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Smarter digital power fundamental to meeting the Middle East's low-carbon ambitions, experts contend
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 28 - 11 - 2021

Tackling climate change is an increasing priority within the agenda of most Middle East nations. In the last year, new leadership for climate action has emerged across the region, and even major oil and gas exporters like Saudi Arabia have announced they would reach net-zero emissions by 2060. To date, 137 countries from the UN Climate Convention — responsible for 80% of global emissions — have committed to net-zero-emission targets. It is a priority all the more in focus following the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow.
But the Middle East has also played host to an increasing number of sustainability-driven conferences in the last year, paving its own path in this domain.
The recent Global Digital Power Summit 2021 is one such forum, showcasing how public and private sector collaborations are helping to usher in a low-carbon and greener future through advanced technologies. Hosted by Huawei Digital Power—a relatively new business subsidiary of global ICT leaders Huawei—the summit involved more than 500 participants from 67 countries examining the interplay between digital and power electronics technologies. Industry innovators from ACWA Power, Uptime Institute, Engie, Group42, and many others were amongst those involved.
"Carbon neutrality has become a global consensus and mission," notes Charles Yang, SVP of Huawei and President of Global Marketing Sales and Services at Huawei Digital Power, to CNN. "To achieve that goal, power production needs to be low carbonized, and power consumption needs to be electrified."
After the pandemic, it is predicted that there will be even greater demand from society for new and green power sources.
For its part, Huawei sees an opportunity to deeply integrate digital and power electronics technologies to create low-carbon energy solutions, covering the whole energy flow from green power generation to efficient power consumption. This is embodied in its philosophy to "use bits to manage watts". In June 2021, Huawei and Informa Tech even proposed the Network Carbon Intensity (NCI) initiative, in which carbon emissions per bit of data is defined as a new metric for green networks.
The initiative comes at a time when Huawei estimates that almost 40% of carbon emissions now come from electric systems. Experts at McKinsey have meanwhile highlighted how, as the power-generation industry shifts to the next normal, "adopting the latest digital and advanced-analytics technologies has become critical".
The Middle East region and Gulf specifically is of strategic importance to Huawei Digital Power company. With some of the longest sunlight hours in the world—estimated at 2,500 hours per year—Yang asserts that there are great opportunities for large-scale deployment of PV and energy storage systems in particular.
Today, various use cases are now available for how using AI, big data, and cloud facilitates more efficient operation and maintenance of power systems. Enterprises can thus provide cleaner and more stable power to society. Reimagining smart PV, data center facilities, mPower for electric vehicles, site power, and integrated energy solutions will be key to driving the energy revolution. "While we will have cooperation with businesses in all of these five domains in the GCC, I believe that smart PV and data center facilities are particularly important," comments Yang.
In the World Economic Forum's Digital Transformation of Industries series, it proposes that digital transformation has immense potential to unlock $1.3 trillion of value for the global electricity sector.
"We have engaged with hundreds of businesses, consultants, NGOs, and governments around the world to look at opportunities across the energy ecosystem," concludes Yang. "The reality is that the Middle East is both a major energy producer and a global pioneer in the exploration of alternative energy systems. We thus see a huge potential for digital power to support national transformation agendas in the Middle East in building a better and greener future."
It would seem this is a call to action that will only find more and more resonance with organizations in the days ahead.

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