The Lebanese architect offering an innovative approach to sustainable design is about how Lina Ghotmeh has caught the attention of Dezeen Awards for her building Stone Garden in Beirut. The story is by Lemma Shehadi in The National.
For Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh, sustainable architecture should come from the ground of the city. “We need architecture that is anchored in its place and climate, not as an object that creates its own environment,” she tells The National. “I’m always relating the building back to traces of the past. I learn about the vernacular architecture and its relationship to the climate, and how to project that into the future”.
Her approach, which she has termed an “archaeology of the future”, has caught the attention of the architectural world, as well as Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. Within a month, Ghotmeh, 41, who lives in Paris, won two major architectural prizes. Last week, her Stone Garden building in Beirut was named Architecture Project of the Year at the Dezeen Awards 2021.
The discrete and slender concrete tower with residential flats was designed to fit the urban make-up of the city, while echoing layers of its history. “Stone Garden whispers the memory of Beirut, its history, its ground. It tries to offer an alternative way of constructing at height in a Mediterranean city and in a hot climate,” she says.
A facade of sand-coloured mortar with hand-chiselled lines evokes the eroded surface of Beirut’s prehistoric Pigeon Rocks on the city’s shores. Their immaculate straightness appears at once futuristic and organic. “The facade was combed as we comb the earth before planting, as a body emerging and narrating the city,” says Ghotmeh.
Yet these lines are also a nod to craft and its potential for sustainable construction. “The power of the hand is presented as an act of healing. When we build by hand, we are more aware of the impact that we may have on the environment,” she explains.
Meanwhile, the building’s open terraces and urban gardens mimic the city’s scars from the civil war. “They transform the scars into moments of life,” she says, “Large windows play along the elevation of the envelope, they open to the city and house lush gardens, bringing nature at the heart of residences.”
The award’s jury praised the building’s “remarkable freshness and power”. They said: “This project is really poetic − it is talking about memory architecture, which is a hard thing to do in a multi-dwelling project. It is going to give a new platform for a seed of ideas in Lebanon.”
And that’s not all. Since 2016, Ghotmeh has been among the architects involved in Hidalgo’s project Reinventer Paris, which aims to transform the city into the first green capital of its kind. For this, Ghotmeh will be designing a wooden tower that hosts a sustainable feeding programme in the district of Massena.
“Ghotmeh is present in the debate about the future of the city,” says architecture critic Kaye Geipel, who was a jury for the Schelling Architecture Prize 2020, which was awarded to Ghotmeh in November for her contributions to the field of architecture. “[She is] a weighty voice in the large-scale project of Mayor Hidalgo, who wants to make Paris a green capital and exemplary for France and Europe”.
Ghotmeh explains that her design approach stems from her upbringing in Beirut. “The city was like an open archaeology, it was always unveiling itself,” she says, “It made me think about our relationship with our ancestors, and the hidden cities that exist beneath us, but also the question of the ground.”
“In the past we thought about buildings as independent environments, climatised and full of glass that just sit there and ignore what’s around them,” she explains. “They could consume as much as they want. They don’t wear the traditions of their place. This is not sustainable, or durable or circular”.
When Ghotmeh began designing the Stone Garden in 2010, Beirut was a different place. “There was this beautiful creative community of designers, fashion designers, architects and chefs. It was a fertile and positive moment. The city’s identity had been developing with the works and voices of many artists and activists,” she recalls.
But today, the entire country is plagued by political deadlock and economic crises. Two of Ghotmeh’s projects in Lebanon, which includes a museum in the Bekaa Valley, have been put on hold. “The failed political system has been suppressing the extraordinary spirit of this city,” she says, “I remain hopeful that change will be possible towards a more just society and environment.”
Nonetheless, a string of projects in France can further push her ideas on architecture and sustainability. She is working on a vast workshop building, called Precise Acts, for the luxury brand Hermes. “It is a low carbon, passive building that will be a benchmark in contributing into an ecological transition in France,” she says.
Yet her dream building, she says, would be a public space along the Beirut coastline that would serve as a universal playground for all ages.
“It would be a joyful public space. It’s a new typology for a museum in a way, that’s not about the collection, but rather the collection of relationships and community making,” Ghotmeh says. “I’m always excited to develop new typologies. How do you really build a public space that’s not just a piazza or the space between buildings, where people find joy?”
Renewables Market to Expand Robustly in 2021 by Nidhi is published on MW Creators of 4 December 2021. Some details of this renewables market particularly amongst certain MENA nations are reviewed and found to Expand Robustly in 2021. Excerpts are below.
