The WEC’s Standing Committees and Officers Council are meeting in Abu Dhabi this week, where they will also visit Masdar City. WEC Inside talks to Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Masdar’s chief executive and a speaker at next year’s Daegu Congress, about clean energy and why the Congress is so significant.
What should WEC officers and committee members expect to see in their visit?
They will see Masdar City’s ongoing progress and enjoy a visit around the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology’s campus, its research facilities, laboratories and clean rooms. The Institute – established in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – has over 200 graduate students, many of whom reside in Masdar City’s energy-efficient residential buildings.
They will also see the traditional Arabic architecture that has been integrated into the city’s design to maximise shade and cooling, most notably demonstrated by the multi-story wind tower that naturally regulates air flow throughout the city’s narrow streets.
Among Masdar’s most prevalent and innovative technology pilots is electric transport, including driverless Personal Rapid Transit pods and a fleet of electric vehicles. The vehicles will ferry the delegation around the city and to the 10 MW solar PV plant, which complements the City’s rooftop PV panels and supplies all its energy needs.
As a clean-technology cluster and special economic zone, Masdar City will welcome its first group of companies later this year. Our guests will see that construction of office buildings are well underway.
How is Masdar helping to advance the adoption of renewable energy?
By addressing the entire value chain of the sector, from academia and research to investment and project development, Masdar’s unique structure enables a holistic approach to developing clean energy and sustainable solutions.
We have been conducting academic research and catalysing the commercialisation of innovative clean technologies. We’ve invested into some of the world’s largest, most pioneering utility-scale renewable energy projects such as the 1000 MW London Array offshore wind farm, and pushed the boundaries of energy storage through projects like Gemasolar, a 24-hour, power-generating solar plant in Spain.
The innovative nature, size and commercial viability of these projects demonstrate the feasibility of renewable energy.
You will be speaking at the World Energy Congress next year. Without giving too much away right now, what will be your message?
While we have invested significantly into the clean energy sector, we remain a proponent of a diversified energy mix. As renewable energy increases its share of global installed capacity, it is crucial that we begin producing and consuming conventional energy sources more efficiently. Addressing the challenges of our increasing global energy demand will require an integrated energy-mix strategy that promotes efficient use of hydrocarbons, peaceful nuclear energy and renewable energy.
What do you see as the contribution of the World Energy Congress to the energy sector and beyond?
Dialogue and collaboration have always been crucial to encouraging the partnership and investment needed to help industries grow. As a platform that attracts the energy industry’s key leaders and decision-makers, the World Energy Congress is helping shape the future energy landscape.
Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, an enterprise promoting renewables and sustainable innovation. He will be speaking at the 2013 World Energy Congress.