastewater is reused, with around 50 per cent of untreated wastewater making its way into our rivers, lakes, and oceans.

A valuable yet significantly untapped resource, treated wastewater reuse offers a clear circular economy opportunity with the potential to create new revenue streams - and jobs - as well as foster innovation and advance wastewater management practice.

Beyond commonplace usage for irrigation and industrial cooling processes, it could be utilised for groundwater aquifer recharging; as a concrete additive in the construction sector; and to produce biogas through waste-to-energy technology.

On episode 16, recorded at the 2024 World Future Energy Summit, we chat with two leading environment and water experts about the future potential of wastewater, and take a deeper dive into the latest technologies helping transform treatment to optimise usage.

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, is joined by Alicia Dauth, Senior Associate Consultant – Environment at AESG, and Dr Chakravarthy Gudipati, Executive Director - Water Technologies at the Technology Innovation Institute, a leading global research centre under the remit of the Abu Dhabi Government’s Advanced Technology Research Council.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.

Episode 15: Green hydrogen: To localise or commercialise?

Anticipated rampant growth in global demand for green hydrogen presents a major economic opportunity for many countries and is also a progressive zero-carbon journey solution for heavy industry high emitters. On episode 15 we examine both opportunities and look at which countries are already clean hydrogen keen, and what’s driving strategic decision-making.

A clean, scalable energy storage solution and zero-emission industrial feedstock, green hydrogen is being positioned as a sustainable energy source with incredible potential. 

The clean hydrogen market is expected to see exponential future demand growth with McKinsey reporting that by 2050 green hydrogen could dominate the global supply mix, with a share of between 50 and 65 percent across scenarios.

While this is contingent upon a significant decline in production costs between 2030 and 2050, it represents major economic opportunity for GCC nations and other global players.

But for heavy industry high emitters, abundant green hydrogen resources can’t be ignored as a zero-carbon solution and could be one of the most straightforward ways to cut emissions.  

On episode 15, recorded at the 2024 World Future Energy Summit, we chat with two climate change innovators about the decision to localise or commercialise; discuss what’s driving strategic decision-making for governments; and what it means for countries in the region and ambitious regional net-zero goals?

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, Founder and Managing Director of Zest Associates, is joined by Frank Wouters, Chairman of the MENA Hydrogen Alliance and Dii Desert Energy Advisory Board; and Wietse ter Veld, Clean Hydrogen Expert - Middle East for AtkinsRéalis.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.

Episode 14: Women at the epicentre of climate action

Women are playing an increasingly prominent role in addressing climate change mitigation and stand at the forefront of efforts to conserve, advocate and innovate. On episode 14 we talk to two high-profile women representing different aspects of the future energy industry to learn more about their inspiration and focus.

Climate change is a global issue that impacts – and involves - all of us, however there is a distinct disparity when it comes to the impact on gender with women especially vulnerable, due to historical roles, responsibilities and cultural norms. 

The UN estimates that women represent a staggering 80% of those displaced by climate change yet, globally, they are instrumental in promoting sustainable practices in their households and communities.

While women currently account for just over one-third of the renewable energy workforce, according to IRENA data, global research suggests that female leaders are more likely to support climate action and sustainability. Interestingly, private sector companies with more women on the board more likely to improve overall energy efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and invest in renewable energy.

On episode 14, recorded on location at the 2024 World Future Energy Summit, we chat with two climate change innovators on the frontline of change for key insights into their respective career journeys and the importance of female leadership in this planet-critical sector.

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, Founder and Managing Director of Zest Associates, is joined by Nada Abubakr, Middle East Lead at global water practice, Ricardo; and Susan Payne, Chief Operations Officer of agri-food tech company, Sustainable Planet.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.

 

Episode 13: Cities and climate change: planning a net-zero future.

With COP28 recognising the critical role of cities and relevant subnational players as key net-zero partners, on episode 13 our expert panellist looks at how this feeds into existing urban climate action strategies moving forward and the road ahead for the world’s metropolises.

Responsible for generating 70% of global emissions, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations has called the world’s cities ‘critical climate battlegrounds’.

This issue was formally recognised at COP28 with the final agreement highlighting the role of cities and relevant subnational players as partners for action.

From urban planning, sustainable architecture and green building standards to biodiversity preservation, renewable energy adoption and public transportation infrastructure, cities have myriad opportunities to implement climate-positive change. 

