Energy in motion

How will the growing energy crisis affect your business? MEP Middle East reports from the World Future Energy Summit on some of the challenges and opportunities ahead.

HRH The Prince of Wales appeared in holographic form.
HRH The Prince of Wales appeared in holographic form.

How will the growing energy crisis affect your business? MEP Middle East reports from the World Future Energy Summit on some of the challenges and opportunities ahead.

In January, world leaders and top international industry figures gathered in Abu Dhabi to highlight the challenges and opportunities that exist in the energy sector.

The three-day World Future Energy Summit covered aspects of the energy sector ranging from renewable technologies to green building techniques and financial and personnel challenges.

 

 
If we get it right we will literally re-engineer the modern city, whose buildings today consume 65% of all energy in the world.

As expected climate change was top of the agenda, with many speakers emphasising the need for a different approach in how we use energy resources in the future.

Energy efficiency, sustainable construction methods and the adoption of renewable technologies were primary focuses throughout, with new business opportunities evident for all of those operating in the MEP sector.

The conference kicked off with two major announcements from the Abu Dhabi Government: the commitment of US $15 billion (AED55 billion) as an initial investment fund for the Masdar initiative and the creation of the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

HH General Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces and chair of Mubadala commented: "Global demand for energy continues to increase ever rapidly and as a global energy provider [Abu Dhabi has] a responsibility to continue to meet that demand.

"It is incumbent upon us to balance this to find new sources of energy...the Masdar initiative represents the Government of Abu Dhabi's commitment to achieve that balance," he added.

"Since the UAE is a major hydrocarbon producing country we should expect to be a key player in the energy mix of the future," added UAE Minister of Energy Mohammad bin Dhaen AlHamli.

The onus is not however on traditional energy providers alone to provide the solutions he stressed and Masdar is intended to engage international bodies in finding solutions. "To be judged as a true success, Masdar should engage, inspire and facilitate others to find future sources of energy," he stated.

"This is a global challenge and requires a global response and we believe that everyone - nations, businesses and individuals - must step up and play an active role in developing the required solutions," added Masdar CEO Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.

Masdar's current plans include a university for future energy studies that is due to open in 2009; a 500MW hydrogen power plant; the large-scale installation of renewable energy; and "substantial" manufacturing capacity. Ground-breaking on the planned zero-carbon, zero-waste Masdar City is due to take place during February 2008.

The city is intended to be fully powered by renewable technologies.
 

Why is this so important?" questioned Al Jaber. "Because if we get it right we will literally re-engineer the modern city, whose buildings today consume 65% of all energy in the world, into a model of efficiency and sustainability," he stated.

An outspoken advocate of environmental awareness, HRH The Prince of Wales appeared to be taking his carbon footprint seriously for the event, appearing only as a holographic video message.

A patron of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Prince Charles stressed: "Real sustainable advances on a global level will need both time and commitment...I am struck by the enormous and urgent challenges that we must face together.

"Scientists are now saying the problem [of climate change] is so grave and urgent that we have less than ten years to slow, stop and indeed reverse greenhouse gas emissions," he added.

The prince applauded Masdar's focus on new technologies and renewable resources, in particular the creation of a 100MW solar thermal power plant.

I have always felt that the Middle East has the potential to take the lead in harnessing solar energy," he stated. "Abu Dhabi is rich in fossil fuels for the time being, but it's rich in sun for some time to come," added Dr Klaus Topfer, former executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

But solar power is not the only renewable technology likely to be used in the future. The presidents of both Iceland and Djibouti stressed the importance of seeking alternative solutions, with their particular focus being on that of geothermal energy.

Iceland has been fortunate to take a global leadership in this area dependent on our technology and businesses in the last few years," stated Iceland president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. "It has resulted in the fundamental transformation of the energy system of Iceland over the past 40-50 years; from being over 80% dependent on coal and oil, now 100% of our electricity production is from clean, renewable energy resources.

Iceland and Djibouti are currently working jointly on the transformation of an oil-based energy system in the East African country to a clean energy geothermal-based electricity supply.

Grimsson stressed that the technology for this resource is still being developed and ocean's should also be looked at as a resource, with technologies developed in the oil and gas industries having the potential to play a role in harnessing geothermal energy in the future. Reykjavic Energy plans to construct a 40-100MW geothermal power plant in the country following studies.

An exhibition running alongside the conference provided evidence of the large number of firms on the market that currently offer renewable energy solutions. It also demonstrated the growing number that are seeking to enter the Middle East market.
 

Increasing efficiency

In addition to the opportunities that exist in the field of renewable power, MEP professionals must get ready for an increased focus on energy efficiency the speakers stressed. Implementing new technologies and design strategies that can reduce power and water consumption will become even more important in future, with metering only one of the areas that is rising in importance.

Lord Browne of Madingley, md, Riverstone Holdings cited the trends of high fossil fuel prices, growing concerns about energy security, social concerns about the environment and technology innovation as the leading factors in recent market changes.

I believe that [energy] efficiency's role in our energy future is the only really certain bet that we can make...every business needs to put in place an energy efficiency plan covering all its activities: operations, supply chains and workforce behaviours," he stated.

But architect William McDonough warned: " It is clear that just being efficient will not do enough, it's not up to the task in hand. We have to have new systems and designs.

"A good example of [future opportunities] is in the delivery of electrical power, where an holistic approach to efficiency - including micro-renewables on the supply side, smart metering on the demand side, and smart grids to manage distribution - would result in major economic as well as environmental benefits," concluded Browne.

 

WFES comments in brief

Lord Browne of Madingley, MD, Riverstone Holdings: "In the delivery of electrical power an holistic approach to efficiency - including micro-renewables on the supply side, smart metering on the demand side and smart grids to manage distribution - would result in major economic as well as environmental benefits."

Mohammad Bin Dhaen AlHamli, UAE Minister of Energy: "There needs to be a clear commitment to the scaling up of energy use in developing countries. We must also recognise that oil will retain its position [in the world energy market]."

Sam Bodman, USA Secretary of Energy: "A global challenge that we share is a shortage of engineers and the technical staff needed to meet the demand for rapid innovation. We need to invest in the next generation of leaders to steer us through the future energy challenge."

HRH The Duke of York: "It is in all of our interests to develop and promote future energy technologies...as the global economy continues to grow, so too does the relentless demand for energy. This energy demand is expected to increase on current trends by 50% by the year 2030."

Ismail Omer Guelleh, president of Djibouti: "The overwhelming pace of development, coupled with energy consumption practices, has been evidenced in rising global average temperatures, temperature extremes...and devastating rainfall conditions."

Vivienne Cox, chief executive, BP Alternative Energy: "It is important to get the balance between the problems we face and the opportunities. We face unprecedented challenges that require global action, but we can overcome them as we have unprecedented skills and assets."
 

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