In Profile: Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO of ACWA Power

Published: February 1, 2017

Creating a renewables power house

Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO of ACWA Power, insists he is “agnostic” about the source of the energy the company he leads offers to clients, but in the last six years has built up its share of renewables from zero to 15%. Phil Thornton interviews Padmanathan from the COPP22 in Marrakesh.

Back in 2010 ACWA Power had no renewables in its capital investment portfolio. Just six years later and from a standing start, 15% of its invested capital is devoted to that sector.

Indeed the man behind the change at the Saudi-based company, civil engineer Paddy Padmanathan, 58, said he “never for one second” thought about green energy when he became CEO of the company in 2006.

“But in 2007 I started to recognise that we [the planet] had a problem and that we would need to cut back on this carbon stuff,” he said. “Renewables was an interesting proposition although it was very, very expensive in those days.”

The company started submitting detailed but unsolicited proposals to the Saudi Arabian officials for renewable power plants that were received politely and even enthusiastically but ultimately turned down. “They realised they were going to join us in pushing water up a hill,” he jokes in an interview at the Sustainable Investment Forum that was run alongside the main COP22 climate change conference.

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