In episode 13, we explore and discuss the initiatives, opportunities – and challenges – facing cities across the region and identify key priorities for greenhouse gas emissions reduction as we count down to 2030 and 2050.

Jamila El Mir, senior advisor to the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions for COP28;

Benjamin Schroeder, Group Chief Communications Officer for UAE-headquartered Al-Futtaim Group; and Ghaith Tibi, Middle East Sustainability Lead for Arup.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.

Episode 12: How small businesses may be our biggest hope for net zero?

According to 2023 research by the World Economic Forum and Bain & Company, here, in the MENA region, just 12% of SMEs have set net zero targets with even fewer -  7% - mapping out a transition strategy. On Episode 12 we explore the current SME landscape including the particular challenges they face; the support needed to achieve 2050 goals; the role of high-profile initiatives such as the SME Climate Hub; as well as share examples of action across the region. 

As countries, governments, cities, businesses, communities and individuals, we all have a role to play in the net-zero journey.

Globally, small and medium-sized enterprises – SMEs - make up 90% of all businesses and represent more than 50% of employment worldwide.

Yet, according to  2023 research by the World Economic Forum and Bain & Company, here, in the MENA region, just 12% of SMEs have set net zero targets with even fewer -  7% - mapping out a transition strategy.

The tide is turning, however.

Through COP28, a new SME Climate Hub MENA initiative has been established to drive climate action in the private sector. In the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce recently launched a Net Zero Transition program for SMEs and the broader business sector. And, in Oman, the government is working with small and medium-sized businesses under the auspices of the National Net Zero Programme to showcase opportunities for them to engage in projects that support zero neutrality and carbon emission reduction goals.

These, and other regional programmes are a critically positive step in driving momentum for the implementation of net-zero strategies in the countdown to 2050.

In this podcast, our panelists will examine the net-zero transition challenges facing regional SMEs; discuss what level of support is required to accelerate action; and share positive examples to illustrate why small businesses may be our biggest hope for net zero.

Joining me today to discuss the key issues – and opportunities – are three sector experts:

Joining us remotely is Lydia Elliott, Deputy Director, Supplier Decarbonisation at the We Mean Business Coalition, one of the founding companies behind the global SME Climate Hub initiative. With more than a decade’s experience in corporate sustainability consulting, Lydia is instrumental in helping smaller businesses access the guidance and tools they need to take climate action.  

Also joining us is Dr Saeed Alhassan. A Khalifa University Abu Dhabi professor and former director of the Gas Research Center, he is also the founder of deep-tech water distillation start-up, Manhat, and brings a wealth of experience to today’s panel discussion.

Our third panellist is Martin Reynolds, CEO and co-founder of UAE headquartered Zero Carbon Ventures. Adding unique SME perspective to the discussion, Martin is on a mission to accelerate the advent of a zero-carbon world through the delivery of technology led ventures that can reduce emissions and derive economic value for stakeholders.

Episode 11: How can renewable energy help address global food security?

With a glaring gap between the challenges facing the Global North and the world’s least developed nations, on episode 11 we explore the critical role of renewable energy solutions and agritech in feeding the world and supporting net-zero goals.

The world’s food production systems are responsible for over 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions with agri-food systems consuming around 30% of the world’s energy.

The United Nations has said that farming must become more sustainable in order to address the climate crisis and feed a rapidly rising global population, which is set to grow by a further two billion people by 2050.

From implementation of renewable energy solutions such as solar arrays for agrivoltaic farming and geothermal greenhouses, to the circular benefits of agricultural biogas, farmers and stakeholders across the food production value chain are switching on to change.


Emerging technologies also have a vital role to play, with smart irrigation systems, artificial intelligence, precision agriculture, sensors and the Internet of Things a sampling of the emerging digital innovations that hold the potential to support long-term food security and mitigate climate change trends.

With a glaring gap between the challenges facing the Global North and the world’s least developed nations, on episode 11, we discuss where should governments and sector stakeholders priorities be focused, and what needs to be done to ensure that everyone stands to benefit from renewable energy and tech solutions.

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, Founder and Managing Director of Zest Associates, is joined by Samantha Kayruz, Strategy & Sustainability Impact Director at Goumbook;  Stuart Oda, Founder and CEO of Alesca Technologies; and Youssef Chehade, Founder and CEO of Ecyclex Recycling and ReLoop app.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.

Agri-food systems consume around 30% of the world’s energy, with energy responsible for one-third of those systems’ emissions, according to IRENA.

