Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Scotland to sign renewable energy deal with Masdar at World Summit

Alex Salmond in Qatar last November
First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond at a Round Table discussion on the shift from a hydrocarbon to a low carbon economy in Qatar last November.
Scotland is to sign a renewable energy deal with renewables giant Masdar, based in Abu Dhabi, in the first agreement of its kind between Masdar and an individual nation.

The arrangement will see Scotland's Energy Technology Partnership, a union of 12 Scottish universities, partner with The Masdar Institute to develop new technologies in wind, solar, wave and tidal power.

First Minister Alex Salmond is visiting the capital of the United Arab Emirates next week to sign the “ground-breaking” partnership at the 5th annual World Future Energy Summit (WFES).

He will be there alongside other world leaders, such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Premier Wen Jiabao of China.

Westminster is only sending Lord Howell of Guildford, the Foreign Office Minister responsible for International Energy Policy.

Masdar, an Abu Dhabi state-owned company, was set up five years ago to wean the oil-rich state away from its dependence on fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy projects.

It has a multi-billion pound capital fund for investment in projects across the world, some of which Salmond hopes will end up in Scotland. He was in the country two months ago, negotiating the deal.

After all, according to Fortune magazine, Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world.

The First Minister said: “This is the first agreement of its kind between Masdar and an individual nation and will work towards developing further university research into renewable energy.

"This landmark deal rightly puts Scotland firmly at the forefront of the green energy revolution and I look forward to this relationship between Scotland and Masdar growing and delivering for all our global futures."

Masdar has several major projects, the most astonishing of which is Masdar City. Situated 17km from downtown Abu Dhabi, this high-density, pedestrian-friendly development is being constructed to be self-sufficient in renewable energy, to test and showcase clean technologies.

It hosts The Masdar Institute, developed in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and its students are the city’s first residents.

The deal is part of a growing relationship between the regions. In November, Alex Salmond opened the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), Heriot-Watt University’s new £35m (ED200m) purpose-built campus and visited the Masdar Institute.

He said at the time that “this 21st century campus will quite rightly help establish the high quality reputation of Heriot-Watt University in the United Arab Emirates and will pave the way for the University’s expansion in the region and further afield".

Illustrating the strategic nature of the relationship, Lena Wilson, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, added that “by collaborating with Dubai we can proactively make it easier for Scottish companies to trade within the UAE, ultimately boosting the Scottish economy”.

World Future Energy Summit

On show at the World Future Energy Summit will be:
  • a 200-megawatt wind farm under development on the Gulf of Suez
  • a 160-megawatt solar power plant in Morocco
  • the US$400 million Shams Ma’an photovoltaic power plant underway in Jordan
  • and 25 other key renewable energy projects with a combined value of US$4 billion.
French oil company Total, a sponsor of the WFES, is demonstrating Shams 1, another large-scale solar power facility being developed by Masdar in the United Arab Emirates.
Total says it views solar power as helping the Middle East economies to diversify and gain long-term energy security.

“Some renewable energies are already competitive with fossil fuels, like onshore wind and certain types of solar. That’s a fact,” said Jean-Marc Otero Del Val, Senior Vice President for Power at Total Gas & Power.

“Through solar power Gulf countries can displace their domestic oil and gas consumption and supply conventional energy to other parts of the world that need it.

“In the solar industry you have a lot of small companies lacking the expertise in putting together large projects. As a major partner of Abu Dhabi in oil and gas and other energy projects, we have significant capabilities in this area.”

Scotland also has experience of managing major oil and gas projects, and is seeking to secure its own renewable energy-based and nuclear-free future, as oil and gas fields in the North Sea wind down.

Whereas Abu Dhabi has a target of producing 7% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020, Scotland is expected to exceed its renewable electricity target, set in 2007, of 31% by 2011, and has raised its 2020 target from 50% to 80%.

The knowledge-sharing between Scotland and UAE will obviously be going both ways.

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