COP28: Dietmar Siersdorfer, Middle East managing director at Siemens Energy on the Middle East’s role in the energy transition

Hydrogen and AI are key to accelerating the energy transition
The region supplies energy to the world today and can also play a role in the future with green energy

In an interview with Economy Middle East at COP28, Dietmar Siersdorfer, Middle East managing director at Siemens Energy, discusses the company’s initiatives and accomplishments since the beginning of the conference and emphasizes the Middle East’s crucial role in the present and future energy transition owing to its plentiful renewable energy resources.

Beyond renewable energy sources, Siersdorfer identifies ‘hydrogen’ as a disruptive technology with the potential to expedite the energy transition and decrease emissions, positioning ‘hydrogen’ as a key player in making the MENA region a green energy supplier in the future.

Economy Middle East: What specific actions is Siemens Energy taking at COP28? Could you tell us more about your participation?

Dietmar Siersdorfer: First of all, we are very happy that we are here in the middle of the green zone in our new offices. We just moved in here at the end of August and we are hosting roughly 700 employees. We have done a lot of actions over the last week since COP28 started. First of all, on Saturday, we had a meeting with the Energy Resilience Leadership Group, which was founded at the Munich Security Conference with Maros Sefcovic and Bill Gates. It discussed how we take innovations into the energy space to drive the energy transition.

Moreover, we had the community security conference board, which convened here with leaders on how we can transform the energy industry.

We also had a session with leaders where we discussed with German and Middle East politicians how we can drive the energy transition here in the region. Therefore, there was a lot of action which we did. We had a prime event with the Alliance for Industry Decarbonization where we brought 60 CEOs from around the world here to Dubai. They had a discussion, a CEO round table, about what companies can contribute to the energy transition.

Additionally, there was a pledge all the companies together made where they pledged $50 billion in investments to reduce the carbon emissions that their companies emit by 50 percent by 2030. So, I think we have a lot of actions where we are working on really transforming the energy industry.

Economy Middle East: What role does the Middle East play in the energy transition?

Dietmar Siersdorfer: The energy transition is key here in the Middle East because the Middle East can play a vital role. The region supplies energy to the world today and can also play a role in the future with green energy. There are a lot of initiatives ongoing in countries where they look at how they can deploy green hydrogen and products to other parts of the world like Asia and Europe and others.

We see that many countries are committed to reducing CO2 emissions. At the forefront are Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have committed to a 50 percent and a 44 percent reduction by 2050.

Therefore, countries are driving these actions into their economies. They are also looking at how they can help the world because we have abundant renewable energy here in the region that can help the world use.

Dietmar Siersdorfer

Economy Middle East: Beyond renewable energy sources, what are the emerging and disruptive technologies that have the potential to accelerate the energy transition and drive down emissions?

Dietmar Siersdorfer: First of all, hydrogen has a huge potential to be a disruptive technology. We are at the beginning of the hydrogen economy and many countries are working on it.

We see big projects happening in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE. This is something that will drive the energy transition forward. It will also make the region, the green energy supplier for other regions around the world in the future.

We also see disruptive technologies like AI that are very much emerging. Everybody’s talking about it, and I’m going to give you a concrete example of what it means. In Dubai with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, we have plants that are running where we applied AI technology to the turbines. This reduced fuel consumption by 4 percent and emissions drastically.

I think that these are the technologies we all have to deploy to make today’s existing infrastructure more efficient. In the future, we can also deploy these technologies right from the beginning when the plants are newly built. Thus, we see a lot of activities here in the region that help the world again to transform.

Read: COP28: Safaa El Tayeb El-Kogali, GCC country director at The World Bank on the importance of green skills

Economy Middle East: What concrete outcome would you expect from COP28?

Dietmar Siersdorfer: I would hope that the world unites, that we come to a pledge where we step out of fossil industries and use renewables and the technologies of the future. However, this will take time and we need to agree on a timeline for this transition.

It is not something that happens overnight. It’s not something that you can force by just saying it. It’s something we all need to unite on and work towards the same goal. Moreover, we need to identify the status of economies and give them the chance to participate in this transformation that we are doing.

That would be a real concrete outcome. So far, we have seen very good pledges. We have seen that countries are stepping up to increase the renewables. We have seen that nuclear technology plays potentially a role in the future again and many countries pledged that. Moreover, we have seen that money comes to the table because financing is very important.

The energy transition will cost us, by 2050, $150 trillion. That’s a number that is unimaginable when you write down how many zeros you have. That’s something we have to work on to get this all done. I believe that this COP can make a difference towards that goal.

About Dietmar Siersdorfer

Dietmar Siersdorfer is the managing director of Siemens Energy in the Middle East and the UAE. He assumed this role following the company’s spin-off from Siemens in May 2020.

Siersdorfer leads the company’s operations throughout the Middle East and has been active in the region since 2008.

He joined Siemens in 1987 and held a variety of leadership positions within the industrial, software, and energy fields. His responsibilities spanned across various regions including Europe and Asia as well as global positions.

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