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Abu Dhabi puts energy into Irena race

UAE capital to push its hybrid energy economy ambitions to secure bid

Abu Dhabi will push its ongoing commitment to renewable energy as part of its bid to host Irena.
Abu Dhabi will push its ongoing commitment to renewable energy as part of its bid to host Irena.

Abu Dhabi will push its hybrid energy economy ambitions as part of its bid to host the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) at Masdar City.

The UAE capital is also pushing its work on renewable energy research and development, its geographical location, and the existing level of diplomatic representation from Irena’s member countries in the UAE.

The strategy was revealed by a UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson at the weekend following reports last week that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon believed Abu Dhabi had put forward “a strong argument” to host the agency.

“Housing Irena in a traditionally hydrocarbon-based economy is a testament to the fact that renewable energy- and fossil-fuel energy-based economies do not have to be mutually exclusive,” the spokesperson said.

“In fact, a hybrid energy economy like the one Abu Dhabi is striving to become is the most realistic model for the future.”

A vote will be taken by the 83 member countries of Irena on June 29 in Egypt to decide which country will seat the agency. Germany, Denmark and Austria are offering stiff competition to the UAE capital.

But Abu Dhabi remains confident. “The UAE offers the Irena headquarters a location that is a meeting point between east and west, north and south, bridging the gap between the developed and developing countries,” the spokesperson said.

Abu Dhabi has pledged to produce 7% of the energy it consumes from renewable sources by 2020. Meeting such a target would be a huge step towards becoming a hybrid energy economy.

In January, Masdar boss Sultan Al Jaber revealed Abu Dhabi’s intention to become Irena’s home. “Masdar will express loudly its keen interest in hosting the Irena in Masdar City,” he said at the World Future Energy Summit. “We are going to aggressively pursue that.”

Abu Dhabi’s bid to host Irena was officially delivered to Irena steering committee chairman Ambassador Hyun Cho earlier this month.

The aim of Irena is to advance renewable energy by sharing knowledge, develop the regulatory frameworks, and promote the large scale adoption of renewable energy in the around the world.

“These objectives are directly aligned with the UAE,” the foreign affairs ministry spokesperson added. “We believe we have already begun to demonstrate the scale and pace with which we are dedicated to furthering them.”

Masdar City is billed as the world’s first zero-carbon zero-waste city. Sections of the project are due to open shortly, with final completion of the US $22 billion (AED81 billion) project slated for completion in 2016.

The race for Irena: arguments for each competing country

UAE Traditional energy economy, hybrid energy economy ambitions, geographic location, infrastructure, basing the agency outside of the western world would be seen as a positive signal to developing countries, other clean tech companies would be in close proximity in Masdar City.

Germany Initiated Irena, good record in renewable energy research and development, existing infrastructure would ensure the agency was fully operational from the outset.

Austria Is aiming to produce 34% of the energy it consumes by 2020, has a very strong R&D background in the field of renewable energy.

Denmark Has pledged to producing 20% of the energy it consumes by 2011, was the first county in the world to commit to reducing overall energy consumption (2% by 2011 against 2006 figures). 


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Construction Week - Issue 764
May 31, 2020