His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi:
- Renewable energy projects in the UAE have contributed to reducing its cost to the lowest level globally
- 50% of the country's energy will be clean by 2050
- The UAE plays an active role in addressing the financing and investment challenges facing renewable energy projects
- Public-private sector partnerships accelerate the transition to sustainability in the UAE
Dubai-UAE: 14 January 2018 – The Eighth Session of the General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) kicked off in Abu Dhabi with more than 150 countries in attendance. Running from 13 to 14 January, the session has convened representatives of IRENA member states to discuss global renewable energy action and take concrete steps to accelerate global energy transition.
In his opening remarks, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: '2017 witnessed several achievements that contributed to reducing the cost of energy production and increasing its efficiency through renewable sources. Over the past nine years, the cost of renewable energy dropped by 62 percent and is expected to be lower than the price of coal use 10 years from now. We are optimistic about the future of renewable energy and its ability to expand in the coming years.'
He added: 'Although the GCC region is among the largest oil-producing regions worldwide, the UAE and Saudi Arabia launched a host of projects that have significantly contributed to reducing the cost of solar energy production on a global level and have broken world records three times. The 350-megawatt Abu Dhabi Solar Complex attracted the first record production cost bid of 2.42 US cents per kilowatt hour, while the 700-megawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai received the second record bid of 7.3 US cents. The third, currently unbeaten record for the world's lowest production cost belongs to Masdar's bid for the 300-megawatt Sakaka Solar Power Plant in Saudi Arabia at 1.79 US cents per kilowatt hour.
'Following this achievement, the UAE has decided to increase its target for the contribution of renewable energy to the national energy mix from 24 percent to 27 percent by 2021. The UAE Energy Plan 2050 aims to grow the proportion of clean energy to 50 percent. Furthermore, the country seeks to produce 44 percent of the clean energy from renewable sources as part of its commitment to sustainability across all sectors, especially the energy industry.'
His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi highlighted the crucial role of the private sector as a strategic partner of the UAE Vision 2021. He praised the initiatives of companies such as Majid Al Futtaim Holding that unveiled the world's first Net Positive strategy in 2017 with the aim of achieving a net positive carbon footprint by 2040, and Al Nabooda Automobiles that has announced the construction of the largest private sector solar power plant in the Middle East to power its operations.
He said: 'Despite these positive developments, lack of funding and investment remains a major obstacle to realizing our ambitions to expand renewable energy use. Therefore, we need to step up our efforts to generate funding for this type of projects with global benefits. IRENA research and analysis indicates an urgent need to address this challenge so that we can increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix to 65 percent worldwide. This will reduce CO2 emissions related to energy production by 90 percent and help mitigate the impact of climate change on the environment.”
His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi added that the UAE has always played a significant role in the financing of the global energy transformation. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) joined a coalition of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds at the One Planet Summit, hosted by French President Emanuel Macron in December 2017 to celebrate the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement.
The UAE has also been an active supporter of renewable energy deployment worldwide. Through its partnership with IRENA, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has provided soft loans for a wide range of renewable energy projects in developing countries since 2014. Over the last four funding cycles, the Fund allocated a total of US$189 million to 19 projects.
His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi called on governments, the private sector and academia to strengthen existing partnerships and forge new synergies to maintain the momentum of renewable energy, facilitate financing, and enhance their contribution to achieving sustainable development goals and reducing the impact of climate change.
He noted that the continuous high growth in the renewable energy sector underlines the importance of IRENA that has become the global voice of renewable energy at international forums, supported by its innovative initiatives and invaluable expertise.
His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi congratulated Her Excellency Carolina Cosse, Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, on her assumption of IRENA chairmanship in 2018, and praised the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General and all IRENA staff.