With another two billion people set to swell the world population by 2050, food security has never been more important. What role can renewable energy solutions and agri-tech play in feeding the world and supporting net-zero goals?

In Episode 11, we delve into the crucial intersection of renewable energy and agriculture, exploring how sustainable practices can address the climate crisis and ensure global food security.

Our esteemed panelists, bring their expertise to the table, discussing innovations like solar arrays, geothermal greenhouses, and emerging technologies such as smart irrigation and precision agriculture. Join us as we navigate the challenges and opportunities in the agri-tech space and strive to bridge the gap between nations for a more sustainable and equitable future.

Episode 10: Greening transportation. The future of alternative fuels

Transport and mobility currently account for 19 per cent of global carbon emissions, according to McKinsey research.

In the air, on the ground, and at sea, the dual challenge in developing and adopting carbon-neutral transport systems is how to keep people and goods moving while accelerating net-zero commitment.

The International Air Transport Association estimates that sustainable aviation fuel could contribute to around 65 per cent of the required emissions reductions needed for the aviation industry to reach net-zero by 2050. In the rail sector, governments are looking at the potential to convert electric-powered stock to use low-carbon traction options such as hydrogen and battery technology.

Drop-in sustainable marine fuels such as biodiesel and hydro-treated vegetable oil  have the potential to steer the maritime sector; with smaller vessels suited to battery or hydrogen fuel cell solutions. And, on road networks, biodiesel, biogas and hydrogen are exploratory options for heavy goods vehicle fleets with EVs the way forward for private vehicles.

Supported by an evolving global regulatory backdrop, the journey towards decarbonising transportation solutions is nonetheless facing numerous roadblocks including cost concerns, infrastructure issues, land degradation challenges, increased future grid demand – and allegations of greenwashing.

In Episode 10, we explore the current transportation energy landscape. From sustainable aviation fuel and biodiesel to green hydrogen and electric vehicles; and paint a realistic picture of what needs to be done if we are to go the distance to meet net-zero by 2050.

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, is joined by Maryam Ali AlBalooshi, Environment Manager at the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and State Lead Negotiator for Aviation Climate Change; Yousif Lootah, CEO, Lootah Biofuels; and Vimbai Midzi. Associate Director, Corporate Affairs and social and environmental impact lead at Careem.

Episode 9: COP28 global stocktake. Where do we go from here?


Ahead of COP28 in Dubai, and as the world counts down to 2030, Episode 9 explores the commitment of world leaders to pursue more aggressive emissions-reduction plans, refocus renewable energy targets, and provide much-needed climate finance for developing countries.

COP28, which is due to start in a matter of days, represents the most significant accountability moment for climate action, to date. Eight years on from the Paris Agreement, the September-released United Nations Global Stocktake report is the first official assessment of climate action since 2015.

The report has reaffirmed that the world is falling significantly short of the reduction in greenhouse gases required to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius. As representatives of the 198 official parties gather in Dubai to hopefully set out a collective and credible pathway to accelerate global action for the planet, will reflection on the Global Stocktake findings be a catalyst for decisive action?

On this podcast we explore the hurdles to accelerating national and collective global action and whether world leaders and governments are prepared to commit to more aggressive emissions-reduction plans, refocus renewable energy targets, and provide much-needed climate finance for developing countries.

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, Founder and Managing Director of Zest Associates, is joined by Katarina Uherova Hasbani, Partner and Global Director of Strategy and Advisory at consultancy, engineering and advisory firm AESG;  Vahid Fotuhi, Founder of the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA) and Founder and CEO of global mangrove project developer Blue Forest; and Courtney Fieldman, COP28 Climate Envoy and Founder of SPARK.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.

Episode 8: How digital twins can help build the cities of the future

Episode 8 looks at how digital twins technology can support smarter city planning and inform strategic decision-making while also potentially playing a pivotal role in helping cities achieve long-term climate change goals.

Our planet is currently facing the largest wave of urban growth in history. According to the United Nations, by 2050 more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. This potentially places huge strain on city services, infrastructure and transportation networks.

From Singapore, which was the first international city to create a country-scale digital twin, to Expo2020 Dubai, the first world fair to use digital twin technology, a growing number of global cities and governments are looking to next-generation virtual model technology to strategise future urban solutions, map out infrastructure upgrades, and fast-track smart development.


