France’s Engie targets 80 gigawatts of renewable capacity by 2030

The utility company plans to bid for new renewable energy projects in Saudi Arabia and UAE

France's Engie plans to start new projects in Europe, the US and the Middle East and Africa. EPA
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French utility company Engie is targeting a renewable energy capacity of 80 gigawatts by 2030 from 35 gigawatts at present as it plans to extend its global clean energy portfolio.

The company is planning to start new projects in Europe, the US, the Middle East and Africa and Australia, Frederic Claux, Engie’s country manager for GCC and Pakistan told The National on the sidelines of the World Green Economy Summit in Dubai on Wednesday.

“We want to grow to 80 [gigawatts] by 2030 and are looking at different countries,” said Mr Claux, who is also the company's managing director of thermal and supply for Asia, Middle East and Africa.

The projects involve a “lot of money and we are going to partner with some other companies in terms of equity”, he said.

Companies globally are investing heavily in new clean energy projects as the world focuses on cutting emissions to limit global warming. Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power this week said it will increase its renewable capacity to 120 gigawatts in the next 10 years, from 43 gigawatts currently.

Global investment in the renewable energy sector climbed 11 per cent year on year to $226 billion in the first half of 2022, according to an August report by research provider BloombergNEF.

Investment in new large and small-scale solar projects rose 33 per cent to a record-breaking $120bn during the period, while wind project financing grew 16 per cent to $84bn, the report said.

Engie also aims to expand in the renewables sector in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s two largest economies. The company is planning to bid for the 1.5 gigawatts Al Abjan solar project in Abu Dhabi as well as new renewable projects in Saudi Arabia.

“The governments in the region have massive ambitions in terms of growing renewables and they have also pledged to become net zero, by 2050 for the UAE and 2060 for Saudi Arabia. The energy transition is in motion and there are huge opportunities in the sector,” Mr Claux said.

The UAE, Opec's third-largest oil producer, has Dh600bn ($163.5bn) worth of clean and renewable energy investments planned over the next three decades.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, aims to grow the share of gas and renewable energy in its power mix to 50 per cent by 2030. The kingdom this week launched five new renewable energy projects with a total capacity of 3.3 gigawatts, including three wind projects and two solar schemes.

“There is a bright future in the region, especially with the availability of vast land, and radiation from the sun is much better … it’s not exactly a windy region but if you go to the northern part of Saudi [Arabia], in front of Sinai and Egypt, this area is good for wind conditions.”

Engie is at present working with a dairy farm in Saudi Arabia to supply solar energy for the company and reduce its carbon footprint.

It is also phasing out coal plants as it aims to become carbon neutral by 2045. It plans to phase out coal plants in Europe by 2025 and globally by 2027.

“We started to divest or close our power plants 10 years ago, so it’s almost complete. Last week, we announced divestment in Brazil, one of the last coal plants we still had,” Mr Claux said.

The company continues to operate gas-fired power plants and “it’s kind of a necessary ingredient [gas] in energy transition because of the intermittency of renewables”, he said.

The gas network will provide the flexibility that is needed to support the grid and to support the energy transition, he said.

Updated: September 29, 2022, 3:30 AM