Sunday, October 04, 2009

KOM Talks Renewable Energy

Knowledge Oasis Muscat ( will host its quarterly Digital Nation Seminar, Monday, 7:45pm, 5 October at Muscat's Grand Hyatt Hotel, Al Afrah Ballroom.

The topic for the evening is: Renewable Energy and Green Technology. The panel line-up includes: Rayan Al Kalbani, Mazoon Environmental Services; Raza Ashraf (moderator and pictured), Total Alignment; Craig Tucker, Oman Botanic Garden; and Dr. Simon Wilson, Five Oceans Environmental Services.

We've mapped out below some of the questions the panel will be discussing.

If you'd like to attend this free-of-charge event, then e-mail your name and contact co-ordinates to:

What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy has been defined as “Energy flows that occur naturally and repeatedly in the environment and can be harnessed for human benefit.” Put simply, it is those forms of energy production that do not deplete the earth’s resources nor leave long-term waste products.

How much renewable energy do we use?
Globally the world uses renewable sources for about 10% of its energy. The EU average is about 7%.

What is the future potential for renewables?
Good question. When you think about it, we’ll have to have wholly sustainable energy supplies in the future, either because we’ll have used up the fossil and nuclear resources, or because we’ll recognize we can’t use them without destroying the planet. That means achieving 100% renewable energy (just like it was 200 years ago).

1.How would you persuade Oman-based people that climate change is a problem and win support for policies to tackle it?

2.You clearly accept that climate change is a major and potentially catastrophic threat. What action should we be taking to reduce this threat?

3.What are your views on the perceived ‘red tape’ surrounding the construction and implementation of renewable projects?

4.Can Oman really be powered entirely from renewable energy in the future?

5.It’s widely accepted that a challenge as great as climate change will need a combination of changes in regulation, business responsibility and consumer behaviour. What do you consider to be the most important measures / decisions we should be taking?

6.Which country’s approach do you most admire in relation to climate change?

Footnote: There’s a lot of good practice to choose from. The Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Japan, California: all provide examples of pioneering policy, whether it be in energy efficiency, working with business or in facilitating the development of renewable energy. However, if I had to pick one country, Sweden’s commitment to being fossil-fuel free by 2015 is genuinely inspiring.

7.What renewable technologies should Oman be focusing on and why?

8.Businesses across the world are nervous about making the huge investment necessary to shift to a low carbon society. What would you do to provide the right conditions for long-term investment?

9.What advice would you give to Omani companies looking to enter into the renewables market?

10.What advice would you give to a company that wanted to go carbon neutral?

Footnote: There are generally three steps involved. The first is energy efficiency, and that really should be the first on anybody's list. Second thing is to deploy renewables as widely as you can. Third, once you’ve done everything you can around energy efficiency and renewables to reduce your emissions, for example, investing in offset projects that eliminate methane emissions from landfills or agricultural waste.

11.Are offsets the last resort?

Footnote: Probably - many would describe offsets as something that if that's all you do, then it’s tantamount to green-washing.

12.Would you like to see companies having to declare their total energy and carbon footprint? If so, how would we go about this? What good would it do?

13.More and more technology companies and leaders are getting involved in the energy sector. We see Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla promoting ethanol and IBM investing heavily in green technology, for instance. How would you explain this crossover between the digital revolution and the clean-energy revolution?

Footnote: This is motivated by two issues. One is that people see a huge problem that needs a solution: growing emissions are contributing to climate change, which could have a devastating impact on many parts of the world. Two, that problem presents an enormous opportunity to innovate and develop solutions that then can make a lot of money. The amount of money in the energy sector is enormous, so even if you can only solve a small part of the problem, you can still make a lot of money.

14.What are you doing personally to reduce your carbon footprint?

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