On this podcast, we look at how digital twins support smarter city planning and inform strategic decision-making. We explore the ways this, and other complementary disruptive technologies, are shaping the cities of the future; and  discuss the role of digital twins in helping cities realise long-term climate change goals.

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, Founder and Managing Director of Zest Associates, is joined by Oliver Kraft, Executive Vice President Sustainable Communities at Siemens Smart Infrastructure, and Expo2020 Dubai IoT technology blueprint lead; Cristina Savian, CEO and Founder of the BE-WISE consultancy; and Bhaskar Raman, a Digital Metaverse Consultant.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.


Episode 7: Closing the loop on MENA’s waste management challenges

On episode 7 we explore the challenges facing government and sector stakeholders in the UAE and wider region; and  take an in-depth look at the various projects and initiatives helping to reduce waste and support circular economy ambition.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on 30th March 2023 as the world marked the first Zero Waste Day, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, warned that the amount of solid waste generated globally will double from around two billion to four billion tonnes by 2050.

In the GCC alone, member nations currently generate up to 130 million tons of waste every year. Population growth, ongoing urbanisation, shifting consumption habits, a lack of stringent regulation and public indifference have cumulatively amplified the region’s waste management problem over the decades.

In recent years, however, the development of long-term national strategies aligned with significant government investment and the advent of consumer awareness campaigns have set the wheels of change in motion.

The concept of ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’ has been widely integrated across the waste management landscape, from landfill diversion initiatives and waste-to-energy programmes -  driven by comprehensive circular economy policy frameworks.

On Episode 7, we pinpoint the major challenges facing government and sector stakeholders in the UAE and wider MENA region, and take an in-depth look at the various projects, programmes and initiatives already positively impacting waste reduction goals.

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, Founder and Managing Director of Zest Associates, is joined by

Ali Al Dhaheri, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Company – Tadweer;

Nivine Issa, who has headed up environmental and waste engineering teams in the region, across a range of projects in the infrastructure and built environment sector; and Dr Samah Alghalebi, Director at Dubai-headquartered Smart Waste & Energy Solutions.

An imperative under UN Sustainable Development Goal number 11, our panellists will share their expert insight, experiences, and examine ways in which the region is tackling waste management to help ensure the wellness of societies and mitigate climate change.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.


EPISODE 6: The case for taking solar offshore

Episode 6 takes a deep dive into the potential of floating photovoltaics (FPVs) as a sustainable alternative to land-based arrays and what it means for the MENA region.

With potential to free up vital agricultural land in countries where food security is critical; help enable island nations to meet their net-zero pledges; and produce more energy than terrestrial arrays due to the panel-cooling benefit of water, the case for taking solar offshore is gaining momentum.

Growing land scarcity and the rising cost of ground-mounted solar photovoltaics projects are driving demand in global markets from Asia-Pacific to the US. Recently released research from Wood Mackenzie posits an optimistic outlook for the sector with global floating PV fleet capacity expected to top the 6W threshold in the next eight years through to 2031.

However, the niche nature of floating PV farms comes with a higher price tag than conventional land-based sites.

On Episode 6, we take a deep dive into the potential of floating photovoltaics (FPVs) as a sustainable alternative to land-based arrays and ask what it means for the MENA region?

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, Founder and Managing Director of Zest Associates, is joined by Alice Cowman, Chief Executive Officer at Enerwhere, the world’s first distributed solar utility company;  Karel de Winter, Founder and Commercial Director of Hy-Energie and co-founder of the Middle East Solar Industry Association; and Antonio Jimenez, Managing Director and VP for Middle East & Africa at Trina Solar.

Our panellists will discuss whether, in the long term, floating solar can achieve price parity with onshore installations? Will evolving technology support sea-based arrays as a solution for desert nations? And what needs to be done to accelerate global adoption?

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.


EPISODE 5: Financing a water secure future

In episode 5 we take a deep dive into the complexities, challenges and opportunities presented by the current funding landscape for water projects worldwide.

One of the greatest challenges of our time, water scarcity is a global issue. In episode five of Future Energy Insights we explore the compelling environmental, economic and humanitarian case for financing water projects.

By 2040, worldwide demand is expected to outstrip freshwater supplies, with climate change, over-consumption, conflict, population growth and infrastructure issues all playing a part.

According to UN data, the number of people facing this issue could more than double from 930 million in 2016 to a staggering 2.4 billion people in 2050.