The above image is for illustration and is of Enterprise as related to the same topic.
It is the Latest Study on the Industrial Growth of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Renewables Market 2021-2027.
A detailed study accumulated to offer Latest insights about acute features of the MENA’s Renewables market. The report contains different market predictions related to revenue size, production, CAGR, Consumption, gross margin, price, and other substantial factors. While emphasizing the key driving and restraining forces for this market, the report also offers a complete study of the future trends and developments of the market. It also examines the role of the leading market players involved in the industry including their corporate overview, financial summary and SWOT analysis.
The report provides a comprehensive review of the trends, opportunities and challenges in Middle East’s fast-changing renewable energy sector. Updated in April 2020 to reflect the huge disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the report looks at the immediate impact of the virus on the regional energy market, and its impact on the region’s ambitious plans to develop solar, wind and waste-to-energy projects in the region. The report looks at the long-term investment plans as well as the current project opportunities planned or under development across the region.
Mena Renewables 2020 with Covid-19 update is the latest premium market report from MEED, the leading provider of Middle East business intelligence.
The report provides a comprehensive country-by-country review of the renewable energy sector across the Mena region with in-depth analysis of projected investments, policy and legislative frameworks, and the projects planned and under way.
It also details the key government bodies driving the development of renewables in each country.
Written by MEED, the Middle East market experts within the HTF MI Group, the report is a valuable asset for anyone seeking to do business in the Middle East’s energy sector that will help in shaping business development and strategy in the region.
Updated in April 2020, the report looks at the impact of Covid-19 on the renewable energy sector in the Middle East and North Africa, and what that means for business and investment in the region.
Middle East renewable energy ambitions face new challenges
The de-facto shutdown of much of the global economy in the first four months of 2020 caused by measures to stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) is challenging many of the drivers of business growth and investment in the Middle East and North Africa. The collapse of oil prices and fall in tourism and consumer spending has raised deep questions about some of the region’s highest growth sectors.
One sector that shows no sign of disappearing is renewables. While the supply chain for projects has been disrupted, and the commercial model for privately finance power plants has been upset, the region remains committed to diversifying is energy sources and lowering its costs through renewables.
With about 28GW of renewable energy production capacity installed across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), of which by far the biggest component is hydropower with 21GW, renewable energy represents only 7 per cent of the region’s power generation capacity. But with electricity demand rising at about 5 per cent a year, and with a shortage of readily available natural gas supplies, expanding renewables capacity is now one of the top policy priorities for governments in the region.
Boosted by falling technology costs and the drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, most countries are planning and procuring solar and wind projects. Across the region, governments have set ambitious clean energy targets, with Dubai the most aggressive, aiming for 75 per cent of its energy to come from clean sources by 2050. At the start of 2020, about 98GW of new renewable energy generation capacity was planned across the region, with 39GW of additional capacity due to come on stream by 2025.
The latest edition of Abu Dhabi’s World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in January 2020, highlighted the strides that have been taken in the region, and particularly by the UAE, to play a leading role in the transition from unsustainable carbon-production to sustainable renewable energy.
Completion of the GCC’s first utility-scale renewables projects has increased confidence among governments, developers and financiers. This has reduced the cost of financing and delivering projects. The market also expects greater adoption of small and medium-scale schemes such as rooftop solar.
At present, it is countries with hydropower capabilities that have the highest renewables capacity. The landscape is changing rapidly however as a series of large-scale solar and wind projects are being delivered. But as renewables move from the fringes to the centre of the region’s energy eco-system, regulators, investors and consumers must overcome several structural and technical obstacles.
Regulatory reform is the biggest challenge facing renewables. Merging renewable energy, primarily photovoltaic solar power, into power grids requires policy adjustments and new regulations. This includes ensuring grid flexibility and stability, integrating new technologies such as battery-storage and electric vehicles, and establishing commercially-attractive business models. Another challenge is to break the link between electricity and water production that is hard-coded into the region’s utilities.
How India can use geospatial intelligence for infrastructure development to fight climate change by Madhusudan Anand is a story that should be also common to those countries of the MENA region because there are certainly more similarities in The race to zero emissions, between the MENA region and India than differences.
Here are a few ways geospatial intelligence can be the catalyst for India’s smart status ambitions.
At the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow, India promised to reach Net Zero by 2070 — essentially balancing the total carbon dioxide emissions with its elimination from the environment — called carbon neutrality.
However, India is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US, and the EU. The latter two have issued a commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050.
Despite the incredible progress made towards sustainability across the country, India seems to be lagging on a global playing field when it comes to mass scale solutions.
