Wind power envoy in the Middle East

The Middle East is far more than just oil and political headlines. It is also about securing sustainable alternatives to oil to support one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In the heart of this sits Rayan Kassis – the Vestas wind energy ambassador to the Middle East based in Beirut.

Vestas has a lot of addresses around the globe. Some are more known than others. Among the more ‘famous’ are Pueblo, Isle of Wight, Madrid, Singapore and, of course, Randers. But Vestas employs people in a lot of places less known in the company atlas.

Rayan Kassis, for instance, works for Vestas in Beirut. With his wife and their first born child, he is the Vestas outpost in the Middle East. For a year, he has worked to develop a nascent Middle Eastern market for wind energy.

“It has been quite interesting to watch how the perception of wind farm as a source of energy is shifting from being a ‘luxury’ to ‘a serious economical option’ as both oil prices and environmental awareness have increased,” Rayan explains.

“The Middle East has one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world. Consequently, the demand for power is growing fast and there has been an increase in the overall energy consumption in most of the area.”

Vestas’ Lebanese envoy takes care of almost every aspect of paving the way for wind turbines. With the exception of Jordan and Egypt, Rayan takes care of the entire Middle East.

Collecting information about actual wind projects that develop into meetings with potential customers is only part of his daily dues. In other words, his mission as Business Development Director Middle East is to make sure wind energy is articulated clearly to the key stakeholders as one of the most economical options available to them.

Recently, he met with the Lebanese minister of energy, who wanted to know more about how wind energy can supplement the existing supplies.

“They begin to realise oil is not everlasting. As for Lebanon, a country that has negligible natural oil and gas resources of its own, the concern is very present. The cost of energy here is extremely high, so they are now working with a 2020-plan to have 14 per cent in renewables. Wind is expected to contribute up to 10 percent by 2015.”

Rayan Kassis reports to the Vestas Mediterranean offices in Madrid and Istanbul. But most of the time, he is on his own. That can be both really great and a bit lonely at times.

“The major benefit is that you get to see all the processes first hand – talks with policy makers and key stakeholders. The challenge for me is that our customers are usually at the initial stages of wind energy knowledge, and it is hard to get a company like Vestas moving quickly to support such customers compared to our current work in established markets. "

Rayan really looks forward to the day, when there will be colleagues in the Lebanon office. And he feels comfortable that day is not so far into the future anymore.

“We need the projects landed to make the case for additional resources. Then I hope we will move in that direction. In addition to having a better office environment, the addition of wind and site, services, and sales support staff will certainly be useful to further develop the markets here.”