The Race For Renewable Energy

Greater investments in sustainability are urgently required, say experts.



Investment in clean energy projects across the world fell by 11 per cent last year to $268.7 billion, according to a recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Although countries such as China, Japan and South Africa increased renewable energy investments last year, a major drop in investments by the US, Spain and Italy offset the gains, the report found.

Speaking at the sixth edition of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) held in January in Abu Dhabi, French President Francois Hollande urged all countries to boost sustainable investments this year.

“If we don’t spend… we will have a catastrophe,” he said at the opening session of the three-day summit, which attracted over 30,000 participants.

If countries fail to invest in renewable energy production, demand for fossil fuels will increase and make their prices unaffordable, he said. Risks of global warming will also go up, he added.

It is estimated that $300 billion of renewable energy investments are needed this year.

Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) also released a new report stating that international efforts to double the share of renewable energy from the current 15 per cent to 30 per cent by 2030 are attainable, but that countries need to accelerate investment substantially.

Global renewable power generation will have to exceed annual expansion rates of more than 150 GW per year, compared to around 110 GW in 2011, IRENA said. At current rates, the agency expects a nine per cent gap in achieving the target.

“The good news is that costs are falling, the technology is spreading, and countries across the world are implementing policies to make this happen,” said Adnan Amin, IRENA director general. “With the right political will, a world powered by clean, renewable energy is within our reach.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the WFES, South Africa’s Minister of Energy, Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, agreed that immediate action was needed and that countries must stick to their energy targets.

South Africa aims to source 42 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2030, and is planning to increase investment in renewable energy production from $3.6 billion in 2010 to $5.7 billion by 2020.

The African nation’s ambitious plan has also attracted investment from Abu Dhabi-based Masdar, she revealed.

“We are attracting investors from all the over the world and I am happy to indicate that when I was here in October 2012, Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of Masdar indicated to me that they are interested in the third window [of bidding for renewable energy projects] and the ensuing windows,” she told Gulf Business.

“South African President Jacob Zuma was in the UAE last year for a state visit and in his meetings with the leaders, he made a commitment on partnerships and energy is one of the areas of partnership we are going to be working on.

“We have already said that the South Africa National Energy Development institute must engage with Masdar to see where there are synergies, to see where there is potential for collaboration and to see where they can form partnerships,” Dipuo Peters added.

Sustainable energy company Masdar, which hosted the WFES, also publicly announced several new partnerships to promote sustainability across the world.

The company signed an agreement with France to work closely with French firms to develop sustainable energy. It also signed a framework agreement with Morocco’s Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, to cooperate in renewable energy production.

Masdar also signed an agreement with Jordan, as part of which it will receive competitive tenders for renewable energy projects in the Kingdom.