Naturally, there’s a lot of expectations and hopes riding on the government’s initiatives, including on the recent PM Gati Shakti Master Plan, which aims to create holistic infrastructure across the country through the incorporation of a centralised geospatial data platform.
The Rs 100 lakh-crore initiative is envisioned to ensure transparency, standardisation, and most importantly, sustainability through efficiency.
The programme will bring together 16 central government agencies, including the Railways, Roads and Highways, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, Aviation, and more.
The overarching idea is that a smart city is sustainable — equipped to mitigate climate change’s effects by harnessing the power of technology.
Geospatial knowledge can provide answers for most everyday problems, especially developing sustainable smart cities. Urban spaces contribute to around 80 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, they are also responsible for 80 percent of a country’s GDP.
With the intersection of artificial intelligence and geospatial data — including census data, satellite imagery, remote sensing, weather data, cell phone data, drawn images, and social media data — urban planning can be highly efficient and contribute to better living conditions both environmentally and financially.
Astoundingly, the market of geospatial analytics is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24 percent between 2020 and 2025.
Here are a few ways geospatial intelligence can be the catalyst for India’s smart status ambitions.
Consumption of resources, energy, ecosystems, and transport directly impact climate change. Geospatial intelligence can help monitor emission sources through collaborative workflows that harness big data to arrive at efficient solutions.
Detailed maps can help evaluate the productivity of land to arrive at its habitable or agricultural status. GIS also makes it easy for civic authorities to balance nature with humans in urban cities to avoid unnecessary culling of green spaces and wildlife conservation. Moreover, it can monitor and correct pollution and noise levels accordingly.
Desalination Is a Global Human Issue is looked at by nippon.com but with a particular emphasis on the Middle East.
Desalination Is a Global Human Issue
The above image is for illustration and is of Gulf News.
The United Nations Children’s Fund reports that more than 700 million people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water, and 300,000 infants die annually due to contaminated water. Ensuring clean, stable water access is also the sixth of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. There are aspects to the water issue that go beyond health, as well. For example, a paper presented at an international conference on desalination showed that water access is also related to gender equality and equal opportunity in education, since many women and children are forced to spend their time doing the hard work of collecting water, and many children are unable to receive proper education because of their water-carrying duties. Only a few dozen countries worldwide offer reliable, direct access to potable tap water, but maintaining household water supply is also an urgent issue due to aging infrastructure and deteriorating water sources.
At the same time, the international community is focusing more on carbon neutrality. One related effort is the plan to increase vegetation and protect marine life in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, where sustainable desalination technology is essential at present and into the future. Desertification, driven by global warming as well as the rapid increase in water consumption caused by growth in populations and economies, is revealing ever more starkly the pressure on water sources. All of humanity shares the need to develop stable water resources through better seawater desalination technology.
Reducing Costs by Evolving Reverse Osmosis Membranes
Currently, the main desalination technology centers on the reverse osmosis membrane method. It leverages the basic principles of reverse osmosis using a membrane with countless microscopic pores that allow only water to pass through, removing salt and other substances from seawater to create fresh water. Currently, this method produces roughly 65 million tons of fresh water a day worldwide. This is equivalent to 14 times Tokyo’s metropolitan water supply, a city with a population of about 14 million. The main uses for this desalinated water are municipal water supplies, using about 60% of the output, and industrial use at 30%. Reverse osmosis technology clearly offers a significant contribution to humanity.
The reverse osmosis membranes widely used today are made of a polymer called cross-linked aromatic polyamide, a high molecular weight nylon with a thickness of several hundred nanometers. These represent many improvements in reverse osmosis membranes since they first appeared in the 1970s. Today, reverse osmosis offers a safe, stable source of freshwater from seawater and has contributed much to the world, but in an era when sustainable global environmental measures are increasingly urgent, this area demands further technical innovation on the base of the great technological accumulation so far.
The first area of improvement is cost. Currently, removing 99.8% of the salt from seawater to create fresh drinking water requires very high water pressure, along the order of five to seven megapascals. That creates an enormous demand for electric power, and the resulting cost of desalination is about $1 per ton. International associations working on desalination are trying to cut that cost in half with greening and other sustainable concepts.
We also need to further investigate how to avoid deteriorating ocean water quality. The desalination process results in 1.5 liters of highly concentrated brine for every 1 liter of fresh drinking water produced. This brine contains twice as much salt per unit as ocean water, and watchdog groups have pointed out that the impact of this effluent on marine ecosystems, particularly closed ones, is an issue needing attention. One promising solution to the issue is repurposing waste brine as a reusable mineral resource. Researchers are working on ways to reclaim mineral resources like salt, lithium, and magnesium from the brine.
