The Masdar renewable energy initiative has received a $15 billion (Dh55bn) investment from the Abu Dhabi Government, it was revealed yesterday. The massive initial sum is just the beginning of a huge investment process intended to turn the emirate into the world’s sustainable energy capital.
The cash injection was announced at the opening of the World Future Energy Summit by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Sheikh Mohammed assured global oil and gas consumers the UAE would remain committed to safeguarding their energy supplies in the future. He also announced the institution of the Zayed Future Energy Prize – a $2.2 million annual award scheme.
Masdar promotes sustainable energy and is building a zero-carbon city in Abu Dhabi that will host future energy companies and research laboratories.
“Today I would like to underscore the Government of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to the Masdar initiative by announcing an initial investment of $15bn,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
“However, to be judged a true success Masdar must engage, inspire and facilitate others to find future sources of energy. It, therefore, gives me great pleasure to announce the establishment of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which will recognise and reward achievements in energy innovation.” He said each year those recognised by the awards will share a prize pool of $2.2m.
“Next month ground will be broken on Masdar city – the world’s first carbon-neutral city. Like this summit, the groundbreaking will be a tangible mark of progress.”
But Sheikh Mohammed stressed the UAE will continue to play a major part in providing the world with oil and gas despite its role in future energy.
“Abu Dhabi has reliably provided the world with energy for several decades. Global demand for energy continues to increase ever more rapidly. As an energy provider we have a responsibility to continue to meet that demand.”
Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, attended the Abu Dhabi summit in the form of a hologram. In his prerecorded message he paid tribute to the UAE’s efficient use of energy resources and said he was impressed by Masdar. “For more years than I care to remember I have believed that we must use the world’s natural resources responsibly and sustainably,” he said.
“In Abu Dhabi you have been blessed with more natural energy resources than most. When my wife and I had the great pleasure of visiting Abu Dhabi last February I was impressed to learn of Masdar’s deep commitment to finding new ways to promote sustainable development of your natural resources well into the future.
“I do applaud the initiative’s focus on new technology, from groundbreaking work in carbon capture and storage to those future energies on which we will all increasingly depend in a world that must become significantly less reliant on hydrocarbons,” he said.
Prince Charles said he believed the Middle East had the potential to take the lead in harnessing solar energy, adding that he was pleased to learn that Masdar was already working on a 100MW solar thermal power plant that had the potential to be scaled up to 500MW.
“I need hardly say how pleased I am British companies are playing a prominent role in assisting you. I can only look forward to this partnership developing and building on our shared ties.”
Masdar CEO Sultan Al Jaber said the investment announced by Sheikh Mohammed was just the beginning and urged the private sector to contribute to the project. “Our aim is to turn Abu Dhabi into the world’s capital or centre of future energy,” he said. “The $15bn will be donated by the Abu Dhabi Government but we do hope that we will get more, especially from the private sector.
These funds will be used to establish the zero-carbon Masdar City, conduct research on potential future energy sources, own property, build more facilities and promote renewable energy. We have very strong support for our initiative.”
US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said a rise in Opec production would be a “constructive response” to the short-term impact high oil prices are having on the United States’ economy. “There is concern that prices are having an impact on economic activity,” Bodman said in an interview at the summit yesterday.
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