Power Letters 2020: Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO, Masdar

In 2020, Masdar’s global expansion is on track as the UAE’s renewables pioneer opens new markets, financing options and technologies



As a new decade begins, renewable energy is now mainstream – cleaner, more popular and less expensive in most parts of the world than conventional fossil fuels.

Masdar is also moving quickly ahead and expanded into new markets in 2019, including the USA, India, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Serbia. We also secured our first large scale utility projects in strategic markets of our region, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

Looking forward to this year, Masdar remains focused on its mission to bring solar and wind energy as well as clean technologies to new markets, especially in emerging economies where needs are great.

Masdar was created in 2006 with the mission of providing the UAE and the world with a cleaner, affordable energy future. That future is closer than ever.

Renewable energy is now accepted as a viable and economically advantageous way to generate electricity, heat and desalinate water. Renewables are quickly becoming the new “conventional” energy.

The proof is that global investors are getting behind renewable technologies. According to Bloomberg NEF (BNEF), global clean energy investment has exceeded $300bn per year for the past five years, while the rate of installation of renewable energy projects has also increased every year since 2000.

Driving it all is electrification, the new mega-trend. Sectors that have been traditionally the domain of hydrocarbons, such as transportation and industrial heat, are increasingly plugging into electricity grids. This will increase overall electricity demand, the majority of which will be met by renewables: over the next 30 years through 2050, 80 per cent of $11.5 trillion in new power generation is expected to go for solar and wind energy.

We at Masdar also recognise that growing interest. From January 11 to January 18, 2020, we will welcome more than 38,000 people to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, one of the world’s leading sustainability gatherings. That’s more than three times the number of visitors when ADSW started in 2008.

When it was established, Masdar introduced the UAE to cutting-edge technologies such as Concentrated Solar Power and sustainable urban development practices. Since 2008, with its unique blend of expertise in innovation, architecture and design, Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, has been spearheading the innovations to realise greener, more sustainable urban living.

More than a decade later, Masdar is benefiting from its first-mover advantage, leveraging its expertise at home as well as in 30 countries and counting.

In 2019, we became the first private investor in a £400m UK government fund that aims to dramatically expand Great Britain’s network of electric vehicle charging stations. We also entered the renewables market in India with our strategic investment in Hero Future Energies, one of the largest solar and wind park developers in the world’s No. 4 renewables market.

In the UAE, we announced Masdar City as the home of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the first of its kind in the world.

Looking ahead, Masdar will stay focused on its mission to spread clean energy and sustainable real estate solutions around the world. We will also continue to commercialise advanced renewable technologies, work that in the past installed molten-salt storage technology at scale in Spain, and algorithm-driven smart battery technology in Scotland.

Installations of solar and wind projects are likely to set another record in 2020, driven by the declining costs of the technology. As a global innovator and investor in renewable projects, Masdar is leveraging these cost reductions to compete locally and to enter new markets in the developing world.

The strategy allowed us in 2019 to secure large-scale solar projects in Armenia and Uzbekistan, and the opportunity to develop Saudi Arabia’s 400MW Dumat Al Jandal wind farm.

Creativity and resourcefulness are demanded in today’s renewables industry, where competition is now fierce, and governments have scaled back public subsidies.

As it has throughout its history, Masdar has responded to this change and opened up new financing avenues, whether it’s the Gulf’s first Green Revolving Credit Facility or innovating refinancing mechanisms like the one we helped create for the UK’s Dudgeon offshore wind farm, the largest-ever refinancing of a renewables project.

The past is certainly no indication of the future. But in Masdar’s case, one thing is sure: Our global ambition, resourcefulness and commitment to clean energy will never change.