The Middle East's burgeoning solar energy sector took centre stage at The Big 5 on Monday as government officials and industry leaders gathered for The Global Solar Leaders Summit.
His Excellency Dr. Matar Al Neyadi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Energy got proceedings underway with a keynote speech emphasising the growing importance of solar energy in the UAE and regional energy mix, as well as the leading role GCC countries are playing by procuring solar projects at record breaking prices.
“Over the last decade we havewitnessed the growth of revolutionary new energy technology that has started a transformation of the energy sector,” His Excellency said. “Solar is playing a crucial role across the world, and we believe that even greater opportunities lie ahead.
“We are confident that the potential for solar is even bigger if connected with storage and interconnected with different countries where peak hours differ. Today solar is one of the most competitive forms of energy generation and a viable solution for countries around the world.”
Recently released data released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed that 2016 was another record breaking year for renewables, with almost two thirds of new global power capacity coming from clean energy sources. Driving this surge are sales of new solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, which grew by 50% last year, surpassing new growth in coal for the first time.
The development of these new clean energy sources signals a new era for the global energy sector, His Excellency said.
“The UAE is proud to be part of the clean energy revolution that is leading the world today. Over the last three years the UAE has demonstrated a unique capacity for developing world class solar energy projects.”
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the UAE now leads the region in renewable energy production. The rapid growth of solar energy in the UAE has been led by projects such as 1.17GW Sweihan solar PV plant in Abu Dhabi. Another success is the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai, which has a planned capacity of 5,000MW by 2030.
UAE leadership in solar energy has been demonstrated by its utilities purchasing both solar PV and CSP projects at record breaking prices using the IPP model, underlining the huge potential for expansion in the region.
By taking a more strategic and long-term approach, the UAE can guarantee stability, security and affordability for the nation’s energy future, His Excellency said.
“It was with this in mind that in January this year the UAE launched its Energy Plan for 2050. The plan aims to increase the contribution of clean energy to 50% of the UAE total while cutting emissions by 70% and increasing energy efficiency by 40%.
“By 2050 the ministry forecasts the UAE will have 100GW of installed electricity capacity, 44% of which will come from solar energy. You can see this strategy coming to life across the country today with our world class projects breaking records for their scale, complexity and quality,” he said.
His Excellency’s speech was followed by His Excellency Dr Rashid Alleem, chairman of Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority (SEWA) who stressed the importance of making quick progress with the deployment of renewable energy.
“The energy market globally is at a crossroads and has never been in the situation that it is now,” he said. “If you only go back 10 years there was very little mention of solar in the UAE, it was not even being considered. Things have evolved and are moving so fast. It’s nice to talk about future strategies 2020, 2030, 2050 and beyond but there is an immediate need today, not tomorrow.”
At the summit Dr Alleem was presented with a special 'Global Green Ambassador Award' in recognition of his investment in clean technology and business innovation in the quest for a greener, sustainable tomorrow.
In addition, H.E. Dr. Nasser Saidi, chairman of the Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC), was presented with the 'Renewable Energy Ambassador Award', not only for founding the CEBC, which promotes new tools and instruments for the finance of clean energy and technology in the MENA region, but also for his commitment to educating young people on climate and sustainability.
From left to right: Matt Denton, President of The Big 5 Solar event organisers dmg events Middle East, Asia & Africa; His Excellency Dr. Matar Al Neyadi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Energy; His Excellency Dr Rashid Alleem, chairman of Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority (SEWA); H.E. Dr. Nasser Saidi, chairman of the Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC)