Net-zero policies to drive services boom

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The GCC states’ net-zero targets and policies could expedite the shift from focusing mainly on task-related cost efficiency to total ownership cost.

Engie executive says energy tariffs increase will push more businesses to choose greener solutions

“Over the past 10-15 years, the focus has been on costs associated with a task rather than looking at total operating cost [over the entire lifecycle of an asset] whether it’s an industrial facility or a health care building,” says Ian Harfield, managing director at Engie Solutions -GCC. “Governments committing to a [net-zero] agenda will drive huge cultural change.”

The solutions business division looks after essential services – frequently referred to as outsourced facilities management – for the French-headquartered firm.

Harfield, who looks after businesses in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, says the sector has been growing in double-digit rates over the past few years and he expects growth to either be sustained or further accelerate as a result of the implementation of decarbonisation strategies and policies.

The growing acceptance among asset owners in terms of the value of transferring risk to the private sector has been driving this growth.

The net-zero targets announced in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are expected to provide further impetus to this changing mindset.

“There will be a transition period between the time the [net-zero] policies or strategies is announced and when these policies cascade to the implementation stage in the form of new regulations,” says Harfield, adding that carbon efficiency is a highly interrelated issue. “We expect increased levels of investment in energy efficient technologies, and engagement with energy services companies to support internal sustainability metrics.”

The executive also argues such changes put companies like Engie in a strong position given its vast experience when it comes to operating and maintaining assets. The firm itself aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

“Never in the past have we thought we will need to employ data scientists,” he says, citing data and information technology solutions and partnerships a key pillar of its business.

This is especially significant in the GCC region where the firm aims to play a prominent role in smart and integrated cities projects.

Technology and data science will drive the transition and will play a key role in achieving carbon efficiency in terms of monitoring end-user energy consumption.

As things stand, Harfield expects commercial properties such as hotels, as well as hospitals, schools and industrial facilities being the main sources of services demand across the GCC.

Last year, an Engie business division, Cofely, won the contracts to provide facilities management to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Energy Park and International Maritime Industries.

Engie is also bidding for several projects including the planned Cardiac Centre of Excellence (CCoE) at Dubai’s Rashid Medical Complex.

“New regulations and increases in energy tariffs are pushing more and more businesses to choose greener solutions. Consumer awareness and increased government initiatives around sustainability and climate change add pressure on industries in the region to adopt sustainable practices,” Harfield concludes.

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