Abu Dhabi clean-tech event sees big-ticket investments, new ventures

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on January 19, 2020 Published on January 19, 2020

Sustainable real estate firm Masdar launches $260-million REIT for green buildings

The Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) that was held last week has given the renewable energy and clean-tech sector a bouquet of goodies. Alongside the big-bucks commitments to the sector, there was also a raft of announcements with a focus on small and island nations.

The ADSW is an annual event held by the emirate through its renewable energy and sustainable real estate company, Masdar. A key development of the 2020 event was the launch of a $260-million real estate investment trust (REIT) by Masdar exclusively for green buildings.

Deal with NTPC

Masdar also signed a clutch of agreements with global energy majors, including an MoU with India’s NTPC for exploring green projects in India. The other agreements include one with France’s EDF for setting up a joint venture for energy efficiency and distributed solar generation projects in Abu Dhabi; with Infinity Energy to set up a JV for projects in Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa; and with chemical company Cepsa (partly owned by Masdar’s parent company, Mubadala) to set up renewable energy projects in Spain and Portugal.

Masdar has also picked up a 40 per cent stake in Australian waste-to-energy company East Rockingham Resource Recover, which is putting up a $350-million plant near Perth. Additionally, it signed a power purchase agreement with Indonesia’s utility, PLN, to sell power from a 145-MW, 225-hectare floating solar plant that Masdar is putting up on the Cirata Reservoir.

Masdar is the main instrument through which Abu Dhabi is pushing its renewable energy and clean-tech agenda, both at home and abroad. At the COP21 (Paris Agreement), the UAE had committed to generate 24 per cent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2021.

Indian investment

It may be remembered that in October 2019, Masdar made its first investment in India by picking up a 20 per cent stake in Hero Future Energies, promoted by the Munjal family. On the sidelines of ADSW, Masdar’s Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, told BusinessLine that Masdar is “very India-focussed” and would regard Hero Future Energies as the platform for several renewable energy projects in the sub-continent.

Masdar today has a portfolio of 5 GW, in which it has invested $13.5 billion.

Apart from Masdar, the emirate of Abu Dhabi also had a few goodies for the clean-tech sector. It announced loans worth $105 million to green projects in eight small countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cuba, the Maldives, Nepal, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent,) through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).

This was the seventh round of funding under a partnership with the Abu Dhabi-headquartered global body, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The ADFD provides loans to projects recommended by IRENA. So far, it has granted loans worth $350 million — these are sovereign-guaranteed and carry a very low rate of interest.

Also, the $50-million UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund announced the provision of finance to 16 new projects in the Caribbean.

Seminars and speeches

The ADSW 2020 event also featured a bunch of seminars and conferences on a variety of subjects including energy, environment, smart cities and water. The flagship event, the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Summit, saw speeches by political leaders from various countries, notable of which was an impassioned one by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, in which he mentioned how “in a matter of a few hours a third of our GDP was wiped out” by a hurricane.

However, what made a splash in the local papers was the picture of a hug of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, given to Buretaake Ioane, a 15-year-old student from the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, whose school was one of the recipients of the Zayed Sustainability Prize. The $3-million prize is given to winners under the health, food, energy, water and global high schools categories.

(The writer was in Abu Dhabi at the invitation of Masdar)

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Published on January 19, 2020
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