Thursday, June 4, 2015

Plugged in: The fastest growing electricity market in the world

Abu Dhabi: A UAE renewable energy project attracted worldwide attention for its cost of energy production — the lowest solar price ever in the world. Low-cost financing was the key reason behind it, which was made possible by a stable political and financial system, a senior official told Gulf News on Wednesday.

Dolf Geilen, Director of International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) –Innovation and Technology Centre in Bonn, Germany, was referring to the second phase of Mohammad Bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai, whose tender was awarded to the lowest bidder for under six cents per kilowatt hour for a 25-year fixed contract in January. The price of this Solar PV (Photovoltaic) project is the lowest solar price ever achieved worldwide.

The project attracted low-cost financing because Dubai has a stable political system and it is a financial centre, Geilen said. “It means these factors have boosted the renewable energy sector in the UAE and across the globe [with the project’s global attention]. This has created a paradigm shift in the electricity development in the UAE and across the globe,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the 34th annual International Energy Workshop (IEW) in the capital.

IEW, the world’s leading energy modelling conference hosted by the Irena this year, is being held in the Middle East for the first time in 34 years. The organisers aims to engage with the region and gain first-hand experience regarding the UAE’s economic and renewable energy industry developments. Geilen said the UAE is the fastest growing electricity market in the world. The UAE and other countries in the Middle East have a number of specific opportunities for renewable energy because of growing energy demand for cooling, desalination and refining petrochemicals. “The UAE is the kind of template which could be applied to other counties in the region,” Gielen said.

Opening the workshop, Adnan Z. Ameen, Director-General of Irena, said it is important that Dubai’s internationally acclaimed solar project be awarded to a utility in Saudi Arabia [an oil exporter].

He was referring to the consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA and Spain’s TSK that was selected as a Preferred Bidder for the project.

Ameen said the last few weeks were crucial for the global renewable energy sector as many international groupings such as G20, G7 and European Union took certain initiatives for the promotion of clean energy as part of checking climate change. “There is an unprecedented opportunity for renewable energy now.”

He said politicians have started talking positively about renewable energy because of the proven reliability of the electricity produced from renewable energy sources.
The three-day workshop ends on Friday.

A recent report said the UAE can achieve energy system savings of $1.9 billion (Dh6.98 billion) annually by 2030 by producing a 10 per cent share of renewable energy in its total energy supply and almost 25 per cent in the power sector.

If the health and environmental benefits of clean energy are also included, they could amount to an additional annual net savings of $1-$3.7 billion by 2030, said the report titled ‘The Renewable Energy Prospects: UAE’ published by Irena, Masdar Institute, and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. –end-

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