The world's energy challenges are immense but can be tackled effectively when nations work together
Low-carbon future will require strong partnerships
The UAE's pioneering work in the energy sector, coupled with the UK's rich knowledge base, has unlocked a plethora of partnership opportunities between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. Indeed, we are at the base camp of what is likely to become the biggest cross-border business in the world - low-carbon energy production. That's why the UK sees its engagement with the UAE as vital in sharing expertise and developing the robust supply chains required to find sustainable solutions for today's energy security and climate change challenges.
The UK's experience in offshore oil and gas development, tradition of innovation and acknowledged strengths in engineering and construction, all help to provide the capabilities demanded by a growing renewables sector.
The UAE has long been considered a key partner for the UK. We are keen to learn from the UAE's expertise in low-carbon technologies - not least because it is creating the world's first, sustainable clean-tech city at Masdar - but also for its ambitious national programme of electrification and clean energy.
It is clear that by combining our capabilities, we can achieve a great deal. We are already making inroads through successful collaborations, including Masdar, the masterplan of which was designed by the London-based architect Foster and Partners.
The World Future Energy Summit, the world's leading event for the clean energy industry taking place this week in Abu Dhabi, provides an ideal platform from which to showcase the UK's capabilities in technology, innovation, and research and development. This will prove a perfect opportunity for the UK's small and medium enterprises to contribute to the UAE's low-carbon programme, particularly in areas where demand for skills and knowledge is high, such as grid connection, carbon capture and storage, and energy efficiency.
There are numerous reasons why expanding our energy partnership makes sense.
The UK is one of the world's most attractive investment locations for renewable energy firms, and has given rise to a variety of opportunities, from onshore and offshore wind production, biomass generation, and wave to tidal energy projects.
Moreover, the UK is expected to provide around £100 billion (Dh587 billion) of investment opportunities in the renewable energy sector between now and 2020, having already attracted £15 billion in investments for projects over the past 10 years. In 2009 alone, more than £7 billion was invested in renewable energy technologies across the UK, the highest level in Europe and the third highest globally.
The UK government is not only providing substantial support for the development of key renewable technologies, but is also ensuring that the UK's regulatory environment facilitates, rather than hinders, sustainable energy projects.
The Renewables Obligation, for example, is the main support scheme for renewable electricity projects in the UK. It places an obligation on UK suppliers of electricity to generate an increasing proportion of their electricity from renewable sources. The government intends that suppliers will be subject to a renewables obligation until 2037, providing long term predictability for investors.
For UAE firms looking to partner with or invest their low carbon business in Britain, UK Trade & Investment - the government department that helps international companies to invest and locate in the UK - can help at every stage of their enterprise, whatever the size and set-up, from sourcing suitable locations and finding business partners to accessing financial incentives.
So why invest in the UK, and what do we lead in? First and foremost, the UK is a pioneer in carbon reduction. It is the sixth-largest generator of low carbon environmental goods and services in the world, valued at about £112 billion annually. Moreover, the UK has expertise across the energy sector, from biomass and fuel cells to carbon capture and storage.
Meanwhile, our universities have a global reputation for innovation and are heavily involved in researching new and improved renewable energy technology. Our efforts to turn tidal and wave resources into energy are one example. The UK developed the world's first test centre for wave and tidal technology - the European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkney Islands. The UK is well positioned to be a leader in this technology. In fact, 23 per cent of all global wave developments and 27 per cent of all global tidal developments are in the UK.
Wind is another key sector. When it comes to onshore wind, it is estimated that the industry will expand globally at an annual rate of around 20 per cent for the next two decades. And Britain is one of the prime reasons for its growth. Twenty years after the installation of the UK's first onshore wind farm at Delabole in Cornwall, five of the world's top 10 small wind companies are based in Britain.
These achievements are a fraction of what can be expected and accomplished over the next two decades and beyond. The challenges we face are serious, but together with our counterparts in the Middle East, and particularly the UAE, we can rise to the occasion and help to ensure the future is a low-carbon one.
Dominic Jermey is the British Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates