The 5th World Future Energy Summit will take place in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, later this month. The conference, held January 16 to 19, is one of the leading global forums on clean energy for advancing business, technology, policy, and finance toward ever more sustainable models of development.
The summit is primarily a business platform for companies, investors, project developers, and buyers, but there is also significant and growing participation from the public sector and international NGOs. The prince of Abu Dhabi has hosted the summit in its last four incarnations, which is why there is traditionally a large regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Last year’s summit had around 26,000 participants from 137 countries, and more than 600 companies held exhibitions. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon attended in 2011, along with an array of national leaders, including the prime ministers of Portugal and Bangladesh and the presidents of Pakistan and Iceland.
The UAE-based renewable energy development company Masdar is the official host and one of the primary sponsors of the event. Masdar, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi government-owned company Mubadala, is an eclectic corporation. It comprises five units including a green-tech capital investment firm, a developer and operator of renewable power projects, a carbon-reduction management unit dedicated to carbon capture and storage, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which serves as the research and education branch.
The facilities for these units are situated in Masdar City – the company’s fifth element—a clean-technology development project in Abu Dhabi. This cluster of what will be 40,000 residents and hundreds of businesses is aspiring to be one of the world’s most sustainable communities. The city will be extremely low-carbon because of the use of electric vehicles for personal and public transit, high energy efficiency, and electricity generation from large-scale solar photovoltaic, wind, and geothermal power. The project, initiated in 2006, is still a work in progress and will not be fully operational until around 2025. Masdar City also will be the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a treaty organization whose member countries have committed to advancing clean energy policy domestically and cooperating internationally. IRENA is the only international treaty organization dedicated to renewable energy 100 percent of the time.
Timed in coordination with the World Future Energy Summit, IRENA will hold its second Session Assembly in Abu Dhabi just prior to the summit. During this session, the 85 countries that have ratified the organization’s treaty—including most European countries, the United States, India, Japan, Australia, and several African countries—will participate in a General Assembly. IRENA’s statute has 148 signatories in total (not all of which have ratified the treaty), and these delegations will observe the decisions made in the assembly and participate in general meetings. In addition to ongoing proceedings about IRENA’s founding documents and leadership, the assembly will review annual reports, focusing on the results of studies of the potential for renewable energy in Africa and the Pacific. In several roundtable discussions, the assembly will address topics such as knowledge management and technology cooperation, policy advisory services, capacity building, and technological innovation.
The agenda for the World Future Energy Summit will dovetail with the IRENA assembly in several ways. Throughout the four days of events, the conference will include forums on policy and strategy, business and policy, technology and innovation, and finance and investment. Topics to be covered include: how technology can be an enabler for a clean energy future, the role of natural gas as a low-carbon stepping stone, energy efficiency and carbon reduction, financing sustainable energy for all (including a look at renewable energy and rural development), sustainable transportation, best practices in solar and wind project development, smart infrastructure through digital monitoring of energy use and renewable energy production, and international trade and regulations.
This year’s opening keynote address will be given by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is considered a leader in developing China’s economic policy and has been a proponent of renewable energy and other forms of sustainable development. To follow media, blogs, and tweets for the World Future Energy Summit, click here.