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Putting clean energy at the heart of infrastructure development

Article Republished By Javier Troconis

Putting clean energy at the heart of infrastructure development

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Sustainability is at the heart of the Saudi Vision 2030. So naturally, that has fed through to the projects making that vision a reality. At The Red Sea Development Co., every decision we make has environmental and social sustainability at its core. That is why, early in development, we committed that our destinations would run 100 percent on renewable energy sources.

The clean, green power generation system we have developed integrates three major elements, which synchronize to supply renewable and reliable energy for The Red Sea Project and AMAALA.

These elements are photovoltaic cells, a massive battery storage facility and emergency biodiesel generators.

The photovoltaic system has been built at such a scale that it is designed to deliver the power needed across the destination during the daytime while simultaneously charging the battery storage facility. This system, in turn, becomes the primary source of energy during the nighttime.

To ensure we can continue meeting power demand when the sun goes down, we are building the largest battery storage facility in the world today.

This facility makes up the most expensive element of our power generation system, and so to maximize cost efficiency, we must also maximize energy efficiency.

Our goal is to achieve “minimum energy performance” across the development, a prerequisite for LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the most widely used green building rating system. This attitude is instilled at each stage of design.

For instance, we found that air conditioning and cooling consume more than 40 percent of the total energy used in commercial and industrial buildings. To counter this, we have adopted innovative design tricks to reduce our reliance on power-generated air cooling.

One example is our thermal storage tanks; these store excess cooling energy generated during the daytime and become our primary source for cooling energy at nighttime. This approach reduces the burden on our batteries.

We have also challenged ourselves and our partners to consider the building materials we use and how this impacts energy efficiency. For instance, we are using materials that offer high insulation levels to reduce heat transfer, which can result in remarkable energy savings.

Moreover, we have chosen efficient lighting options and lighting control systems that ensure optimization across the project. This approach has allowed us to meet LEED Platinum guidelines.

Unfortunately, we cannot always rely on solar and batteries. According to meteorological studies conducted across the project zone, there are a few days in the year when golden sunshine cannot be guaranteed.

These days, the efficiency of photovoltaic cells might be negatively impacted, so emergency biodiesel generators are integrated into the power generation system as a fail-safe.

In effect, we are always seeking the most sustainable solution and have selected the highest grade of biodiesel fuel on the market, B100. It is diesel-free and often described as an environmentally friendly fuel.

We have elected to use this fuel to maintain our commitment to achieving carbon neutrality and ensuring there are no harmful impacts on people or the planet.

In our economic sustainability framework, we have set targets beyond standard codes. These targets include our ambition to secure a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040.

Achieving this requires a new approach to development. That is why we are obsessed with how we generate and use energy, always looking for the most sustainable option. We are proud to set new standards in sustainable development and hope others will follow our lead.

• Abdullah Binsaeed is associate electrical engineering director at TRSDC.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point of view

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