Business | Analysis

UAE taking on renewable energy challenge

Sustainable development initiatives drawing global praise

  • By Mohammed Al Asoomi, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 21:29 February 25, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Dana A.Shams/©Gulf News

The UAE is making great strides towards the creation of infrastructure for sustainable development, where the country has turned in recent years into a global centre for the development of many of these foundations, in particular sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power.

The UAE’s approach was not confined to the import of technology and generating oil revenues, as was the case 50 years ago, when oil was discovered and exported in commercial quantities. But, the UAE has become a key partner in all phases of production and development through huge investments and the advanced scientific and research centres, such as the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) in Abu Dhabi and Masdar City, which plays an important role in training and development of highly qualified people to work in this area, in addition to its investments in renewable energy.

Furthermore, the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi International Water Summit and the Abu Dhabi International Renewable Energy Conference, which all became annual global extravaganzas hosted by Abu Dhabi in the presence of global leaders, scientists and researchers from 150 countries.

The 2013 Future Energy Summit was attended by many world leaders, including French president Francois Hollande, and where General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said in his speech that “the UAE has provided the world with energy since half a century ago and is committed to its responsibilities as an effective member of the international community. We are working to ensure energy, water and food security to achieve sustainable development and provide a decent life for present and future generations.”

He said: “Abu Dhabi offers a global platform for cooperation and strategic partnerships in order to find practical solutions to these challenges.”

Referring to the immense efforts made by the UAE in laying the foundation and infrastructure for sustainable development, Hollande referred to efforts that can be made in investing in renewable energy.

He said: “We can act together to create this world of renewable energy. It’s an architectural challenge, an urban challenge and an economic challenge. It’s our economic duty to promote these kinds of energies like the ones we are promoting today, and we are obliged to make our planet liveable for the next generation. We can see the demonstration of this here in the UAE.”

The issue was not limited to the talk about it as a number of practical steps have been taken to reinforce Abu Dhabi’s position as a capital of renewable energy. To this effect, Masdar and France signed a joint declaration to cooperate on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which means the development of new technologies in the renewable energy sector, exchange of expertise and conduct of joint researches.

On the sidelines of the summit, it was announced several projects to boost infrastructure for sustainable development. Among these was the announcement of a national work plan for implementing the UAE’s strategies for green growth to be completed by next September.

Since the concept of sustainable development involves economic and environmental aspects that are directly related to people’s lives and the future of present and next generations, there have been some studies on environment and renewable energy studies, including green houses and the importance of breakwater at Port Khalifa, in securing a sustainable system for sea creatures, which constitute a main food source in the Gulf region and the world at large.

Due to the status of companies participating in the energy summit, promotion of modern technologies in the field of sustainable development and renewable energy was a highlight of the summit. The giant General Electric, for example, showcased its advanced concentrated solar panels and gas-powered engines, among other new innovations in the field of environmental preservation, which constitutes the cornerstone of sustainable development.

Swiss companies showcased environmentally friendly multi-use products, while the Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water Authority exhibited several clean energy projects, while the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority announced the implementation of sustainable energy projects, and Sharjah is implementing environmentally-friendly tourism projects worth Dh4 billion.

Briefly, the contribution and cooperation of different countries within the scope of Arena in laying down foundations for sustainable development is clearly manifested through joint projects — most notably the London Array project between the UAE and Britain, which was inaugurated by Shaikh Mohammad as the world’s largest offshore wind farm and the largest project in the renewable energy sector.

This obviously reflects the important position the UAE occupies in the development of infrastructure for sustainable development, not only in the UAE but also in various countries, including the developed countries, such as Britain, France and Spain.

It seems that infrastructure for sustainable development is about to be completed in the UAE through focusing on investment in renewable energy and environment as well as on the development of new technologies and qualified human capital capable of management and innovation. This is besides supporting research and development centres and organisation of international conferences that offer an opportunity to the largest possible number of countries to benefit from these potential efforts and possibilities.

Despite the UAE being a young country, it has all the potential to turn itself into a model and a global hub for sustainable development and development of clean energy sources. Apart from having the financial capacity needed for the development of renewable energy sources, the UAE has the research and scientific database for all topics related to sustainable development, which is impressive for a new country, especially that many matters related to the development of renewable energy sources pass through Abu Dhabi, which is playing an increasingly important role at the global level.

All these developments are extremely important for the UAE’s future in the post-oil era, so as to ensure sustainable development and a stable life reliant on renewable sources, protect environment and natural resources and provide inexhaustible sources of renewable energy, which are the most important foundations for sustainable development.

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