Kingdom investing in energy-saving technologies

In an effort to reduce the Kingdom’s dependence on oil, a Saudi-Japanese business forum on energy-saving technologies was held at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry ( JCCI ) yesterday.

“The Kingdom wants to diversify energy, because of the growing demand. Japan has a lot of experience in this field and advanced technologies, so we can contribute to this field a lot,” Yasuyuki Murahashi, director general of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Riyadh Office, said.

The forum, jointly organized by the JCCI and JETRO, aimed at encouraging and promoting Saudi-Japanese business, particularly in energy-saving as well as energy-efficient technologies, said Murahashi.

A delegation of representatives from Japanese companies participated in the forum, which first visited Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday, and then moved to Jeddah on Monday.

Sameeh Musfir Al-Arabi, a Saudi architect who attended the forum, said the current focus of the authorities on saving energy is overdue.

“We have been in need to establish these technologies for a long time,” he said. JETRO Riyadh Office, a semi-governmental nonprofit organization, organizes several forums on various fields every year. As energy-saving technologies are the new focus of the Saudi government, JETRO decided to organize a forum on this topic, Murahashi said.

He said the main challenge facing the Saudi market concerning energy saving is people’s perception.

“Oil and water are very cheap here. People don’t see why they need to save energy,” Murahashi said.

However, with demand growing tremendously, diversifying energy is rapidly becoming a must.

Six Japanese companies presented their technologies, which ranged from a heat shield paint to keep emitting heat outside buildings to automotive technology and from energy measuring instruments to efficient air conditioning systems.

Most companies focused on energy saving cooling systems, which constitutes one of the biggest opportunities in the Saudi market.

Ash Roy, managing director of Fumin Co., Ltd., a company that has developed a coating technology for glass surfaces to shut off heat in houses and offices, said his company had been invited by the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), which was interested in saving energy costs.

“With 80 percent of power in Saudi Arabia being consumed between June and October, the SEC’s goal is to ensure to bring down energy consumption dramatically,” he said. Thermal insulation is one of their priorities.

The Japanese Water Desk was also represented during the forum. The nonprofit organization affiliated to the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry was established in 2005 at the JCCI ‘s premises to support and facilitate Japanese investment and technology transfer on water-related projects. It also focuses on solar and other sustainable energies.

By SELMA ROTH, Jan 23 2013