UAE Puts Spotlight on Middle East and North Africa’s Renewable Energy Revolution at COP21

Monday 07 December 2015

Abu Dhabi - MENA Herald:  The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Renewable Energy Agency presented fresh evidence of the renewable energy market transformation in the Middle East and North Africa, affirming the technology’s role as an unprecedented tool for the region’s growing efforts to combat climate change on the sidelines of the United Nations climate change negotiations.  The high-level event – featuring leading project developers, energy agency executives, and senior government officials – cited new cost and construction figures that show renewables are rapidly expanding in the region despite low oil prices.

“What started as a bold energy diversification plan in the UAE has become a region-wide phenomenon,” said H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Director of Energy and Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  “Solar is now the cheapest source of new power in many MENA countries, and we are seeing a snowballing number of proposed projects and policies to capitalize it.  Renewables will now be a major part of the climate solution for our countries.”

During the event titled, Renewable Energy in MENA, the heads of the International Energy Agency, International Renewable Energy Agency, and UN Sustainable Energy for All cited the world-record low for solar cost in the UAE earlier this year as an “ah-ha” moment for the region – when it was clear that renewables would become a mainstream technology.

The executives of Masdar and ACWA Power, two of the most important renewable energy project developers, further noted that the UAE price is now being replicated in other MENA countries.  All speakers agreed that with the cost breakthrough, renewable deployment will continue to accelerate even if oil and natural gas prices stagnate.

“Climate action through renewable energy now makes simple business sense,” said Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar.  “We have passed the tipping point in the market, and the potential in the MENA region is now beyond anyone’s imagination even three years ago.”

The event also examined key market drivers like public policy, the expected increase of natural gas production, fossil fuel subsidies, competition from nuclear and coal generation, and climate concerns.

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