GREENER PASTURES

Abu Dhabi 2020 | ALTERNATIVE ENERGY & UTILITIES | VIP INTERVIEW

Abu Dhabi's target was to reach 7% renewable energy by 2020, which it could not have done without the help of firms such as Masdar.

Can you explain how the establishment of Masdar fits within Abu Dhabi's wider diversification strategy both for the energy mix and broader economy?
Masdar was established with a mandate to expand the UAE's energy portfolio by advancing, commercializing, and deploying future energy and clean technologies. We have known for a long time that our hydrocarbon resources are finite—the future is a diversified energy mix, a cleaner and more sustainable economy, and less dependence on fossil fuels. This evolution will continue to be driven by the strategy of the government of Abu Dhabi. While Masdar's main objective is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel power generation, it is also contributing to diversifying the economy. Since its establishment in 2006, Masdar has combined its unique access to talent and capital to create a new source of economic value for the UAE. Today, it is helping commercialize technologies in solar power, wind, sustainable real estate, and waste-to-energy, while also striving to help the UAE and other countries we are active in to achieve their sustainability goals.

What benchmarks has Masdar set domestically?
For Abu Dhabi itself, the target was to have 7% renewable energy by 2020, and I am glad to say the government has achieved this. In fact, by January 1, 2020, we will have more than 7% renewables within the energy mix. The vision and strategy are there, targets were set, and the institutions responsible for achieving these targets achieved them. This was one of Masdar's mandates from an energy strategy perspective, though another of our roles is to invest in renewable energy, technologies, and a cleaner future.

How does Masdar's international investment strategy complement its renewable energy goals and mandate?
From the outset, it was crucial for Masdar to learn about different technologies and make the necessary investments in them. Accordingly, it was essential that we understood how renewable energy policy works in other developed countries, so we realized we needed to invest overseas and bring this expertise back to Abu Dhabi. We have focused on solar—including concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV)—and wind, both onshore and offshore. We have brought much of this competence home, which adds to what we have already learned and allows us to develop further capacities and technologies in different areas. In Serbia, for example, we have built the largest utility-scale commercial wind project in the western Balkans. Moreover, we became involved in the offshore wind business as part of the group developing, building, and operating the London Array Offshore Wind Farm. Today, we are a partner in other large scale-wind projects in the UK. Masdar has been a key player in promoting offshore wind and CSP technologies with thermal storage, many of which were not bankable when we invested in them. Furthermore, we are now exploring electric storage for large-scale utilities. We have also since set new benchmarks for cost-efficient renewable energy, most recently in Morocco, where Masdar, EDF Renewables, and Green of Africa successfully bid to develop the 800-MW Noor Midelt Phase I solar plant combining PV and CSP technology and thermal storage. In January 2020, Masdar and EDF Renewables won the 400-MW Du- mat Al Jandal project, Saudi Arabia's first and the Middle East's largest wind energy plant. These projects and initiatives are important, and eventually all of this knowledge will benefit Abu Dhabi. As a global company, our footprint will also continue to grow. Our ambition is to become one of the largest renewable energy and sustainable development companies in the world.