By Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi
Predictions For 2020: The financial community is now responding to the growing public demand for climate action.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Jordan and Morocco are leading the transition to cleaner power sources in the Middle East & North Africa.
Noor Abu Dhabi, currently the world’s largest single-site solar park at nearly 1.2 gigawatts (GW), launched in 2019. Dubai will soon inaugurate the 800 megawatt (MW) third phase of its 5GW Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, a project Masdar has proudly delivered alongside Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), EDF Renewables and our many other partners.
Saudi Arabia’s pledge to install nearly 60GW of solar and wind energy by 2030 will continue to dominate the renewable energy conversation regionally. Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, confidently announced that the kingdom would become the world’s most reliable provider of solar power, just as it is today its most dependable supplier of oil.
Similarly, Oman has launched an ambitious programme to both diversify its economy and strengthen its power infrastructure. Recent utility-scale solar PV tenders are evidence of this, with the Sultanate targeting a 30 percent share of its electricity mix for renewables by 2030. Masdar is already present in Oman through the Dhofar wind farm and actively pursuing more opportunities there.
"As the first Arab world signatory to the Paris Agreement... the UAE is ideally positioned to reassert its credentials as a global sustainability leader"
Encouragingly, the financial community is responding to the growing public demand for climate action, offering bonds and loans linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals to encourage green projects. Incentive schemes, such as the IFC’s Scaling Solar programme, are also emboldening investors to enter developing countries.
As host of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), Masdar is a keen supporter of the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum and a signatory to its Sustainable Finance Declaration.
Improved access to financing, technological progress, and regulatory support for clean technologies will further enhance the cost competitiveness of renewable energy vis-a-vis conventional power generation. India is a case in point, where today solar power is competing with electricity from coal. Emerging markets, and in particular South Asia, which is experiencing robust economic and population growth, will continue to assert themselves as renewable energy leaders.
Cheaper renewables are unlocking new markets. In 2019, Masdar announced its entry into Central Asia, with agreements to develop 400MW and 100MW of solar power projects in Armenia and Uzbekistan, respectively.
Since 2008, Masdar City in Abu Dhabi has been a hub for innovation in sustainable urban development and cutting-edge pilot projects, including those in solar power, energy storage, green farming and biofuels. The wider adoption of smart metering, smart appliances and other smart city technologies will further integrate renewable sources into our energy systems. Distributed renewable energy sources will become more prevalent, with consumers supplied by smaller power plants and even their rooftop solar panels.
The UAE has announced 2020 as the year of preparations for its Golden Jubilee in 2021 and the coming 50 years. Welcoming tens of thousands of attendees from more than 170 countries, ADSW will be the ideal platform to seize the many opportunities, and to confront the many challenges, to build a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.
There are only 10 years left to realise the Sustainable Development Goals. This year, all signatories to the Paris Agreement must produce their post-2020 climate actions, known as nationally determined contributions.
The United States will exit from the accord in November. The UN’s climate change negotiations (COP25) concluded with other major economies reluctant to raise their targets.
ADSW can help to address the missed opportunities of COP. As the first Arab world signatory to the Paris Agreement, and the proud host of Expo 2020 in Dubai, which has sustainability as one of its core themes, the UAE is ideally positioned to reassert its credentials as a global sustainability leader.