Interview: Peter Terium

Peter Terium,
Head of Energy, Water and Food at NEOM
 

“NEOM will Offer Investors, Entrepreneurs an Attractive Environment for Investment, Biz”

NEOM will offer investors and entrepreneurs alike an attractive environment for business and investment, all supported by a progressive law compatible with international norms and conducive to economic growth. THE LINE, in turn, will power NEOM as it becomes a hub for innovation where global business and emerging players can research, incubate and commercialize ground-breaking technologies to accelerate human progress, shares Peter Terium, Head of Energy, Water and Food at NEOM – home of Saudi Arabia’s most ambitious future smart city completely based on clean energy, in an exclusive conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Energetica India. Terium previously headed German energy companies Innogy and RWE as CEO.

“What is ‘NEOM’, its meaning and the vision behind its formation?”

NEOM is an accelerator of human progress and a vision of what a New Future might look like. It is a region in northwest Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea being built from the ground up as a living laboratory – a place where entrepreneurship will chart the course for this New Future. It will be a destination and a home for people who dream big and want to be part of building a new model for exceptional livability, creating thriving businesses, and reinventing environmental conservation.
NEOM will be the home and workplace to more than a million residents from around the world. It will include communities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations. It is a centrepiece of Saudi Vision 2030 and will be an engine of economic growth for Saudi Arabia; it will drive diversification and aims to contribute 380,000 jobs of the future and USD 48 billion to domestic GDP by 2030.

“Shed some light on ‘The Line’ project’s speciality, along with its connectivity with rest of the world?”

THE LINE is an urban living revolution and a response to the challenges faced by contemporary cities today, from ageing infrastructure to pollution growth.
A 170km-belt of hyper-connected communities built from the ground up, guided by principles of sustainability, THE LINE will weave nature into urban environments, putting people’s health and wellbeing at the centre of all development.
It will be free of cars and streets and built around nature, enhancing livability and placing people within a five-minute walk of every daily need such as schools, medical clinics, leisure facilities and green spaces. This human-centric approach represents the first time modern cities have been designed for people, rather than cars.
THE LINE will rely entirely on clean energy, with zero carbon emissions and zero environmental, noise, or visual pollution.

“What will be the estimated investment amount required for the ‘The Line’ city? How its funding has been planned? What perks Saudi government will offer to foreign investors?”

NEOM will attract private as well as public investments and partnerships. It will be backed by more than $500 billion by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), local as well as international investors, to be invested over the several years of development the project will take. NEOM’s main investor is PIF, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, with a diversified portfolio. PIF is a long-term investor and is committed to actively supporting the development of key economic sectors in Saudi Arabia including digital infrastructure, sustainability and tourism – all key facets of NEOM.
PIF’s role is to provide the governance oversight for NEOM as it develops, to make sure it receives the capital it needs, when it needs it, and the financial muscle/influence to attract other investors to participate. Its broad portfolio is also designed to support the wider aims of NEOM and Saudi Arabia in key areas of digital innovation, decarbonization and broader ESG goals that will drive long-term growth and spur economic diversification away from petrochemicals/oil.
NEOM will offer investors and entrepreneurs alike an attractive environment for business and investment, all supported by a progressive law compatible with international norms and conducive to economic growth. THE LINE, in turn, will power NEOM as it becomes a hub for innovation where global business and emerging players can research, incubate and commercialize ground-breaking technologies to accelerate human progress.

“By when the project work has been planned to start? And in how many years it is estimated to be completed?”

Construction of THE LINE will commence in Q1 of 2021. THE LINE is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects in the world and forms part of extensive development work already underway at NEOM. NEOM is a centrepiece of Saudi Vision 2030, and continuous construction and design will occur to ensure it stays at the uppermost echelon of global urban design and innovation.

“Share few of the companies that have already signed deals on ‘The Line’ project and in which sectors.”

Many global companies, conglomerates and funds have expressed interest in and are seeking to partner with NEOM. As an example, NEOM’s Financial Services and Energy sectors worked together to negotiate a joint venture to build the world’s largest green hydrogen facility at NEOM. Two established, well-known companies, Air Products and ACWA Power, are equal partners with NEOM in a plant that will be powered by 100% renewable wind and solar sources. A project like this shows that well-respected global companies believe in the NEOM strategy and are willing to put their money behind it. Air Products provides a path for other investors and developers to consider NEOM as a globally recognized business partner.

“In a 100% clean energy powered-smart city which technologies will be going to play a major role?”

Many new technologies are being implemented to wide effect at NEOM. As we have advanced and seen revolutions in industry, mobility and technology reveal new possibilities, the foundation of our cities has remained cemented in legacy infrastructure. Modern cities can be dense, polluted, congested, loud and devoid of nature – our quality of life is compromised. But what if we could solve these challenges and reinvent the modern city?
These were the issues we considered as the concept of THE LINE emerged. We wanted to assess the biggest challenges facing humanity and come up with new solutions. Tackling climate change is a central part of this and THE LINE redefines sustainability in urban infrastructure. All communities will be powered 100% by renewable energy thanks to a combination of wind, solar and hydrogen power generation.
NEOM will be the first region built from the ground up on digital 5G technology. Technology on THE LINE will be world-leading through the creation of the world’s first cognitive communities, whose main feature is their hyper-connected nature, proactively using data to improve the lives of residents and businesses, far beyond the capabilities of today’s smart cities. Where current smart cities utilize less than 1% of available data, THE LINE’s cognitive communities will utilize over 90% of available data to minimize challenges like unemployment and hunger by proactively matching supply and demand. This use of integrated technology will also more easily defeat the spread of disease by ensuring more accurate diagnoses and faster recovery.

“Are you seeking some kind of support/ tie-ups with the Indian Government and companies as well?”

Working with India, its government, its companies and its people is very attractive to us at NEOM and in Saudi Arabia more widely, and there are many areas for fruitful collaboration. Our efforts at NEOM and across Saudi Arabia and the work of the Indian Government as it looks at its own urban development and rejuvenation programmes share the same goal – creating environments that can combine exceptional livability, a thriving business community and sustainability.

Interview 18/02/2021 by Manu Tayal
 
 
 
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