Is it possible for a major oil producing country to also be one of the largest and major ‘green energy markets’?
Abu Dhabi a world leader in oil production is growing on the green future front. From the 15-17 of January 2013, UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi hosted the 6th edition of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) at the National exhibition Centre. The aim of this event was to increase the awareness on a global clean energy future. Companies from all around the world, government funded organizations, ‘think tanks’, and private research groups were all gathered to discuss, share and exchange ideas and innovations to contribute to a ‘greener and better planet.’ Over 650 exhibitioners from 137 nations were present to debate the pressing issues of climate change, renewable energy & a cleaner future: New innovations were presented & new trade & investment opportunities taken.
Abu Dhabi, as one of the world’s leading producer in oil and gas, is eager to contribute to a sustainable and greener future. Internationally it is already known as a regional powerhouse in renewable & sustainable energies. Masder City, a project initiated in 2006 that aims to create a green-oriented city which relies 100% on solar power and other renewable energy sources, was a key contributor at the WFES this year. The challenges encountered by Masdar City are similar to those of the wider community – how best to create a city that is more efficient, liveable, and sustainable to meet with today’s urban challenges? Local and regional governments are working alongside oil giants such as ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, ADNOC, as well as private companies, real estate developers and investors, in order to understand the complex value chain, and how to achieve sustainability using existing technology and innovations to enhance efficiency.
The summit had more to offer than just exhibitions on products and firms, it had keynote speakers debating, discussing and presenting topics on the theme of ‘sustainable energy for all’. One of these keynote speakers was the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations. The presentation highlighted three inter-linked objectives that should be promoted around the world and reached in 2030:
- to ensure universal access to modern energy services;
- to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency;
- to double share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
In order to reach these goals, a close collaboration between the public and the private sector is essential, yet is this economically sustainable? How will economic growth be guaranteed, and is it realistic to assume that universal access to modern energy will be achieved in 17 years, whilst countries are still struggling to gain simple human rights? Is renewable energy going to satisfy our demands and those of our modern day economy? The UNDP is of the strong believe that poverty, access to water, health, population levels and general livelihoods can in fact be developed through improvement in the quality and quantity of energy.
Additionally, Ernst & Young held discussions based on powering the future of clean tech and renewable energy investments, introducing innovations that will assist in countries ‘clean energy’ profiling. These work-shops shared knowledge on the most efficient ways to design and implement renewable energy program’s that will have a direct benefit to local and regional markets.
Abu Dhabi is investing into a green future with the belief that it is the direction in which the world must turn in order to secure energy supplies for the generations to come. The up-coming plan for 2013 is Masdar’s clean-energy solar farm, which on completion will be able to provide energy to over 20,000 homes; it will be the largest solar farm in the Middle East. It is Masdar’s interest to focus on markets that hold attractive incentives or policy mechanisms that promote renewable energy investments. As Masdar’s chief executive, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, said, “With tremendous growth expected in the Middle East and North Africa, we are in a favourable position, as first movers, to be the go-to resource to deploy renewable energy projects.” Abu Dhabi is starting the trend of renewable energy in the Middle East, and the companies who attended the WFES can only hope that the trend passes on to the rest of the Middle East and even the world for a greener and cleaner energy future.
Photo credit: Annemarie Schreyer