Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week: A Sense of Continuity
The 2017 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week was held from the 12th to the 21st of January, focusing on renewable and green energy, and the innovative technology needed to produce it. A number of participant highlighted the enduring importance of oil and gas in the global path to clean energy, bringing the various panel discussions down to earth. Here is what they had to say.
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister and Chairman of Saudi Aramco Khalid Al Falih stressed that “if fossil energy were to be abandoned” for the benefit of renewables, “the global economy will experience a shock.” Nonetheless, Al-Falih also recognized the significance of a more sustainable energy future, highlighting that “technology will enable a more sustainable use of all energy sources” with significant leeway to make “oil and gas more sustainable too.”
Al Falih furthermore declared that although Saudi Arabia “hopes for renewables” and does not discard them, the kingdom will not “penetrate fast enough” to realize the desired standard of living. Al Falih concluded that “if the oil and gas industry stops investing in the power sector… less sustainable forms of energy will be utilized again,” hence why the oil and gas industry plays a major role in shaping a sustainable future on a global scale.
“Any government or any country looking at the future needs to look at sustainability: sustainability of the sources of energy you have, the affordability of the energy mix for your people, the sustainability of the environment, and whether your people are happy with it.”
H.E. Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazroui, UAE Minister of Energy
“Any government or any country looking at the future needs to look at sustainability” including the “sustainability of the sources of energy you have, … the affordability of the energy mix for your people, … the sustainability of the environment and whether your people are happy with it,” His Excellency Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazroui, the UAE Minister of Energy further elaborated. Al Mazroui explained that when the UAE plans their future, they plan “beyond the horizon!” Hence why, the UAE most recently decided to set their energy goals “almost 33 years into the future rather than just a decade.”
The targets set in the UAE’s 2050 vision “reflect the interests of all stakeholders involved” and include a target of 50 percent green energy to be part of the overall energy mix “as we have always believed renewables will take their share in society.” The other 50 percent are allocated to fossil-based energy of which 38 percent is to come from natural gas. “Fossil fuel based energy will become much cleaner and more efficient in the future” reasoned Al Mazroui, highlighting the significant advancements to come in the industry.
For these advancements, investments into the industry will be needed and “all of these investments in the future are going to be for and by the private sector” predicts Al Mazroui. The ministry “calculated that we need investments of USD 192 billion” elaborated Al Mazroui, explaining that “the off taking prices will be encouraging for the private sector to participate and invest.” For Al Mazourei, this is “the only way” how government should solve energy financing, explaining that the UAE will “not sit back and just invest itself” like many counterparts around the world do.
Some commentators however confronted the idea, as all around the world nations are betting on the private sector to invest in their respective energy sectors, thus asking why these investors should focus on the UAE. Al Mazroui was quick to respond: “Other countries speak of 200 or 300 megawatt projects, we speak of 5000 megawatt projects. Other countries speak of a vision 2020, we have a palace that envisions 2050. The difference is, that we provide a sense of continuity!”