Resiliency Key to Preserving Marine Environment
One key to further cost-cutting and environmental measures, though, is increasing membrane resiliency. Strengthening reverse osmosis membranes to fight deterioration first requires reducing the level of contaminants that adhere to the surface of the membranes. Seawater is filled with impurities like plankton, which can clog the membranes during filtration. Natural organic substances, like alginic acid from seaweed or humic acid from decaying plant matter, are particularly difficult to remove. These contaminants clog membrane diffusion pathways at the molecular level, which reduces their water permeability and desalination rates. When that happens, not even increasing water pressure will clear the pathways. The desalination plant has to be shut down and clean water pumped through the equipment to clear it, but that also incurs considerable costs.
Currently, plants chemically pretreat seawater intended for desalination to remove impurities in hopes of reducing clogging. Although the chemicals used are detoxified before being released into the ocean, they still need to be kept to a minimum to preserve marine environments. From this point of view, more resilient reverse osmosis membranes offer considerable hope because increased durability will reduce the need for treatment—allowing us to build on the hard work of those who went before us by making further significant improvements through this research.
Work on Innovative New Membranes
In 2013, Shinshū University established the Global Aqua Innovation Center, an industry-government-academia collaborative research organization to address those needs. One focus for research has been developing reverse osmosis membranes using a key part of modern nanotechnology, carbon nanotubes.
Carbon nanotubes are nanosized ultrafine, hollow fibers of carbon atoms in cylindrical form . They can be formed from hydrocarbons like methane at about 1,000℃ through metal-particle catalysis, using metals like iron. They are 1/50,000th the thickness of a human hair, lightweight, and many times stronger than steel. Since they are chemically stable and efficiently transfer heat and electricity, they are used as electrode additives for lithium-ion batteries, helping to strengthen battery performance. They are also widely used as additives for carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics, like in tennis rackets and golf club shafts. Since carbon nanotubes can be produced from biomethane, they are also environmentally friendly nanotech material whose main byproduct is hydrogen.
In 2018 Shinshū University succeeded in developing an innovative reverse osmosis membrane by mixing carbon nanotubes with conventional cross-linked aromatic polyamide. Mixing in the optimal amount of nanomaterials positively charged the membrane and reduced surface irregularities. The result was that the impurities, also called foulants, became less likely to adhere.
The practical application of clog-resistant nanocomposite membranes containing carbon nanotubes will enable environmentally friendly “green desalination” technology, saving energy and minimizing the use of chemicals, perfect for this environment-conscious age.
Since 2020, the university has been using nanocomposite membranes for actual seawater desalination at Water Plaza Kitakyūshū, and has verified performance of the membranes against pollutants. These proof-of-concept tests have shown that they can help reduce the need for chemical treatment and extend life compared to conventional membranes. As a result, nanocomposite membranes could allow for longer-term desalination operation, potentially reducing operating costs by 10%–15%. They could also simplify raw seawater pretreatment facilities, another source of high operating costs.
The center is currently working with desalination-related companies and research institutes all over the world to implement nanocomposite membranes in desalination facilities. Shinshū University’s membranes can also be applied to sewage treatment and industrial wastewater reuse, something that has yet to be fully achieved and hold enormous promise for water recycling systems that can benefit both the environment and society. I believe that the nanocomposite membranes developed by Shinshū University, which is at the forefront of carbon nanotube technology, can offer a huge contribution to addressing the water problems the world faces this century.
Distinguished professor at Shinshū University. Born 1946 in Suzaka, Nagano Prefecture. Received his engineering PhD from Nagoya University. Professor at Shinshū University since 1991. Received the ACS Medal, the highest honor of the American Carbon Society, in 2004. Works widely on issues with the fundamentals and applications of advanced carbon materials. A global authority on carbon material and carbon nanotubes. Shinshū University: Morinobu Endo: Pioneer of Carbon Nanotubes.
A Key Scenario for the Energy Transition in the MENA Region written by Roberto Vigotti could be a time-saver for all countries producing and nonproducing alike of hydrocarbon resources. Or as proposed by the IEA, it is a matter of Supporting the Middle East and North Africa countries to help them diversify their economies towards clean and low-carbon energy
The operations of the COP26 were closed just a couple of weeks ago, and it is now time to reflect upon relevant takeaways and how to translate them into action. Despite not being the theatre of the bold breakthrough we wished to see, Glasgow reiterated the importance of some key recommendations that, to this day, are our sharpest weapon in the fight against climate change: limiting the growth of the average temperature of the Earth below 1,5 °C, cutting by 45% the CO2 emissions before 2030, and pushing for a quick and worldwide deployment of renewable energy sources, acknowledging the importance of developing countries.
