UAE’s Masdar committed to environment-friendly region
Dubai - A link between today’s fossil fuel economy and the energy of the future is what Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company Masdar represents, having become a key player in the global, regional and national arena for clean power.
Working on advancing the development, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions, Masdar has committed more than $1.7 billion to renewable energy projects that deliver nearly 1 gigawatt (GW) of clean wind and solar power, not only in the United Arab Emirates but across many countries in the Middle East.
In addition to its 14 domestic projects, mainly in Abu Dhabi, Masdar has been involved in 19 countries outside the UAE, including Jordan, where it recently commissioned the Tafila Wind Farm and has an agreement to develop a 200-megawatt (MW) solar energy plant.
“Jordan is a key market for Masdar in the region. With regional energy demand set to double by 2030, we believe the majority of that growth will be met from renewable energy,” Masdar Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Belhoul said.
“This growth represents a strong business case for renewable energy, not just in Jordan, but also across the wider Middle East and North Africa region,” Belhoul said at a signing ceremony in February during World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
As the demand for clean energy goes up, Masdar is said to be looking to invest in new projects in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.
“We are excited by our new partnership with the government of Jordan,” said Yousif al-Ali, associate director for business development at Masdar. “We have started the development phase of the 200MW (photovoltaic) PV project, which will entail all the required technical, commercial and legal analysis. We aim to have the ground breaking by early 2017.”
The solar project and the Tafila Wind Farm are in line with Jordan’s vision to diversify energy sources and promote greater use of renewable energy and a response to the kingdom’s 2010 renewable energy law, calling for approximately 15% of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, Ali said.
Jordan imports about 96% of its energy needs at a cost equivalent to 20% of the country’s gross domestic product.
“The Tafila Wind Farm will account for almost 6.5% of Jordan’s 1,800 MW renewable energy target for 2020. The 117-MW installation will create enough electricity to power 83,000 homes while reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 235,000 tonnes annually,” Ali said.
Regarding the funds that Masdar has at its disposal to support renewable energy projects, Ali revealed that the company has a variety of models “that support our vision of accelerating the development and deployment of renewable energy globally”.
“Masdar is a partner in several joint ventures for utility-scale renewable projects,” he said. “We are a 20% shareholder in London Array, a 630-MW offshore wind farm in the UK, and we own a 35% stake in the UK’s Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. We also recently increased our stake in Shams Power Company, the developer of Shams 1, a 100-MW concentrated solar plant in Abu Dhabi, from 60% to 80%.”
Separately, Masdar has a private equity capital arm, Masdar Capital, which has two clean tech funds worth $540 million.
The company’s Special Projects unit cooperates closely with the UAE’s humanitarian efforts to deliver energy access to hard-to-reach communities, Ali noted.
“For example, Special Projects has delivered six renewable energy projects in the Pacific islands with grants from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, under the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund,” he said.
As for its objective in the Middle East and North Africa, Ali said Masdar’s policy “is to invest in projects and initiatives that will meaningfully contribute to a secure and diverse energy future in the region. As such, in addition to our current or planned utility-scale projects in Morocco, Egypt and Jordan, we will focus on initiatives and innovation at the water-energy-waste nexus.”
In November, the company inaugurated a desalination pilot project that will test various energy-efficient methods of producing potable water to help address water scarcity, especially in the Middle East.
“We believe that the results of this pilot project will have strong commercialisation potential across the region,” Ali said.
“Just last month, we also inked a partnership with Sharjah-based waste management company Bee’ah to develop the region’s waste-to-energy sector to limit the amount of waste that is diverted to landfills,” he added.
Masdar is wholly owned by the Mubadala Development Company PJSC, the strategic investment company of the government of Abu Dhabi.