Partnership in clean energy prospers


By Guy Warrington

While fossil fuels may have been the framework within which energy co-operation between the UK and the UAE began, we are now increasingly focusing on working together to develop and pioneer new technologies based on alternative and renewable energy.

Abu DhabiThe Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company’s Masdar City is the prime example. This features the expertise of British companies such as Foster+Partners, which has designed the city’s Master Plan and completed the recently inaugurated Masdar Institute, and Mott MacDonald, which is delivering infrastructure development and design.

The Masdar Institute complex uses 51 per cent less energy than a typical building of its size.

Further collaboration between the UK and the UAE is reflected in the work being done on the London Array, an offshore wind farm under construction in the Thames Estuary, which will generate enough power for almost 500,000 homes.

Its first foundations were installed last month, and it is expected to become the world’s largest offshore wind farm when completed. Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, has invested more than Dh1.7 billion (US$462.8 million) in this project through Masdar.

Both our governments recognise that energy sources of the future must diversify. However, in the short term, reality will follow vision only if profitability is not compromised.

Adapting to an uncertain climate: a world of commercial opportunities, an Economist Intelligence Unit report commissioned by UK Trade & Investment, focuses on the commercialisation of low-carbon goods and services.

About 150 companies based in the Gulf, among a global total of more than 700, were polled about the potential business opportunities involved in adapting to anticipated changes in the global climate.

The results show that while the Middle East and Africa are right on the global average in responding actively in terms of planning or adapting to the effects of climate change, the UAE is well above the average in taking action on these issues. This is not surprising, given the leadership the UAE has shown in committing to a low-carbon economy, which is leading a drive of wider engagement by the business community.

It has become clear that successful businesses of the future will be those that see the opportunities, and act on them.

Many British companies, such as Atkins, the engineering consultancy responsible for UAE landmarks such as the Burj Al Arab and the Dubai Metro, have embraced the challenge, building adaptation into their short and long-term business plans. Professional service companies, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers in the UK, have teams to help businesses capitalise on climate-fuelled opportunities, as well as manage the risks.

The British government is also working to boost investment and create innovation in the UK energy market by creating a green investment bank, and launching an ambitious electricity market reform programme.

These present great opportunities for future partnership, especially given the UAE’s commitment to being a world-class low-carbon leader.

Areas for future development include the world’s largest offshore wind regime and new nuclear power construction across the UK.

While climate change is an issue that will affect businesses in all sectors of the economy, creating, identifying and acting on opportunities for innovation and commercialisation are significant.

By working together in partnership, as governments and through enterprise, the UK and the UAE can lead the way in securing prosperity through adaptation, for today, and for generations to come.