United Arab Emirates: The Future Centre Of Renewable Energy

Last Updated: 14 July 2012
Article by Lady Elizabeth Riesenburg

Growth in global carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption continued through 2011 as fossil fuels vastly dominate global energy sources. Global warming fuelled concerns across the world, prompting the exploration and development of alternative sources of clean and more efficient energy sources and production, the use of which continues to rise, albeit still representing a very small percentage of total global energy consumption.

The UAE has some of the world's largest and wealthiest oil and gas reserves but is committed to taking the lead as a responsible global citizen, conscious of the threats driven by energy consumption leading to climate change. The Abu Dhabi 2030 Plan and the Dubai Integrated 2030 Strategy are strong pillars for the UAE's unique vision for sustainability. Having carefully devised a legal, political, economic and strategic framework, the UAE has deployed numerous innovative renewable energy projects throughout the country with the primary objective of reducing its dependency on fossil fuels and thereby reducing the UAE's carbon footprint.

The Abu Dhabi 2030 Plan revolutionises the UAE capital city Abu Dhabi, which is eventually to be powered via the use of clean technologies and alternative sources of energy in meeting its initial target of 7% renewable energy generation capacity by 2020. The Dubai Integrated 2030 Strategy contains specific initiatives and sets targets for reducing power demands and total energy consumption by 30% come 2030. Dubai's target of 5% renewable energy generation capacity by 2030 is to be achieved primarily through the development of solar plants and clean coal power plants.

As the front runner on the green initiative in the UAE, Masdar, a $16 billion funded entity of the Abu Dhabi Government, is a prime example of the Emirate's unrelenting commitment to the 2030 Abu Dhabi Urban Plan and is rapidly becoming a leading international platform for solar energy, wind energy and other forms of the most advanced clean technologies, housing the world's largest concentrated power plant in Madinat Zayed, Shams 1 (the Arabic word for â€Üsun') and soon to house Shams 2 and Shams 3.

Shams 1 alone boasts the capacity to generate 100MGWs of electricity and is expected to offset approximately 170,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year with an additional 1000MW at the Shams site which is currently undergoing an approval process. In parallel, Masdar is also developing the first phase of Nour Solar PV Park (300MGWs) in Al Ain, east of Abu Dhabi. They are also constructing the Middle East's largest onshore wind turbine farm with a capacity to produce 30MGWs on one of the most beautiful natural reserves situated on Sir Bani Yas Island on the west coast of Abu Dhabi which aims to preserve the eco-friendly environment of the Island.

The UAE, through Masdar, is also a major investor in renewable energy projects in foreign countries, currently holding a 40% stake in the Spanish joint venture between Torresol and Sener, which involves three solar projects; a 20MGW CSP and two 50MGW CSPs. Further diversifying its renewable energy investment portfolio, Masdar also holds a 20% stake in the 1000MGW London Array offshore wind project, and recently completed a smaller 6MW wind project in the Seychelles. On a much larger scale Masdar, in partnership with Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Consensus Business Group and Siemens has launched clean tech funds with a primary focus on renewable energy totaling $515 million.

Masdar's quest for global leadership in the field is exemplified in its development of Masdar City, the world's first zero-carbon city built on six square kilometres and integrating clean, sustainable technologies primarily powered by solar, wind and geothermal energy which is integrated into the design of top of the range green buildings, transportation systems and shared environments. Much the same can be said about Masdar Carbon, intending to lower the Emirates' carbon footprint, phase 1 of this ambitious CCS (Carbon Capture Sequestration) project includes 4 carbon capture facilities that are expected to capture as much as around 5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Abu Dhabi's Estimada Initiative and Pearl Rating System have already swept through the capital, with Estimada's staged implementation already underway. Built on the four pillars of sustainability; the environment, the economy, society and culture, Estimada establishes a standalone Integrated Design Process benchmarked against existing international guidelines and best practices for new buildings, existing buildings, and community design and development in line with the Pearl Rating System (PRS). In the heart of Abu Dhabi, the mixed-use business district in Al Maryah Island (formerly Sowwah Island), which is to host the Louvre, the Guggenheim and the world renowned Cleveland Clinic (Hospital) will conform with the community requirements of the Pearl Rating System, as well as achieve Gold LEED (U.S. Green Building Councils' LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design)) certifications. Other nearby mega real estate projects in the city of Abu Dhabi targeting LEED accreditation such as the World Trade Centre are further examples of Abu Dhabi Government's tireless efforts to be a world class green city. In addition, the Abu Dhabi Government recently announced the forthcoming promulgation of the Abu Dhabi International Building Code, which shifts the Emirate's energy standards to compliment the Estidama Pearl Rating System in line with the Abu Dhabi 2030 Plan, the Emirate's sustainability code.

