Monday, January 19, 2015

Future looks green as cost of renewables falls

The UAE delegation participating in the fifth International Renewable Energy assembly on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. — KT photos by Nezar 

Costs of renewable energy have fallen by as much as 75 per cent in the last five years, especially for solar and wind energy.
 Over 1,000 delegates, including ministers and government officials, have gathered at the fifth International Renewable Energy (Irena) assembly taking place in Abu Dhabi on January 17-18 to discuss ways to help the 1.3 billion energy poor people around the world with clean energy. The assembly also discussed ways to tackle global warming.
A positive trend recorded in this regard is the "massive drop" in costs of renewables. Costs of renewable energy have fallen by as much as 75 per cent in the last five years, especially for solar and wind energy. "Onshore wind power witnessed most price drops in 2014, and it is now available in over 100 countries," said Adnan Amin, director-general of Irena.
As a result of low costs, investment in renewable energy is on the rise. Last year alone, investments in renewables and clean energy worldwide created 6.5 million jobs.
Green bonds (tax-exempt bonds that are issued by federally qualified organisations and/or municipalities for the development of brownfield sites) have reached $40 billion and by the end of 2015, they are expected to reach $100 billion. "Increasing renewable energy is a viable weapon against climate change," said Amin, adding that 80 per cent of the global carbon emissions comes from fossil fuels.
"Climate change has become the driving force for deployment of renewable energy," he said.
One of Irena's priorities is to see more green and efficient energy replacing the conventional sources.
For this purpose, the agency has started working on its ‘Re-map 2030' project, which involves changing the energy habits of the world's 26 biggest energy consumers - including the UAE - which account for 75 per cent of the global energy consumption.
According to Re-map 2030, the US could more than triple its share of renewable energy by 2030, from 14 per cent to almost 50 per cent and thus become the world' largest renewable energy user after China.
To achieve this, the US needs to invest annually - from now until 2030 - $86 billion, but the investment would pay off not only in reducing carbon emissions and improving public health, but also in saving $30 billion to $140 billion by 2030.
Europe has already pledged to reduce consumption of fossil fuels by 40 per cent by 2030, while increasing renewables by 30 per cent and energy efficiency by 27 per cent.
The UAE reiterated its earlier commitment of seven per cent renewable energy replacing fossil fuels by 2020 in Abu Dhabi and five per cent by 2030 in Dubai.
UAE's green pledge
The UAE continues to support the work of Irena in helping communities in need of clean energy, Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, said at the Irena assembly.
"Since 2009, the UAE has spent over $700 million to support energy projects in developing countries," he pointed out.
In 2013, he said, the Abu Dhabi Fund Development (ADFD) created a $350 million fund to be distributed over seven years to communities planning on setting up renewable energy projects that would have a meaningful impact, but lack the required funds.
The funds, distributed by Irena annually, are low-interest ones, with a maximum of two per cent interest payable over seven years.
"We are happy to announce today that five new projects have been awarded with ADFD funds in 2014," said Al Jaber.
The $100 million spent so far is meant to improve the lives of 300,000 people.

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