At NEOM, a region in northwest Saudi Arabia, scientists, urban planners and environmental experts are leading the way on climate change and promoting renewable energy. There, innovators from around the world have come to build THE LINE, a 170km belt of hyper-connected future communities designed to prioritise sustainability, promote nature and rethink the conceptions of modern life.
Redefining sustainability, NEOM and THE LINE will comprise carbon-positive urban developments powered by 100% clean energy, providing pollution-free, healthier and more sustainable environments for residents.
Even with rich potential for renewable energy, NEOM is still dedicated to solving many of the problems that have prevented reusable energy from being a 100% reliable source of power in other contexts, such as when there is insufficient wind or sun or inefficient ways to store excess power.
“NEOM is built specifically with these challenges in mind”, says Peter Terium, Head of Energy. The communities’ microgrids will be connected through the underlying infrastructure of THE LINE, called THE SPINE. According to Terium, “when one grid is in oversupply, and another one is needing electricity, through THE SPINE, all of that can be connected.” The system will allow for local generation and consumption of power but will combine it with advanced connectivity that will allow energy distribution to be finely optimised.
NEOM will take full advantage of the nearby coastline and plentiful sunshine. The availability of high levels of cost-effective renewable electricity is integral. This can only be found in a few countries in the world. Saudi Arabia, with abundant potential for low-cost solar and wind energy, is one of them. Nature is at the heart of THE LINE’s vision, and it will honour the surrounding environment by making it easily accessible to residents within just five minutes whilst generating power in ways that protect the region’s natural beauty.
NEOM is a region being built from the ground up. As such, it constitutes a rare opportunity to create infrastructure from scratch around clean energy rather than transitioning legacy infrastructure off of older models of energy production. In this way, NEOM is creating a testing ground for the technologies and holistic systems that countries like India could adopt to meet its ambitious climate goals.
THE LINE will become a hub for the development and implementation of cutting-edge clean energy generation, manufacturing research and innovation. It will serve as living proof that, with the right tools, clean energy can stand on its own. Terium describes the project as “groundbreaking” and says it holds the potential to change “the whole way we look at urbanisation into the future.”
Dr Ganesh Kishore, NEOM Advisory Board Member, said, “As NEOM becomes a hub for innovation where global business and emerging players can research, incubate and commercialise ground-breaking technologies to accelerate human progress, we will see the rewards in Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification and the Red Sea region as a whole.”
The problem of greenhouse gases and rising temperatures will require a global solution, and it is heartening to see countries across the globe like India and Saudi Arabia making ambitious commitments to address it. As India and others prepare for an unprecedented reorientation of their economies to reach carbon neutrality, Saudi Arabia and NEOM aim to jumpstart that process, developing a sustainable energy production model and living that can be applied elsewhere.