Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | July 3, 2014

The Stone Age Didn’t End For Lack of Stones

Interesting article in the Guardian by Andrew Winston that might point to a glimmer of hope regarding oil rich countries embracing sustainable energy sources…

solar saudi

Oil-rich United Arab Emirates aims to be a sustainable energy pioneer

One of the world’s richest oil-based economies is embracing sustainable technologies, and making a surprise bid to become a clean energy leader…
Imagine if you and your extended family were digging in the backyard and found something valuable like, say, 10% of the world’s oil reserves. That’s the story of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a small country with big assets and bigger ambitions.

UAE should be a powerful defender of the status quo on energy use. Denying climate change would also make tremendous sense. But this country is attempting a pivot of historic proportions, trying to build a oil-free future in the desert. UAE has become a major player in clean technologies, funding large-scale renewable energy projects around the world, and investing millions in fundamental research (in partnership with MIT) in energy, water, microelectronics, advanced materials, and transportation systems.

Earlier this year, I spent a few days in Abu Dhabi (on a press trip with travel paid for by the PR firm that represents Masdar and the UAE), attending the city’s annual World Future of Energy summit and spoke with key executives from the country’s clean energy business arm. In recent weeks, I was struck by the difference between the UAE’s approach and that of a similar sized entity, ExxonMobil. The oil company released a long statement on the risk of its oil and gas assets being “stranded” (that is, made worthless) by the world’s potential pivot away from fossil fuels.

Not surprisingly, Exxon said there was no real risk to its investors – it would burn all the fuel it has in reserve, climate change be damned, because a) the world’s poor and growing middle classes need energy and b) the world’s governments would not take strong enough policy action to seriously reduce carbon emissions. On the latter point, sadly, the company may be right. On the first, though, it was top-notch propaganda to conflate the need for energy to a need for their form of carbon-based energy. We can provide carbon-free energy to the world, with or without Exxon.

In comparison to Exxon’s backward-looking position, the UAE seems positively progressive on clean energy. At the Future of Energy Summit, UAE leaders announced a partnership with Denmark, and with Vestas Wind in particular, to tackle energy poverty in the developing world. The Wind for Prosperity project will offer carbon-free electricity to those who mostly use very expensive diesel generators for power. This partnership is only one example of the UAE’s strategy to help bring about a clean economy future, which, according to Bader Al Lamki, the director of Masdar Clean Energy, has two major elements… to read the whole article click here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: