About Shakeeb Ahmad

Shakeeb Ahmad is the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Lead at Melting Coal, a dedicated engineering and consulting company providing customized Renewable Energy, Sustainability and Carbon Management services. He is a specialist in carbon emission reduction and a wide array of alternative energy technologies, especially biomass and waste-to-energy. He has successfully undertaken an extensive range of projects and has been involved in sustainable energy implementations and carbon assessments of over 200 sites globally. Shakeeb is a Chemical Engineer having a Masters from Swansea University (UK) and Bachelors from Aligarh Muslim University (India).

Energy Management in the Middle East

Managing and reducing energy consumption not only saves money but also helps in mitigating climate change and enhancing corporate reputation. The primary objective of energy management is to achieve and maintain optimum energy procurement and utilisation, throughout the organisation which may help in minimizing energy costs and mitigating environmental effects. Infact, energy management is widely acknowledged as the best solution for direct and immediate reduction of energy consumption.

Importance of Energy Management

Energy should be regarded as a business cost, like raw material or labour. Companies can achieve substantial reduction in energy bills by implementing simple housekeeping measures. Reduction and control of energy usage is vital for an organization as it:

  • Reduces costs: Reducing cost is the most compelling reason for saving energy. Most organisations can save up to 20% on their fuel cost by managing their energy use;
  • Reduces carbon emissions: Reducing energy consumption also reduces carbon emissions and adverse environmental effects. Reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint helps build a ‘green’ image thereby generating good business opportunities; and
  • Reduce risk: Reducing energy use helps reduce risk of energy price fluctuations and supply shortages.

Regulatory requirements aiming to reduce carbon emissions and energy use require accurate energy data collection and effective management systems. Good energy management practices are compliant with these requirements and help fulfil regulatory obligations. Businesses worldwide are showing interest in appointment of a formal/informal energy manager to coordinate energy management activities. The main task of an energy manager is to set up a system to collect, analyse and report on energy consumption and costs which may involve reading electricity meters regularly and analysis of utility bills.

Carbon emissions from energy use dominate the total greenhouse gas emissions of most organisations. Sound energy management is rapidly emerging as an integral part of carbon management which in turn helps organisations in effective overall environmental management. In addition to financial benefits, energy management has other significant advantages for an organisation such as:

  • Organisations achieve stronger market position by demonstrating ‘green’ credentials. Energy management improves competitive advantage as most consumers prefer to source from socially responsible businesses;
  • Organisations adopting energy management systems can influence supply chains by preferring suppliers who adopt environment management practices; and
  • Energy management creates a better workplace environment for employees by improving working conditions.

Energy Management in the Middle East

In recent years, energy consumption in the Middle East is rising exponentially due to rapid industrialization and high population growth rate. Infact, the level of primary energy consumption in MENA region is one of the highest worldwide.  However, the efficiency of energy production and consumption patterns in the region requires improvement. Though the per capita energy consumption in the GCC sub-region are among the world’s top list, more than 40 percent of the Arab population in rural and urban poor areas do not have adequate access to energy services.

The Middle East is making a steady change towards energy efficiency and alternative sources of energy. Several declarations have been issued in recent years emphasizing concerns and commitment of regional powers to achieve sustainable development. Energy Strategy 2030 introduced by Dubai aims to reduce energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by the year 2030 through secure energy supply and efficient energy use while meeting environmental and sustainability objectives. Simalarly Saudi Arabia and Qatar are seriously pursuing the use of alternative energy in power generation. This is an attractive driver for businesses to adopt solutions that reduce overall energy consumption. 

Considering the rapid rise in power demand in the region, governments are now looking to diversify their energy mix from their primary energy source to a greater reliance on renewable energy. Middle East energy efficiency ranking is expected to get a major boost due to the development of large renewable energy projects in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc. Balanced approaches are being employed to drive feasible clean energy projects while developing the regulatory framework and adaptation of energy efficient technologies.

Many businesses in the Middle East have set dynamic strategic direction to achieve immediate reduction in energy consumption. The trend towards energy efficiency will only continue to grow to sustain this demand. With increasing environmental awareness, there is significant room for growth and leadership within the Middle East for the adoption of energy optimisation, introduction of specialised energy-saving systems and implementation of sustainable energy technologies.

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Understanding Carbon Footprint

With rising awareness of global warming and effects of emissions on the environment, corporates and individuals alike are rising to tackle environmental issues. Carbon footprinting, the first step to reduce carbon emissions, is the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product. The main reason for calculating a carbon footprint is to inform decisions on how to reduce the climate change impact of a company, service or product. Carbon footprints are measured by undertaking a greenhouse gas assessment. Once the size of a carbon footprint is known, a strategy can be devised to reduce it.

Why Carbon Footprint?

Growing public awareness about climate change and global warming has resulted in an increasing interest in ‘carbon footprinting’. The global community now recognizes the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. The most popular methods to reduce carbon footprint include use of alternative energy, reforestation, waste reduction and energy efficiency. Population, economic output, primary energy mix and carbon intensity are the major parameters in determining the carbon footprint of a particular country.

Carbon footprint is the foremost indicator of environmental responsibility and helps to identify climate impacts and lower them cost-effectively by strategic and operative planning, constructing a climate policy, environmental reporting etc. In addition, carbon footprint promotes positive, environmentally conscious company image and can boost the marketing of an organization and its products.

Types of Carbon Footprint

There are different types of carbon footprint, e.g. for organisations, individuals, products, services, and events.  Different types of carbon footprint have different methods and boundaries. The various approaches and types of greenhouse gas assessment are discussed below.

  • Product Carbon Footprint is suited for organizations which have distinct products and services. It delivers a view of GHG emissions specific to a single product or service. This can then be scaled up to the entire organization. Product Carbon Footprint can be assessed to capture either business-to-business view (cradle-to-gate) or business-to-consumer view (cradle-to-grave).
  • Corporate Carbon Footprint is suited for organisations wishing to take an overview of the carbon footprint of the entire organization. The process starts off by identifying the business goals for the GHG inventory, setting up suitable organizational boundaries, selecting an appropriate baseline period; data collection and finally preparing plan for data quality management.
  • Value-Chain Carbon Footprint includes activities associated with the product or services of an organization over entire value chain.  This accounts for emissions arising from raw material procurement to the end of product life. Value-chain carbon footprint provides an aggregate view of all the products and services of the company.

Carbon Footprint in the Middle East

The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. Oil and gas industry, electricity production, transportation, industrial heating and air-conditioning are responsible for most of the carbon emissions from the region. Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia figure among the world’s top-10 per capita carbon emitters. Infact, carbon emissions from Qatar are approximately 50 tons per capita, which is more than double the US per capita footprint of 19 tons per year. 

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Greening Your Business

With growing awareness among consumers for eco-friendly products, it is becoming highly important for businesses in the Middle East to adopt and implement green strategies. It is not only the requirement of customers but also compliance to regulations and reduction in operating costs that drive the implementation of environment-friendly methods in business. Corporate social responsibility (or CSR) is now driven by pollution prevention, energy efficiency, eco-friendly design, and industrial ecology across all industrial sectors. 

Components of a Green Business

A green business appears to be an expensive and cumbersome process. On the contrary it is quite easy to have a green business. The first and easiest step towards going green is the reduction in carbon footprint of your organization. Carbon footprint should be calculated and then reduced by taking some simple measures like:

  • Focusing on direct as well as indirect emissions;
  • Implementing cost-effective and energy efficient technologies; and
  • Developing low carbon energy sources.

Energy management is another vital ingredient of a green business. This includes assessing, controlling and saving energy. Energy management involves getting a detailed data of the energy consumption patterns and keeping a check on the conservation progress. In simple terms, energy management means reducing waste and promoting recycling.

If we take look around, nature has provided us with an endless supply of alternative energy in the form of solar, wind, hydro energy and so on. Alternative energy is not only environment-friendly but also economical. For instance, if you switch to green power, there will be a considerable reduction in carbon emission as well as the electricity bill. A solar panel on the roof of your building can take care of most of your basic energy needs. Alternative energy facilities require less maintenance and produce little or no waste products. And most importantly it is sustainable and will never run out.

Changing Landscape in the Middle East

Many of the world’s biggest companies now realise the importance of eco-friendly brand image. There are a host of simple environment saving solutions that are not only good for the business but also make a company greener, thus serving as an attractive PR and marketing tool. Seeing companies in Europe and US take a green lead, many businesses in the Middle East are now trying to catch up. New commercial thinking in the development of better ways to make things is being driven by the green agenda of sustainability and environment.

For most companies it means assessing manufacturing and distribution processes, quantifying carbon footprints and finding ways to minimize their impacts on the environment. Of importance is reducing waste, recycling, changing to renewable sources of energy, and setting targets to improve performance throughout the manufacturing and distribution chains.

The specter of oil depletion is also creating more concern in the Middle East. More and more, the part of the world that’s produced so much of the oil we all rely on appears to be coming to the realization that business as usual isn’t sustainable. All of these factors are pushing the Middle East towards more sustainability and Middle Eastern companies towards green business.

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