In neighbouring Dubai, the continuous quest for sustainable development was fundamentally marked in 2008 with the enactment of the â€ÜGreen Decree', imposing the requirement for all new construction in Dubai World Developments to achieve a high level of LEED accreditation. Since then, Dubai has experienced the development of various residential, commercial, mixed use and industrial LEED accredited green buildings. Similarly to Abu Dhabi, Dubai carefully devised the Dubai Green Building Code (yet to be enacted), setting standards that developers, contractors and consultants will have to follow in implementing eco-friendly designs for buildings by using energy- efficient construction materials, techniques and methods to reduce the consumption of electricity and water.

In addition to green buildings, numerous public parks in Dubai have been fitted with solar lights and these are growing in number, powering the Emirate's environment through renewable energy.

Today Dubai's vision of sustainability has taken an even greater amplification supported by the Dubai Integrated Strategy for 2030, implemented by the Supreme Council of Energy for Dubai, which announced of late the construction of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest Solar Park in the Middle East to be built over 48 square kilometres and generating 1,000MGWs of power by 2030.

Similarly to Masdar's initiatives, Dubai develops and manages carbon related projects through the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence, which consolidated 1.7 million tonnes of emission reduction projects suitable for development under the established Clean Development Mechanism.

Considering other northern Emirates that followed example; Ras Al Khaimah fostered strong bonds with energy researchers to provide clean energy for its flagship real estate project, Al Hamra Village. In Fujairah, the new city centre is a LEED registered project and is on target to achieve the Gold LEED rating under the USGBC green building guidelines. The Emirate of Umm Al Quwain most recently enacted new construction laws establishing a specialist government construction department to facilitate large infrastructural development promoting energy efficiency in the Emirate, as supported by the UAE's Federal Government.

To conclude, 2011 marked an exceptional journey for sustainability in the UAE, which was host to the Clean Energy Ministerial, a summit of the world's leading economies and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concerning energies. Dubai also held the Dubai Global Energy Forum with a primary focus on clean energy, and Abu Dhabi hosted the UNFCCC workshop on carbon capture and sequestration. The UAE, through Masdar, is also the annual host of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), the world's leading annual event for the renewable energies industry. These initiatives, in addition to the famous Masdar Institute itself, which is known as a leading research centre in renewables and for shaping the young future leaders in energy, are all unprecedented developments in the industry and are hard to match. It is evident that the UAE is taking a pioneering role in developing the region's most progressive and scalable projects by using renewable energies, reducing the UAE's carbon footprint and energy consumption and thereby rapidly positioning itself as the international capital for renewable energies, a future in line with the country's unique vision on sustainability for its future generations.

To the extent that many of the parties to mergers today are Nigerian-controlled and use Nigerian financiers, the opportunities for foreign dealmakers are perhaps not as great as they could have been.

However, as the larger Nigerian businesses expand into markets outside Nigeria, they will need more foreign dealmakers for their activities in those markets than they currently do.

Interesting Trends

Fifteen years ago most mergers concluded in Nigeria involved a single global multinational industrial parent combining its Nigerian subsidiaries. The mergers of Unilever and Nestle entities readily come to mind here. Such mergers were motivated in large part by the aims of achieving improved economies of scale, in effect amending the shareholding percentage of a multinational in one of its subsidiaries where its majority shareholding may have become marginal, and enjoying organisational efficiencies.

Because the mergers of that era were mergers of related companies, the emphasis in the legal work involved was on the regulatory elements of actually concluding a merger rather than on "due diligence" and contractual negotiations and documentation. Lawyers have had to do deeper work on "due diligence" and contractual negotiations, and therefore have developed better skills, in the more recent spate of merger deals in the financial services sector.

These deals have been driven primarily by bank and other financial sector-regulatory changes calling for financial institutions to increase their capital. To comply with these regulations, several smaller banks have had to merge with larger banks with the deals to be completed within tight deadlines.

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