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Italy pavilion for EXPO 2020 aims to tackle global sustainability challenges, says ambassador

Dubai, UAE, 20 March 2019: The Italian tradition is a mix between beauty and function, said His Excellency Liborio Stellino, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, following a special preview of the Italian Pavilion for EXPO 2020, presented by Carlo Ratti, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati, and one of the architects that designed the Pavilion during Italian Design Day on March 19, at the American University in Dubai. Stellino stressed that legacy is an important element driving Italy’s participation in EXPO 2020 and that the Pavilion aims to showcase key learnings related to food safety and security and future energy gained from previous Expos in a bid to address the global challenge facing sustainability in a more holistic manner.

Providing a brief history on the country’s long-standing commitment towards sustainable practices, Stellino said: “The importance of energy started in 1973, when we had the first oil crisis. From the time, we tackled problems of energy efficiency, we developed a lot of techniques, technologies and expertise. Today, in Italy, despite the lack of oil and natural resources, we save 20% [of electricity], thanks to better efficiency of buildings.”

Stellino said that despite being associated with classic and traditional buildings, Italy has made great strides in integration of technology for modern infrastructure, owing to the expertise of the engineering and architectural community, stressing that innovation is in their DNA. “The close link between entrepreneurship and art has oriented our design in a more functional way,” Stellino said. Ratti discussed the vital role sustainable cooling plays in modern infrastructure, adding that while the Italian pavilion will be generally cooled using air conditioning, there is a move to incorporate passive cooling design elements to make the most of the time of the year, when the UAE has cooler temperatures.

French energy companies eye Middle East market

Citing the fact that many countries in the Middle East region are placing greater importance on improving energy efficiency and setting definitive targets related to renewable energy, Manoel Zenon, Trade Advisor, Infrastructures, Transport Industry, Business France, said that he believes French companies are well positioned to provide the technical knowledge and expertise required to achieve the regional public sector’s ambitious targets. Zenon said this is owing to the experience small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in France have in navigating stringent environmental requirements in Europe, which he said, they are eager to share with the regional market.

Vinoth Ramanujam, Regional Sales Director, AEG, represents one such company. Sharing the company’s history in the region’s renewable energy sector, Ramanujam said that AEG was active in solar projects around seven years ago but that the influx of competitors from the east did not allow them to be competitive and that the company is now concentrating on UPS systems, with a solar division focusing on grid and storage applications. On whether energy storage will see the same downturn in price as solar panels, Ramanujam said that the main challenge is to educate people in the market to move away from “20-year-old specifications” and put a premium on quality over cost.

Julien Pariat, Commercial Exports, Obstra, echoed the importance of educating the market to move away from conventional design specifications, saying that this is the main hurdle the company faces as a supplier of surge-protection modules for sensitive equipment. He said that the company aims to work with end-users and consultants during the specification and design stage to highlight its value as an additional layer of protection for sensitive equipment in critical applications, such as hospitals and data centres. The added cost, he stressed, pales in comparison to the cost of repairing damage and downtime from loss of services. “Not having it means there is risk of damage and premature ageing of sensitive equipment,” he said, adding that this extends to HVAC equipment, which is particularly vital for operations of infrastructure in the region.

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