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INTERVIEW: Nabil Habayeb
Nabil Habayeb, President and CEO, GE Middle East and Africa, talks about building renewable energy in the region.
July 14, 2012 3:00 by kippreport
Do you see these on the ground?
There are projects in Morocco. Wind [projects] in Egypt, in Jordan, in Turkey . . . Look at Masdar . . . what they are doing. You can definitely see a shift from hydro carbon-based economy to promote more renewable energy.
Are you, as GE, a leader of this trend or a follower?
I think we try to be advisors to the customers . . . to help them kick-start and move this industry and share global experiences around the world. So, you know, we work a lot with agencies that are promoting renewable energy and try to push forward the theme. So, we would like to think of ourselves as leading, but not ahead of our customers, of our stake holders, being more their advisors to the drive.
Which country would you say is not doing enough on renewables?
Frankly, it’s in different phases. The countries that are not hydro carbon-based economies had to [make a] head start because there was a need – and they did it. The hydro carbon-based economies realized a few years ago that it is important to diversify, because it’s a part of energy security that I talked to you about. It’s important to diversify the energy base that they have for several reasons. Because you know local demand is increasing. The consumption of the hydro carbon base that they used to export will be taken in by the internal consumption. So it has a huge impact, both from a GDP point of view, as well as from an environmental point of view. So, to answer your question, I think countries that are less hydro carbon-based have to [make a] head start, but I would not say they are not doing enough, because they are moving in the right direction.
We have seen in the US and also in Europe that as tax subsidies for renewable energy equipment goes away, the industry has a set back? Is that something that could happen here? What’s the formula that is used in the Gulf currently? Is it tax subsidization or is it government-run projects? Is there private participation there?
This is a very important point. In the Gulf, for instance, the private sector is not participating enough because of the incentives. If there are more incentives then you see a lot more of that happening. We are seeing some private sectors in some countries moving towards that direction because the subsidies they used to get on the traditional hydro carbon base are being taken away. So the cost of running the industry is becoming more expensive, hence they are moving to renewable. So it’s not because there are incentives around renewables, but because the subsidies on the other side – that is the hydro carbon – is taken away, so they are moving towards renewables. And that is driving more the private sector. but I take a look at some incentives from other parts of the region that have been put in place. I do not think those will be taken away because the drive is to move into that sector, which we have not done to the level of what Europe has done.