15 JAN 2017

Atlantic Councils Global Energy Forum Brings a Fast Start to ADSW 2017

For the first time, the Atlantic Council held its annual Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi. And quite frankly, there was no better place to discuss geo-economics, energy trends, the U.S. election and its affect on energy markets than this two-day forum that is wrapping up today in Abu Dhabi. At 10:00 a.m. yesterday, this event kicked-off the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2017, the Middle East’s largest sustainability gathering, which is hosted by Masdar.

Several high-level policy discussions included perspectives from H.E. Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy; H.E. Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar; H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy; and former Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman, who is Chairman of the Atlantic Council - some of whom the staff at Masdar has had the pleasure to interact or work with. The meeting of this minds strengthens Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a global energy hub.

Sure, this country has long been a leader in hydrocarbons; but over the last several years, the UAE has emerged as a major player within the world’s renewable energy sector. Through projects including those funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and implemented by Masdar, some of the world’s most remote nations have embarked on a path towards securing more secure and safer energy for their citizens. Meanwhile, more countries are investing in offshore wind and massive solar projects as they have become proven to become more efficient and cost effective in recent years. And all this is happening at a time when oil prices have been very low. But that could change at any time. As Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Agency told the Global Energy Forum audience, “We are entering a time of oil price volatility.” Mr. Birol surmised that declining oil industry investment could actually lead to greater oil prices soon. In any event, more governments and businesses are making the decision to invest in renewables so that they can stabilize energy prices; and that in turn, these trends could only make these sources of energy more price-competitive in the long run. In sum, it was a dynamic gathering of leaders and professionals, with a diverse point of view, who attended this event on Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island.

And it was the perfect launch for ADSW 2017, where once again civil society, corporates and government leaders are exchanging ideas and making deals to advance the cause of clean energy and technology solutions.

17 JAN 2017

Masdar takes 25% stake in world’s first floating offshore wind farm

  • Investment in Hywind Scotland will increase Masdar’s presence in the UK to 1.06GW of gross electricity generating capacity
  • Statoil-Masdar partnership formally announced at ADSW 2017 in the presence of Norwegian State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ms Tone Skogen

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; January 17, 2016 – Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, has acquired a stake in Hywind Scotland, a 30-megawatt (MW) floating offshore pilot wind farm in the North Sea, it was announced at an official ceremony during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017.

Through the transaction Statoil and Masdar have agreed to share the development risk and Masdar will cover 25% of previous and future costs.

Due to start commercial operation in late 2017, Hywind Scotland is the world’s first floating offshore wind farm. The objective of the Hywind pilot farm is to demonstrate cost efficient and low risk solutions for future commercial-scale floating wind farms.

Ms Tone Skogen, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, attended an official ceremony to announce Masdar’s entry into the Hywind Scotland project. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar; Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE; H.E. Jens Eikaas, Norwegian Ambassador to the UAE; Tom Marchbanks, Regional Manager Middle East, Scottish Development International; Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, and Irene Rummelhoff, Executive Vice President New Energy Solutions of Statoil, were also present.

“Having met with representatives of Masdar at the ADIPEC conference late last year, I am greatly encouraged by this substantial international investment in Hywind Scotland and look forward to the further development of this world-leading 30 MW project, which will be situated 15 miles from Scotland’s North East coast,” said Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Fair Work, Scottish Parliament.

“When complete, Hywind Scotland will be the first floating wind farm in the UK and its novel technology offers vast, global potential. This pilot project aims to take advantage of Scotland’s huge offshore wind resource by operating in waters exceeding 100m depth, demonstrating cost efficient and low risk solutions for commercial scale parks.

“Major investments, such as this one made by Masdar, highlight the importance of continued investment in offshore wind, are a sign of increasing confidence within the sector, and position Scotland at the forefront of the global race to develop the next generation of offshore wind technologies.”

Located off the coast of Peterhead in Abderdeenshire, Hywind Scotland consists of five 6MW floating wind turbines anchored to the seabed. The farm covers an area of around four-square kilometres, with the average wind speed in this area of the North Sea is around 10 metres per second.

The ongoing construction of monopiles will be followed by assembly at Stord in Norway next summer, before they are shipped to Scotland.

“Masdar is excited to join the team developing the world’s first floating wind farm, and to build on our partnership with Statoil,” said Chief Executive Officer at Masdar, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi.

“Hywind Scotland represents the next stage in the evolution of the offshore wind industry, combining the project management experience and technical expertise of one of the world’s largest offshore energy players – and our own capabilities in renewable energy development acquired over the last decade in the UK and international markets,” Al Ramahi added. “We see tremendous potential in the commercial application of floating offshore wind technologies.”

The partnership also consists of a collaboration agreement which will enable the two companies to work together on clean energy technologies across several markets in the near future.

“The Hywind Scotland pilot has the potential to open attractive new markets for renewable energy production worldwide,” said Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil’s Executive Vice President for New Energy Solutions. We believe Masdar can be a strong partner also in future Hywind projects and we hope that our collaboration will result in future value creation opportunities for both parties.”

Hywind Scotland is the second offshore wind partnership between Masdar and Statoil after the Dudgeon wind farm, a 402MW project also due to come on-stream by the second half of 2017.

Dudgeon, Hywind Scotland and the 630MW London Array – currently the world’s largest offshore wind farm in operation – will bring Masdar’s gross renewable energy generating capacity in the United Kingdom to 1.06 gigawatts (GW), enough power to supply 6,600 homes and displace 63,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

Masdar’s investments in wind energy also span projects in the Middle East.