The Middle East and North Africa is particularly hard hit, with seven out of 10 of the world’s most water-stressed countries located here in this region.

What is being done to tackle water scarcity? How are funds being raised? What is and isn’t working?

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer, Founder and Managing Director of Zest Associates, is joined by Lu’ay Khdeir, Regional Water Market Director, Middle East, Atkins;  Shargiil Bashir, Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President, First Abu Dhabi Bank; and Clare Dalton, Head of Mission for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the UAE.

Our panellists will explore the value of public-private partnerships in the large-scale utilities sector as well as discussing stakeholder responsibility across NGO-led projects where the end user is a paying customer, and the ongoing role of innovation in leveraging sustained investor interest.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.


EPISODE 4: The role for AI in re-shaping future energy

AI-generated data is helping to optimise energy efficiency, improve supply and demand predictions, and increase grid flexibility.

Indeed, some believe AI might be the key to answering the long-standing trilemma of providing affordable, safe, and sustainable energy.

But will its long-term environmental footprint make us bad ancestors? And how do we regulate machine learning and protect the jobs it will inevitably replace?

In this episode of Future Energy Insights, we examine the role for AI in the future energy space and discuss how we can future proof technology to ensure it is used to the advantage of all.

Hosted by Jeffrey Beyer is joined by Rui De Sousa, industry & value advisor at SAP, joins Khurram Hamid, author and, co-founder of the Web 3 institute and Dr Patrick Noack, director of Dubai Future Foundation.

Future Energy Insights is a new podcast from the World Future Energy Summit that seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy today, both in the Middle East and around the world.


EPISODE 3: Financing the green hydrogen revolution

According to the International Energy Agency, to help reach net zero emissions globally by 2050, the clean hydrogen market needs $1.2 trillion of investment this decade – a goal we are nowhere close to achieving.

In this, our third and final Green Hydrogen themed episode recorded live at the World Future Energy Summit, our speakers discuss ways to attract public- and private-sector funding into the sector.

Where do the biggest investment opportunities lie? Which countries are leading the field in attracting green hydrogen investment? What lessons can other nations learn from them and why?

Justo Alejandro Algaba, Director - Infrastructure Finance, MENAT at HSBC is joined by Claude Mourey, Director, Hydrogen and New Energies – EMEA at Wood Mackenzie and Adrien d'Ormesson, Investment Manager at Foresight Group, a sustainability-led alternative assets and SME investment manager. 

The episode – moderated by Jeffrey Beyer, explores where the bulk of investment is coming from: governments or private equity firms, and ways to unlock further financing.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy, both in the Middle East and around the world.


EPISODE 2: Building a local hydrogen market: What needs to be in place?

Episode two of Future Energy Insights will explore the elements needed to build a thriving hydrogen market in the GCC.

Moderator Jeffrey Beyer is joined by Frank Wouters, Senior Vice President of New Energy at Reliance International, Emanuele Bianco, Policy Program Officer at IRENA and Dr Jehan Kanga, CEO of Rux Energy, an advanced materials startup.

Recorded live at World Future Energy Summit 2023, the episode explores how countries can position themselves at the forefront of the hydrogen market and how they can export efficiently to the many countries eyeing up this clean energy form.

The 30 minute session examines what infrastructure should be built, partnerships formed and government initiatives introduced to lay robust foundations on which the industry can grow. There is also a focus on startups and the need for cross-sector collaboration.


EPISODE 1: Green hydrogen: Is the Middle East market innovating fast enough?

The World Future Energy Summit (WFES) has launched its podcast series, Future Energy Insights.

Recorded live at WFES 2023, episode one examines the clean hydrogen sector and whether the Middle East market is innovating quickly enough to meet future demand.

Global industry experts discuss the market segments presenting the biggest opportunities for innovators. They explore the R&D currently under way to help drive innovation, and the role that photovoltaics, electrolysers and other technologies will play in accelerating growth.

Featuring a mix of passionate debate and in-depth discussion, episode one is entitled ‘Clean hydrogen: is the region’s market innovating fast enough?’.

Panellists include Alan Zhao, Director of New Power Business, Africa and Middle East at Cummins; and Dan Feldman, a partner in the corporate finance and investment practice at King and Spalding law firm in Abu Dhabi.

Chris Smith, CEO and founder of Meld Energy, which delivers green hydrogen solutions to a global market, also joins the debate.

Future Energy Insights seeks to address the biggest challenges shaping the future of energy, both in the Middle East and around the world.