ABU DHABI // The UAE has led the way to an era of investing in sustainable energy in the Arabian Gulf, the head of an energy agency told the Crown Prince’s Majlis on Wednesday.
Adnan Amin, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) told Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, and guests that the multibillion-dollar energy industry in the GCC now involved all six countries embarking on renewable energy projects thanks to Abu Dhabi.
“It was Abu Dhabi which made the first moves in investment, in projects such as Masdar,” he said. “It inspired the whole GCC.”
Mr Amin said Saudi Arabia was moving quickly towards renewable energy. During a visit there, he said he was told that Abu Dhabi and the example of Masdar were the reasons for Saudi’s renewable energy boom.
He said that if targets were met in the GCC, 116,000 jobs would be available annually.
The UAE was also investing in renewable energy abroad, he said, with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development backing such projects.
For the Middle East and North Africa, Mr Amin said, there was great potential for renewable-energy projects with more than 100 already in the pipeline.
As the population continues to grow rapidly, he said demand for energy would rise, leaving many powerless while the environment suffered with rising temperatures.
More than a billion people worldwide have no access to electricity, and more than 2.5 billion have no access to clean cooking facilities.
Over the next few decades, power demand will double in Asia and Africa and temperatures are expected to rise by 4°C.
One way to slow the decline, Mr Amin said, was through renewable energy, which would decrease pollution and secure power, even for those in poverty.
From an economic perspective, he said it would lower import bills and offer new forms of investment as well as opening up a big job market.
Today, he said, there are 5.7 million jobs in renewable energy, with that figure expected to grow.
Mr Amin said it was Irena’s job to create an international framework to help grow the energy market. After three years of work, he said, the agency had grown rapidly as well as activities around the world.
In three days’ time, Irena is expected to launch a global renewable-energy roadmap outlining the international community’s goals for 2030.
If those goals are met, it could impact the expected rise in temperatures, he said.
Irena will also offer a global atlas for renewable energy showing potential projects around the world. So far it has assessed 18 countries with a focus now on islands – the first supporters of the agency.
He said although islands are often thought of as tropical havens, they face harsh conditions for development where fuel is more than double the cost of anywhere else in the world.