MEED: Will we start to see more public-private partnership (PPP) projects coming to the market in 2017?
Seymour: PPPs have a lot more to offer than just alternative funding, including more efficient delivery, attractive transfer of risk and operational expertise. While PPP has been around in the region for decades in the power and water sector, it has not been used for the delivery of buildings or transport systems so widely. The need to ensure value for money plus the fact that internationally recognised PPP procurement structures do not tessellate exactly with the reality of many of the local arrangements has meant PPP has been slow to gain traction. The urgency of the need to deliver long-awaited infrastructure in Saudi Arabia has created what now must arguably be the largest PPP market in the region.
How can new technologies be used to make project delivery more efficient?
The dynamic forced onto the market by the oil price collapse has driven innovation in funding and technology. For consultancies, we need to be results oriented and the use of technology offers many opportunities. Studies show technology could save significant costs in both the capital and operational phases of the finished asset. We are now able to automate elements of a design to produce information at a pace not thought possible a few years ago. Clients are impatient to reap the benefits, but until all links of the supply chain are at the same stage of technological maturity, we will not see the returns fully materialise.
Are the strides made in developing solar energy projects part of a broader trend to curb CO2 emissions?
Solar energy has led the renewables market in terms of value for money and cost-effective delivery, proving that it is possible to cut carbon to cut cost. In the Middle East, the need to curb CO2 goes hand in hand with the need to change the diet away from fossil fuel-derived power and hence we are likely to see more innovation in the power and automotive sectors.