17 JAN 2017

If You Want to Understand its Mission Visit Masdar City

It’s a brisk Abu Dhabi afternoon. We are greeted by Chris Chi Lon Wan, who is the Head of Design at Masdar City, and who has been instrumental in bringing this urban development project to life since its inception in 2006. His beaming smile and energetic, passionate manner quickly capture our full attention. As he walks with us around the city, we are increasingly immersed in an interactive tale about the future of urban life.

Here we are, standing in the middle of the inner courtyard of Siemens Middle East Headquarters, and we are introduced to the general idea behind the city, which is charmingly simple. It seeks to utilize passive design strategies and clean technology to optimize sustainability. The city has 6,700,000 square foot allotted for diverse industries and projects, including research and education center, shops, restaurants, community spaces, mosques and residential areas. The master plan designates the allocation of the buildings and businesses in a way that their development complements the goal of a pedestrian-friendly, ecological and comfortable urban environment.

Every element of Masdar City is held to the highest environmental standard and has to cut energy demand and water consumption by 40%, while also reducing embodied carbon by 30% compared to business as usual. Many architects and developers gasp and tell that it is impossible to achieve such standards, when they first hear about the requirements for executing a development project here, as Mr Wan tells us. However, the existing buildings tell a different story. The one we stand in front of, the Siemens building, has not only won 11 international awards, but also achieved a 63% saving of energy consumption and a 52% saving of water consumption when compared to a standard Abu Dhabi office building.

The city utilizes a plethora of strategies for achieving its environmental ambitions. For one, the entire city is oriented on a southeast-northwest axis, because for most of the time the air movement in this location moves from this direction and because such orientation provides shading at street level throughout the day. Moreover, the buildings are positioned exactly 9 meters from each other in order to maximize shade. They also have smartly designed façades for shading and cooling purposes. As a result, the temperature can be up to 15C degrees cooler in the city than elsewhere in Abu DHabi. This can mean a great difference in comfort, especially during Abu Dhabi’s summer, when the air temperature is around 40-45C.

“The modern architecture movement was founded on the idea that form follows function. What I’m saying here is that we should take this idea one step further. What if we have buildings that follow the environment? The height, shape and shading devices in these buildings are a way of how we react to a given environment,” Mr. Wan explains. He ardently believes that the future architecture will use the environment to drive the design. Different architectural typologies have been driven by historical-economic developments. With growing urban populations and environmental pressures, people need to do more in order to be more sustainable and cost-effective. This will eventually lead to a new typology in architecture. This idea also explains how Masdar City is transferrable, despite being so embedded in Abu Dhabi’s geographic, climatic and cultural environment. In Mr. Wan’s words, one must simply answer the question: “If you were to build in a way that complements the environment, what would you do?” He explains that this will certainly lead to different outcomes, but the approach for sustainable cities will be universal giving rise to a modern regional environmentally friendly typology. The core definition of this typology revolves around the three pillars of economic, environmental and social sustenance. Mr. Wan tells us that they have been able to achieve sustainability, comfort and social aims without spending extra money over what we would in a business-as-usual office construction process.

As we climb into the personal rapid transit (PRT) vehicles (I have to say, I find them exceedingly cute) about to leave the city, I feel hopeful and excited to see this nexus of the development of sustainable urbanism and clean technology to spread around the globe. And such a movement is critically important: The number of people who live in cities is projected to rise to nearly 6 billion by the year 2050, up from the current 3.5 billion people (which is around 50% of the world’s population). Cities, concentrated urban environments, account for only 2% of the planet’s landmass, but contribute 75% of its carbon emissions and are responsible for almost 80% of the world’s energy consumption (U.N. Habitat Research). In the light of climate change and rapid urbanization, it is glaringly obvious that Masdar City is a crucial element of our ability to have a sustainable future.

18 JAN 2017

SWEET TASTE OF SUCCESS! Three school teams from Al Gharbia win “Solar Oven Challenge”

The winning teams in a school contest to build an electric oven powered by solar energy received their trophies and cash prizes at Shams Solar Power Company in Madinat Zayed yesterday.

Sixteen schools from Al Gharbia in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region challenged themselves over four weeks to create a safe, working oven powered only by the sun.

Grade 11 and 12 students competed in teams of four, with at least two of the team-members UAE nationals, and a budget of AED500.

The three winning schools who will be showing off their students’ solar-powered cooking technology at The Festival at Masdar City on January 20-21 are: Qatr Al Nada school from Madinat Zayed came in the 1st and 3rd place with two different teams; Al Baya school from Sila came in the second place.

Shams Solar Power Company, operator of the Shams 1 solar power plant, organised the “Solar Oven Challenge” to mark this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which takes place from January 12-21.

The winning team received a cheque for AED10,000. Second-place earned AED5,000 and the school in third received AED2,000. At least half of the winnings must go towards a school project.

To win the challenge, teams had to build an oven that could reach temperatures of between 150 and 200 degrees Celsius for at least one hour. They also had to be able to bake a dish for the judges to eat, and explain how their cash prize would be spent to help their class or school.

“We were amazed at the ingenuity of all the competing teams and extremely impressed that so many school teams took part,” said Abdulaziz Al Obaidli, General Manager of Shams Power Company.

“The Solar Oven Challenge was a fun way to raise awareness of the potential of renewable energy. And there was serious message too, because millions of people around the world don’t have access to reliable and affordable sources of cooking fuel. Solar-powered cooking technology if applied on a wide scale could transform the quality of life of countless people.”