By Gavin Davids
Clean energy city failing to rein in emirate's energy consumption, says author Jim Krane
Abu Dhabi may lose its role as host to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) if the city’s clean energy project, Masdar, fails to live up to its promises, author Jim Krane said.
“Their continued presence kind of hinges on this renewable project,” he told Arabian Business on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.
“Abu Dhabi’s environmental record is pretty appalling, so without having this renewable energy initiative there isn’t a great argument for having this renewable energy agency setting up shop in the emirate,” Krane, a former fellow at Dubai School of Government, said.
The UAE capital lobbied fiercely to host IRENA’s headquarters in 2009, beating three European countries including Vienna and Germany.
The win was based in part on expectations the estimated $22bn state-owned Masdar City project would overhaul Abu Dhabi’s record on energy consumption.
However, Krane said the project was unlikely to rein in the emirate’s carbon footprint, which he cited as being the second worst in the world, per capita.
“It’s a very small city; it gets a lot more press than perhaps it warrants, given the size of Masdar and the size of Abu Dhabi,” he said. “It’s not going to make a dent in Abu Dhabi’s overall energy consumption picture. But you know, it’s an interesting prospect.”
Masdar, which is wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi government, in October said the city’s scheduled completion date had been put back by up to nine years, while its total cost could fall by up to 15 percent.
Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of Masdar, said the vision “as a whole, remains intact.”
Krane, a former journalist, is the author of 'Dubai: The World's Fastest City'.
Masdar is a classic example of setting your self up as a pioneer, you are in front while everyone is behind you watching waiting for you to trip up.
Unfortunately some "Consultants" are interested in their own benefits and not always giving the dedication and results as expected and required for a full benefit project.
Abu Dhabi has to show its commitment completely. There is no artful trick to shuffle out. To blame the consultants is too simple. They shoud have checked these experts before signing contracts.
Abu Dhabi has the responsibility to keep the promises. No more, no less.
I think the issue facing Masdar and Abu Dhabi is a quite simple one of credibility. Their chosen way of development has created the 2nd-highest carbon footprint in the world.
For nearly half a decade now they've been touting Masdar as the solution to their carbon sins, and the world gave them the benefit of the doubt and "temporarily" gifted them IRENA.
Five years is a very long time, especially if you have fabulous amounts of money to do whatever you like. And what do they have to show? A small school and a few small buildings. That unfortunately is not enough to qualify you as a pioneer, leader, or even a part of the solution, as the carbon intensity of the UAE has only increased.
Without rapid development of Masdar, Abu Dhabi will surely be stripped of IRENA. If not, IRENA will simply lose any significance and be ignored.
Abu Dhabi has talked big. Now let's see if they can act big.