x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Khalifa ratifies Irena, confirming support for goals of energy agency

The UAE is the first nation to ratify the statute for the renewable-energy agency Irena, according to WAM, the state news agency.

Lines of solar panels at the photovoltaic electricity plant under construction at the Masdar City development in Abu Dhabi.
Lines of solar panels at the photovoltaic electricity plant under construction at the Masdar City development in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // The UAE is the first nation to ratify the statute for the renewable-energy agency Irena, according to WAM, the state news agency. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, has signed the agreement for the International Renewable Energy Agency as the country bids to be host to the 98-member agency's headquarters in Abu Dhabi's Masdar City, officials announced yesterday.

The ratification confirms the UAE's membership in the organisation and indicates its commitment to renewable energy solutions, officials said. Bonn, Vienna and Copenhagen are the other contenders for the agency. The organisation's members will vote for a site during a two-day summit that begins June 29 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. The UAE bid has received encouragement and support from several leading environmentalists, who back basing the agency in a non-Western city.

This week, Dr Hermann Scheer, a German politician and a founder of Irena, said he believed the competition had become a two-horse race between Abu Dhabi and Bonn. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the nation "is committed to facilitating an active and dynamic involvement of the developing world in the future of renewable energy". WAM yesterday quoted Sheikh Abdullah as saying: "Moving our world toward a renewable energy future will require more than the leadership and participation of a few countries.

"The UAE is in a unique position geographically, politically and economically to bring the developed and developing world together and to bring Irena's mission to life. "The support we have received from countries around the globe for our work on Irena, and in particular our offer to host Irena's headquarters in Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, has been tremendous." Irena was formed on January 26 and aims to promote renewable energy by advising member states on policy, financing and technology. Sheikh Abdullah cited the benefits of nurturing its goals in the Middle East.

"Nations ranging from Europe to Latin America, from Asia to Africa have pledged their support for the UAE to serve as the permanent headquarters of Irena in order to advance the shared goal of making renewable energy accessible, affordable and available to everyone," Sheikh Abdullah said. "Many believe it is time for an international agency to be placed in this region - in a country that creates the bridge between developed and developing and in a country that offers its wholehearted commitment to the cause of renewable energy and climate change."

Abu Dhabi's proposal includes hosting the headquarters in 6,436 square metres of rent-free office space in Masdar City, the world's first large-scale carbon-neutral development. The proposal also includes Dh500 million (US$136m) of in-kind and cash support to help the agency until 2015, in addition to an annual Dh184m over seven years from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development for Irena-endorsed projects in developing nations.

The UAE will cover all start-up costs, including furniture, operational services, and housing and relocation for Irena employees. @Email:mchung@thenational.ae