French Cleantech Days: sustainability and energy experts explore practical solutions ahead of COP28

Business France, the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, led a business delegation from France at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi which came to build transformational relationships through innovation and technology to create a sustainable and energy-efficient future.

A three-day program to learn more about the UAE’s ambitious roadmap toward sustainable transformation

The first edition of the French Cleantech Days took place during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, hosted by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company "Masdar", which convened leaders, innovators, and global thinkers to set the agenda for climate action and create the blueprints for a sustainable future.  The French Business Delegation enjoyed a three-day program with their participation in the World Future Energy Summit, a leading international event accelerating sustainability and the global transition to clean energy, where they could enjoy inspiring networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities with local companies. 

The French Minister of Energy transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher visited WFES and met with the delegation to learn more about their latest innovations and technologies driving the energy transition forward. The newly appointed Ambassador of France to the UAE, H.E Nicolas Niemtchinow was also part of the delegation discovering the depth of French expertise that can be a game-changer for the Middle East to tackle climate challenges.

The second day was followed by a breakfast with Abu Dhabi Investment Office, ADNOC, Masdar City and Masdar Clean Energy sharing their sustainable development projects.

During an exclusive round table centered around the topic “UAE & France on the road to COP28”, panelists composed of representatives from DEWA, Masdar Energy and Bee’ah Group, shared insights about their climate commitments and ongoing sustainable projects. The purpose of this round table was twofold: to highlight the UAE’s sustainability roadmap and introduce the sustainable solutions brought by the French delegation.

As part of a knowledge session about the UAE’s trends and developments towards sustainability, Ahmed Samir Elbermbali, Sustainability Market Leader at Bureau Veritas highlighted that within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), countries like the UAE and KSA are at the forefront in diversifying their energy mix and adopting clean energy solutions in order to reach net zero in 2050. Indeed, the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative is a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, following the Paris Agreement, making the Emirates the first Middle Eastern country to do so. The deployment and use of clean energy solutions is one of the main pillars of the UAE’s model of addressing the challenge of climate change, having invested more than USD 50 billion in renewable energy projects across 70 countries.

Discussions focused on decarbonization, digitalization and waste and water management. Sharjah-based public-private company Beeah Group, known for pioneering sustainability initiatives in the UAE, is heavily involved in greening the economy, with the creation of the region’s first commercial scale waste-to-energy in Sharjah in partnership with Masdar and French company Veolia, also part of the French delegation. Veolia established in the Middle East for 35 years, walked the audience through their many projects in water, waste, and energy management in the UAE, creating the first free-of-charge door-to-door recycling service in the country, RECAPP with more than 50,000 users.

The GCC has emerged as a hotspot for renewable energy investments that have the potential to make the region a world leader in the industry. Indeed, the UAE is making progress on its targeted share of renewables, which is set to be 44% by 2050. Developments around nuclear in countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, adoption of waste-to-energy plants, evolution of the hydrogen economy, development of solar systems, and investments in technology improvements for effective management of the existing infrastructures opens a lot of opportunities for cross-collaborations.

For water management, 90% of daily drinking water comes from desalinated seawater in the Middle East. The GCC is the biggest producer of desalinated water globally with the UAE and KSA being considered market leaders. Thus, reducing the carbon impact of the production of the desalinated water is a real concern that local governments are tackling and where French innovation-driven solutions can help for a more sustainable way of production. Raincatcher, a French water retention growth accelerator, highlighted water productivity management as a key growth opportunity for the Middle East’s water sector.

9 French companies pitched their innovative solutions to help the UAE reach zero-waste and net-zero carbon emissions.

Waste & water management solutions, energy efficiency, environmental engineering, digital solutions for optimization of energy consumption, clean technologies such as solar power and green financing solutions were presented to the audience with use-cases.

French company Energy pool as a smart energy manager insisted on the importance to optimize the energy consumption of complex systems (industrial sites, distributed generation, renewable energy, storage asset, etc.) for a more sustainable use of energy. They are currently working with NEOM for The Line project in Saudi Arabia. The increasing penetration of renewable energy in the GCC grid is a boon for French companies providing grid modernization and digital technologies.

Tikehau Capital, a global alternative asset manager, runs one of the largest decarbonization strategies with €1.4 billion of AUM and more than €1 billion invested in companies active in the clean energy generation, low-carbon mobility, and energy efficiency sectors. The Group stressed the importance of bridging the financing gap that is needed to accelerate decarbonization globally, highlighting the importance of the MENA region in this collective effort. They are also a majority shareholder of Egis and Amarenco part of the delegation. Egis, specialized in consulting, infrastructure engineering, and operations and maintenance shared supporting multiple sustainable project developments in the UAE with a wide expertise ranging from rail, road, water, urban mobility, and urban development. Amarenco, a global solar energy producer, shared its expertise in developing distributed renewable energy and agri-photovoltaic solutions. Codra, also presented its digital solution to go carbon-free. Atos, talked about their solutions to digitalize carbon data collection and combine datasets for net zero acceleration. John Cockerill, specialized in environmental engineering, shared great collaborations with key local players such as DEWA with the solar thermal power plant project.

The delegation ended the program by visiting Masdar City along with Masdar Tech Park to discover their high-performing sustainable buildings and urban ecosystem.
This first edition of French Cleantech Days confirmed that French expertise can lead to transformational partnerships to enable the UAE to become a hub for water technologies, renewable energies, and sustainable projects.

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