RENEW YOURSELF

UAE 2018 | ABU DHABI | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, on Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), Masdar City, and investing in renewable energy around the world.

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi
BIOGRAPHY
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi was appointed CEO of Masdar in February 2016. He joined the organization in 2008 as Head of Internal Audit and Compliance. Other positions he has held include Director of Corporate Services and Financial Affairs and CFO. Al Ramahi is a member of Masdar Investment Committee, and has served on the board of a number of prominent companies, joint ventures and special entities, including the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm in the UK, the Masdar Solar Wind Cooperative and Torresol Energy. He has a degree in business administration and finance.

Every year, the renewable energy world turns its attention to ADSW. What is the impact of this global event, and how has it contributed to positioning Abu Dhabi as a leader in renewable energy?

ADSW has played, and continues to play, an important role in positioning Abu Dhabi at the forefront of the renewable energy sector. It is the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East, and it has become established as a truly global forum which brings together governments, policymakers, business leaders, and industry experts from across the world. The event addresses a regional and global need for a common platform that tackles a number of critical and interrelated issues. Its aim is to further our collective understanding of the major energy, economic, and technological trends shaping the world's sustainable development. More than that, it is about empowering the global community to respond. The value and importance of ADSW can be seen from its sustained growth into an eight-day event that brings together a wide variety of stakeholders to drive the adoption of renewables and sustainability. The figures speak for themselves; in 2016, we welcomed five heads of state and 73 government ministers to the event, as well as around 1,700 CEOs from different industries. In total, around 38,000 people participated from 175 countries. In 2017, ADSW welcomed major delegations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and India for the first time, and another 18 countries had pavilions. This very clearly demonstrates that ADSW is a global platform that strongly supports Abu Dhabi's leadership position in renewable energy.

Masdar City has become one of Abu Dhabi's landmark initiatives. How has this project set a precedent for other eco-friendly cities around the globe, and how has it attracted global tenants to its facilities?

Masdar City is one of the world's most sustainable urban developments and its name is recognized throughout the world. One of the most important factors behind this is that we have kept true to our philosophy that urban development should be based on the economic, social, and environmental pillars of sustainability, with the goal of providing a high quality of life with a low environmental footprint. This integrated approach has enabled us to provide a workable template that others can follow, especially here in the Middle East. Masdar City is today experiencing the most rapid development since it was established, and it has evolved from an entirely self-funded initiative into one driven by partnership. This allows the city to grow at a commercially sustainable pace, while at the same time sharing best practices with wider industry, which is a key part of Masdar's mandate to support the diversification of the UAE economy.

What are some of the flagship projects you have invested in abroad, and how are they transforming the energy landscape of developing nations?

Masdar has played a central role in deploying renewable energy in the UAE, the wider Middle East, and further abroad. We have invested in renewable energy projects with a combined value of USD8.5 billion over the last decade, of which Masdar's share is worth approximately USD2.7 billion. The gross capacity of these projects, which are either operational or under development, is 2.7GW. We are active across the full spectrum of clean energy projects, from the world's largest utility scale offshore wind farm currently in operation, the London Array in the UK, to a number of small-scale solar home systems. The 117MW onshore Tafila Wind Farm in Jordan was the first commercial utility-scale wind power project in the Middle East. Also under development in Jordan is the 200MW Baynouna Solar Energy Project, the country's largest solar power plant. Our work is truly international, from the Middle East and Africa to Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific.

What are your expectations for the development of renewable energy in Abu Dhabi in the year ahead, and what will be Masdar's focus?

Through Masdar, Abu Dhabi and the UAE are embracing the huge potential that renewable energy and sustainability offer economies to energize growth, foster advanced R&D, and find solutions to global challenges. In doing this, we are accelerating the development of our industry. Masdar will continue to support the momentum of renewable energy development in Abu Dhabi. We can be very optimistic about the future as we continue to build on recent successes, in line with the double-digit capacity growth that the renewable energy sector is experiencing. Masdar's evolution from being a catalyst for the adoption of renewable energy and sustainability into a market leader will continue. We will see this through our ability to invest at scale, as well as through the diversity of our operations.