ABU DHABI: Now that the lights have gone down and the stages have been cleared, we can look back at the week’s main events in Abu Dhabi, the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and Sustainability Week (ADSW), to find out what progress has been made toward the low carbon economy.
The week started with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) general assembly, a two-day event that opens the way to discussions about the close connection between climate change and clean energies. During the assembly, IRENA launched an important report on renewable power generation costs in 2014, which found the cost of generating renewable energy is now equal to or below the cost of fossil fuels in many parts of the world – and this is not linked to the low price of the oil.
“The cost-competitiveness of renewable power generation technologies has reached historic levels,” states the report, and “the levelized cost of electricity of solar photovoltaic has halved between 2010 and 2014”.
Image: LCOE reductions for small-scale residential solar PV, Q2 2008 to Q2 2014 – from IRENA report Renewable power generation costs in 2014
At the same assembly, the United Arab Emirates signed a US$50 million-deal with five Pacific island countries on solar-powered projects, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reports. The isles involved in the UAE-Pacific Partnership are Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and the Solomon Islands. When completed in 2016, the four new projects are expected to prevent the production of 3030 tons of CO2 every year.
“Renewable energy is one of the most cost-competitive power sources to deliver electricity to communities across the Pacific,” underlined Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar – the company that will lead the implementation of the projects.
IRENA was again the center of attention on Sunday, when it announced with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development the creation of a fund worth US$57 million to support five energy projects in developing countries. The fund will sustain projects with a combined total capacity of 35 megawatts, which will bring clean energy to more than 280,000 people, IRENA states.
Lack of access to electricity is a problem that affects the social life and health of millions of people worldwide, especially in rural areas. Many people do not have access to the power grid have to rely on dangerous kerosene lamps, which is why projects like our Bijli – Clean Energy for All are so important.
Video: IRENA/ADFD award USD 57 million to bring power to more than 280,000 people, courtesy of IRENA
The Joint Opening Ceremony kick-started the ADSW, the International Water Summit, the WFES and the EcoWaste Exhibition. Over 3,400 delegates attended the important meetings, to discuss energy issues with world leaders, policymakers, experts, scientists, academics, media and business leaders.
Business in particular was in the spotlight thanks to IKEA, Nestlé, Swiss Re and 13 other companies who committed to the RE100 campaign – which is led by The Climate Group with CDP, IRENA and We Mean Business. Leading businesses are switching to 100% renewable power because it just makes business sense: “We took a 9 million dollar hit to our business after Hurricane Sandy. Climate change is a real business risk,” said Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group. “That, fundamentally, is why we decided to go for a full 100% cover of our energy production from renewables.”
Image: A section of our RE100 infographic
At the opening day, Al Gore was awarded the Zayed Future Energy Prize for lifetime achievement. In August, the Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President promoted a video campaign to engage young people in advocating climate action, ahead of the Climate Week NYC.
Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, announced a partnership with the UAE to implement renewable energies in developing countries. Their joint decision is part of the deal to tackle climate change, as agreed in the Lima talks.
The team behind Solar Impulse 2, the airplane powered only by solar energy, announced the route for their first trip. Their round-the-world flight will take place in March, and will prove the potential power of solar energy. They will fly “without fuel for five consecutive days and nights”, the co-founder and pilot André Borschberg stated.
Video: The Solar Impulse 2 airplane
IRENA and the World Bank presented a new project to assess the conditions of investments in renewables: Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy. It will help policymakers to have a better understanding of the countries where projects for sustainable energy are being planned.
Image: A screenshot of the project’s website