By Joanna Hartley
None of Abu Dhabi's energy currently comes from renewable sources such as solar power.
At least seven percent of the energy consumed in the emirate of Abu Dhabi will come from renewable sources by 2020, the government pledged Sunday.
The commitment came on the eve of the World Future Energy Summit, a three-day forum that starts today in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE’s goal of boosting its renewable energy capacity is an important part of the government’s comprehensive energy policy, which is expected to be published within the next few months, according to Abu Dhabi daily The National.
Mohammed al Bowardi, the secretary general of the Abu Dhabi executive council, said in a written statement: “The establishment of a long-term renewable energy target for Abu Dhabi builds on the emirate’s leadership in energy and sustainability.”
The decision to make renewable energy sources more prominent in the capital’s future reflected “the environmental legacy” of the late Sheikh Zayed, founder of the UAE, Mr al Bowardi said.
Considering the size and population of Abu Dhabi, the seven percent renewable energy target is considered high. In comparison, eight percent of the energy consumed in China in 2006 came from renewable sources. The EU’s goal is to have 20 percent of its energy from such sources by 2020.
More reliance on renewable sources such as wind and solar power is seen as a way to slow climate change, which is believed to be caused in large part by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
Abu Dhabi’s decision is expected to stimulate the local renewable-energy sector. Almost none of the emirate’s energy currently comes from renewable sources.
Yesterday’s announcement was approved by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces.
It was pushed ahead to coincide with the World Future Energy Summit and was made on the same day that Masdar and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company signed a deal to collaborate on reducing carbon emissions from the production and processing of the emirate’s oil and gas.
The summit brings together scientists, educators, experts in alternative energy sources, high-level government officials and business representatives. Its purpose is to discuss ways to solve energy demand and environmental challenges.
The Masdar initiative was launched to position the capital as a research hub for sustainability issues and energy technology.