Abu Dhabi pushes back green energy goal to 2030

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Masdar, the cornerstone of the UAE capital’s clean energy plans, cut 9% of staff last year

Masdar, the cornerstone of the UAE capital’s clean energy plans, cut 9% of staff last year

Abu Dhabi plans to generate 7 percent of its domestic power from renewable sources by 2030, a decade later than it originally expected, according to the head of Masdar, the emirate’s alternative energy company.

Chief executive officer Sultan Al Jaber identified the target as 2030, speaking to reporters today at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. At the same conference three years ago, Al Jaber specified 2020 as the date for reaching this goal.

He didn’t provide an explanation for the 10-year change in timing.

Masdar’s CEO also said today the company’s Shams 1 solar plant will be commissioned in the fourth quarter of this year. Frank Wouters, director of a company unit called Masdar Power, said on Nov 14 at a conference in Dubai that the 100-megawatt facility would start operating in the third quarter.

Abu Dhabi, the capital and largest emirate in the UAE, holds almost all of the country’s oil reserves and is expanding the use of solar and wind power in an effort to become a regional hub for renewable energy. Masdar - including Masdar City, a project to develop a residential and business district that would generate no carbon emissions - is a prominent part of the strategy.

The company cut nine percent of its workforce last year after an annual business review. In 2010, it said it would build Masdar City in stages and delayed the first phase by two years to 2015.

The company stopped work this year on a planned headquarters building that would have been the world’s first to produce more energy than it consumes, saying it would examine a different design.

Al Jaber said the cost of developing the city hasn’t changed.

Masdar has set up joint ventures to invest in emission- reduction projects that will produce carbon credits that can be traded under the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism. Masdar’s investment funds have about $450m under management for spending on clean energy projects.

In addition to its 100-megawatt Shams 1 concentrated solar thermal unit, Masdar plans to build a 100-megawatt photovoltaic facility called Noor 1. The company also wants to build a 30- megawatt wind turbine.

The United Arab Emirates is investing in alternative energy as it seeks to free up more of its oil and gas reserves for export. The fifth-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is developing solar and wind power and has built a research university as part of the Abu Dhabi government-backed renewable energy company Masdar. It is also the headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency.

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