One of the clue scenarios of the recommended transformations is and will be the MENA region, for some self-explanatory reasons: MENA countries are endowed with an enormous renewable energy potential and a steady growth in their internal energy demand, making them illustrious candidates to lead the so yearned global energy transformation. This belief is reinforced by a positive trend of growth of some renewable energy sources in the Mediterranean countries: in the last decade, solar and wind power grew from less than 6% to 35% in the total amount of deployed renewables.
Nonetheless, the MENA’s contribution to the energy transition is still negligible: its share of renewable energy sources amounts to just 1% of the REs installed globally in the last 10 years with the lion’s share in the national energy mixes still being owned by fossil fuels. The data speak loud and clear: the majority of locally generated energy is based on gas and oil, which respectively amount to 72% and 20% of the total. In addition to the obvious environmental repercussions, the economy and internal welfare of many MENA countries is still tightly bound to fossil fuels, which provide more than a half of the national fiscal revenues in many countries (peaking In Kuwait, with approximately 90%), and are still largely financed by public institutions. Finally, the situation is worsened by the vulnerability to climate change: the local environmental features are a natural pre-condition for extreme weather phenomena, such as droughts, temperature raise, etc.
Hence, many trends of the MENA region appear to be in stark contrast with the recommendations outlined in the COP26, despite some isolated encouraging changes. It is urgent and overriding for local decision-makers to drastically re-shape the local approach to generation, transmission and distribution of energy, as well as related policy frameworks and market segments.
In this direction goes the last report produced by RES4Africa Foundation (“Connecting the Dots, 10 Years of Renewable Energy in MENA: What Has (not) Happened?”). In addition to portraying the current energy status quo of the MENA region, the analysis advocates for a fact-based shift towards renewable energy. The starting point would be the formulation and implementation of far-sighted energy policies, characterised by an adequate degree of boldness without losing touch with the reality: bright examples are Morocco, Jordan and Egypt. The regulatory framework should also be welcoming for private investments in REs, which are crucial to expand the energy access while simultaneously pushing for innovation, exchange of best practices, and a stimulation towards digitalisation and efficiency in MENA energy infrastructures. Complementary to these reforms should be safeguarding the transparency of local markets, thanks to new independent energy institutions and clear tender procedures.
The final step of such a virtuous process will be a progressive reduction of subsidies dedicated to fossil fuels: it is an ambitious and tricky target, especially considering the fact that a consistent part of oil and gas sources In MENA countries is still unexploited. However, we are confident that the renewable sector, if properly boosted and reformed, will provide incommensurably higher benefits, creating fertile soil for the energy transition and its related social and economic improvements.
This goal can be achieved just with a constant and structure cooperation with the MENA countries: let’s roll up our sleeves and work together for a sustainable tomorrow.
Roberto Vigotti is the Secretary General of RES4Africa Foundation, which gathers more than 30 stakeholders to accelerate the renewable energy transformation in Africa, with Africa and for Africa. In his 30+ year-long career he has covered various positions at Enel, University of Pisa, IEA and IRENA. When it was still considered an unlikely option, he was already convinced that deploying renewable energy in Africa would result in a positive socioeconomic impact for its population. In 2012, he therefore embarked on the RES4Africa adventure, to support a wider participation of private players in delivering investments in Africa. He also coordinates renewAfrica, an industry-backed Initiative that advocates the creation of a European comprehensive Programme for RE investments in Africa, to be promoted and owned by EU institutions
Originally posted on Pandaemonium: Josephine Baker poster This essay, on Josephine Baker, Éric Zemmour and universalism in French politics, was my Observer column this week. It was published on 5 December 2021, under the headline “How can a country that hails Josephine Baker take the racist Zemmour seriously?” “How does it feel to be a white man?”…
Tunisia is the country with the highest rate of erosion for eroding sections, which are losing 2.4 meter a year on average, causing an estimated annual asset destruction cost amounting to the equivalent of 2.8% of the country’s GDP
By Joanna Allan, Northumbria University, Newcastle Morocco has positioned itself as a global leader in the fight against climate change, with one of the highest-rated national action plans. But though the north African country intends to generate half its electricity from renewables by 2030, its plans show that much of this energy will come from […]
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