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Questions and Answers to HE the Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development on the occasion of the World Future Energy Summit 2011 in Abu Dhabi  

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Questions and Answers to HE the Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development on the occasion of the World Future Energy Summit 2011 in Abu Dhabi  

Sunday, January 23, 2011
Q: What are the key directions of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi for the upcoming stage regarding the Alternative Energy Projects? Masdar city is a clear example on the directions of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in this regard. Anyone reviewing Masdar projects can completely understand the great attention and interest dedicated by the wise leadership of the UAE to ensure taking the leading position in the area of renewable and clean energy in the region. Therefore, investment in these projects is one of the key directions of Abu Dhabi Government.   In this respect, we cannot overlook the recent alliances conducted by Abu Dhabi Government with the developed countries in this area, such as South Korea, which has signed with the UAE an agreement to establish four plants for peaceful nuclear energy in the UAE at a cost of $ 20.4 billion, and the first step of such agreement commenced with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation submitting permit request to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation to create the first and second nuclear plants at Braka in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. Q: The major characteristic of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 is the direction towards a knowledge-based economy. To what extent can this goal be achieved in the context of Abu Dhabi’s efforts to realization of alternative energy projects?The efforts taken by Abu Dhabi Government in the transfer of alternative energy technology is the most important option in the next stage, but it remains mainly associated with nationalization of this sector. This has been reflected through the good efforts made by the government through the “Masdar” company, expectations from nationalization of the renewable energy technology, as well as building up national capabilities able to manage and develop this technology.The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation also strives to provide a national staff to operate of the first nuclear power plants that will be completed in 2017. This will be made by sending exchange students from institutes and colleges of applied technology to South Korea for training and rehabilitation programs in order to achieve at least 60% of nationalization of this future sector.From this point, and in the context of the alternative energy projects to be implemented in the coming years, Abu Dhabi Government is seeking to embrace technological innovation directed to this sector and at the same time to benefit from the experiences of major world players such as Korea, Germany, the United States of America, France and others. Q: Abu Dhabi has declared its orientation towards the achievement of the highest rates in the GDP of the non-oil sectors by the year 2030 through strengthening major specialized industries. Would such orientation affect Abu Dhabi's efforts to keep clean environment taking into consideration environmental pollution caused by these industries as it is the case in the major industrialized countries? In fact, orientation towards building the industry sector is so necessary and important that it would contribute to promoting the growth rates of the non-oil sectors in GDP, in addition to opening new investments, creating jobs and achievement of pursued economic development.However, it is not necessarily that this orientation would affect the environment. Abu Dhabi Government is currently working on a strategy for the industrial sector and the most prominent feature of such strategy is establishing eco-friendly high-tech national industry. This strategy requires industrial plants to use natural gas as the main fuel and low-sulfur diesel as a secondary fuel or in emergency cases. The strategy also calls for using renewable energy technology.We would like to point out that the stand of the Department of Economic Development in this great event has taken care to host some of the factories operating in the emirate, which are working on this direction and is keen on production of eco-friendly alternative and renewable energy. Q: The World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi is an ideal platform for Abu Dhabi to review before the world its directions towards the establishment of a broad base of alternative energy. To what extent can Abu Dhabi benefit from this global event? Hosting such an event is a benefit in itself for the Emirate Abu Dhabi; on the one hand, it confirms the leading role played by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the field of renewable energy, on the other hand, it is a platform for dialogue and exchange of academic and practical ideas to find solutions for safe and sustainable energy. Moreover, it sends a message to the world that Abu Dhabi is keen, first, through alternative energy projects, to create a sustainable environment and, second, to build a strong economy based on knowledge and diversification of income sources, depending on alternative energy resources.Q: In light of the global financial crisis, the topic of financing alternative energy projects presents itself as strongly as one of the most important and main axes of the Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. Are there any directions of the Government of Abu Dhabi in this context?The issue of financing is one of the main issues or the main obstacles facing establishment and development of any projects, both in energy and other areas. Financing represents the greatest challenge to the growth of renewable energy projects, especially in light of the large amounts needed for the infrastructure, materials and technologies involved in these projects. Therefore, the major burden is to be born first by governments through provision of appropriate incentives to encourage consumption and production of renewable energy, as well as by gradually lifting support given to oil- based energy production.We thank God for our wise government’s supporting attitude to this orientation. Abu Dhabi Government saves no effort in both financing and support. Despite the fact that this is not economically feasible at the present, compared to the emirate’s large oil reserves and high capacity in production at low cost, the direction towards alternative energy represents an investment for the future and one of the main aspects of development to meet the growing demand for energy locally, according to the “Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030”. Perhaps the “Masdar” company and its investment subsidiary units are the best proof on that.  Abu Dhabi Government will maintain this supporting attitude to this sector till its full growth. Therefore, the private sector is invited and encouraged to participate and invest in this area, whether by partnership programs between the Public sector and the Private sector, or fully private investments. Q: Innovation, research and studies in alternative energy area may need an entity supported by government to work on attracting the most innovative projects in this area, whether from within or outside the UAE. Does the Emirate of Abu Dhabi have any directions in this context? This is true. Abu Dhabi Government has been aware of this issue from the beginning and made it a main pillar in the development plan for future technology. Therefore, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in “Masdar” City has been established, emphasizing the emirate's long-term commitment to building the knowledge economy and focus on sustainable development. The Institute has been developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world. The Masdar Institute is the first academic institution of Higher Studies in the Middle East specializing in alternative energy and environmental technologies researches. The Institute will contribute to providing Abu Dhabi, the region and the world with cadres of qualified high-level capabilities, thereby enhancing economic development through human capital and technological innovations.In addition, Masdar city will work on attracting and inviting major players in the clean technologies sector, along with medium, small institutions and other projects to transfer their research and development laboratories, marketing offices as well as their head offices to this city in order to be a centre for present and future technologies. Where can you locate the role of the Department of Economic Development in this event? Why do you participate in the accompanying exhibition?The Department of Economic Development’s participation in this summit, which is the most prominent in its field worldwide, is aimed at promoting the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its enormous capabilities and advanced infrastructure. The summit also represents a great opportunity to introduce the importance of the pivotal role played by the Department of Economic Development in the economy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and services provided by the department to stimulate investment and create a favorable investment environment, especially in this area.This participation comes as an emphasis on the importance of energy issues and its role in realization of sustainable economic development, as well as an emphasis on the department’s attention to integrate the emirate’s efforts so as to achieve its vision on developing a sufficient and strong infrastructure capable of supporting expected economic growth through ensuring energy security to meet future demand according to the “Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030”.
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