Abu Dhabi's Masdar believes COVID-19's impact will be felt in delays of renewable energy projects, not outright disruption. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Abu Dhabi: The impact from COVID-19 will not bring long-term disruptions to the renewable energy sector – any effect will be felt more in the short-term, according to Masdar’s executive director for Clean Energy.

“The main challenge will be delays in all the plans,” said said Yousif Al Ali. “What we are experiencing so far is that most of the projects under construction or in development will suffer delays for a few months.

“The reasons [for the delays] is the restrictions we have in different countries. But, when it still comes to shipping of equipment and traveling, in general it’s restricted and this will impact the overall progress of projects.”

Al Ali said the industry’s future remained healthy, with the cost benefits of renewable energy making it a key component for any future economic recovery.

“What we are providing is still valid… and renewable energy stands to grow,” he added. “We provide competitive pricing, and in order to have the economy recover you need cheap energy. This will allow the economy and industries to come back and to be more competitive.

“For most industries, the biggest ticket they pay is mainly in the energy ticket, and by providing them a low energy ticket you allow them to stand in this difficult time.”

New buys?

Commenting on whether this would be a good time for acquisitions, Al Ali said this wasn’t the case due to the short-term impact of the crisis.

“A disturbance that will happen for a few months - or a year - doesn’t really create a big impact on these asset valuation. They remain almost the same.

“We continue to operate in the same way, we look at opportunities [in the market], but I don’t think the market has really changed to the point where we can find distressed assets because of the pandemic. This is not the situation.”

Spread it out

Al Ali said it was all about diversifying its portfolio and expanding market reach, as he cited Masdar’s upcoming wind project development in Uzbekistan as an example of entering new markets.

“It’s a diversified portfolio which we have to maintain. For each market we adapt different strategies. Our strategy in markets like Europe and the US is really based on acquisitions.

“The next phase of our strategy is to have a presence and a team that will allow us to be in the development side of projects. And so in places like Uzbekistan and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries, we are in general an early stage entrant.”