Andrew England

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Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman © FT montage: Bloomberg/AFP/Getty Images

When Paddy Padmanathan first pitched the idea of introducing a sliver of renewable energy into Saudi Arabia’s electricity supply, the state utility gave him short shrift.

The chief executive of Riyadh-based energy firm ACWA Power recalls being politely told to “go away” in 2007 after it was pointed out that the supplier was receiving oil at a “very competitive price”, far cheaper than solar.

It was a predictable response in the world’s top crude exporter, which has for decades happily burnt billions of barrels of oil to fuel power plants, desalination units and industries at heavily subsidised rates. “The incentive was not there”, says the Anglo-Sri Lankan executive.…  Seguir leyendo »

Syria: what is Turkey’s grand plan?

As evening draws in across Turkey’s frontier with Syria, the trickle of traffic passing through the Öncüpınar border checkpoint turns into a stream. Through one channel, dusty trucks, their loads long emptied, rumble northwards back into Turkey. Through another, Turkish civil servants and aid workers head home after a day’s labour in the war-devastated neighbouring country.

SUVs ferry weary traffic police and hardy looking bomb disposal experts. Minibuses deliver health workers and teachers who disembark to show their identity documents to immigration officials. Yet more vehicles carry customs and religious affairs officials. Virtually every arm of the Turkish state appears to be present during the commute back from northern Syria into Turkey’s Kilis province — even sports ministry staff.…  Seguir leyendo »