21 JAN 2017

The Festival at Masdar City takes sustainability into the community for fourth straight year

Abu Dhabi, UAE; January 21, 2017 – The Festival at Masdar City attracted its biggest crowds ever as this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week drew to a successful close this weekend.

Visitors enjoyed a fun-packed weekend of family-themed games, activities and live entertainment, as well as stalls selling arts, handicrafts and souvenirs, and delicious food and treats.

A sustainability message ran through all the attractions, and this year’s Festival also celebrated 2017 as the UAE’s “Year of Giving”.

Launched in 2014, the Festival at Masdar City promotes community awareness of sustainability and the adoption of more sustainable behaviour.

This year’s event also marked the launch of Masdar Park, an outdoor dining destination with outlets housed inside recycled shipping containers powered by solar panels. Open until April, the Park features a recycled musical instrument wall and a bicycle-powered cinema – it is also the starting point for a new 2.6km-long cycle and running track.

Activities at The Festival this year were divided into 10 different zones reflecting the 10th anniversary of Masdar in 2016 (and the 10th world future energy summit).

“It was a pleasure to see so many UAE residents join us for the fourth Festival at Masdar City; without doubt, it was the biggest yet,” said Dr Nawal Al Hosany, Executive Director for Sustainability & Brand at Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company.

“Each year the Festival proves that sustainability can be fun, and that it is easy to incorporate into our everyday lives,” she added. “Masdar City is the ideal venue to take the sustainability message into the community. And with the Masdar Park now up and running, we hope to welcome even more visitors to Masdar City in the months ahead.”

The Festival marks the end of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017. This year’s event featured the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, the seventh General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) the ninth Zayed Future Energy Prize and the tenth World Future Energy Summit. A global platform for renewable energy policy and business, ADSW 2017 saw a 35% increase in exhibitors and a 19% rise in attendees compared to last year.

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17 DEC 2016

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017 targets new technologies in meeting

Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 17, 2016 – Ground water scarcity exacerbated by increased water demand due to population growth and the effects of climate change – droughts, higher temperatures – is a critical sustainability challenge for many regions of the world. The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) is no exception.

As the gap between water demand and availability in the Arabian Gulf widens, the pressure on desalination technologies to meet water consumption needs inevitably grows.

At the next Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), taking place from January 12-21, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar will present technical data from an innovative pilot programme that could pave the way for the commercial adoption of seawater desalination powered by clean energy.

The programme, which last month completed one year of operations, was announced at the inaugural International Water Summit (IWS) – one of the co-located exhibitions at ADSW – in January 2013.

It started with four small-scale desalination plants testing innovative energy-efficient desalination technologies; a fifth was launched in October this year, run by the French engineering company Mascara.

“The Mascara project uses reverse osmosis technology and is a showcase of an off-grid solution,” said Dr Alexander Ritschel, Head of Applications Development at Masdar’s Clean Energy division. “It can be operated independently, off-grid; it’s a 100% photovoltaics-powered desalination system. It also works without batteries and chemicals, so it’s a solution for remote locations.”

Mascara’s new plant produces 30 cubic metres of desalinated seawater per day, bringing the combined daily output of all five pilot plants in Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi to 1,500 cubic metres. The other partners in the programme are Abengoa, Suez, Sidem (Veolia) and Trevi Systems.

Altogether, four companies are evaluating reverse osmosis technology, while the fifth is researching forward osmosis. Reverse osmosis is a more energy efficient alternative to the thermal technology currently used for large-scale seawater desalination across the Arabian Gulf.

Forward osmosis is still an emerging technology but could be a viable long-term solution for hard-to-treat water sources such as highly saline water (including certain groundwater sources in the UAE or the brine stream ejected by desalination plants) or water containing significant amounts of organic matter.

“The results of our pilot programme after one year are very encouraging; performance in terms of reliability has been very high,” added Dr Ritschel. “The programme is preparing the ground for the transition expected to take place over the next decade from integrated water-and-power-generation plants to standalone, membrane-based desalination facilities powered only by electricity.”

With many conventional desalination installations nearing the end of their operational life over the next few years, and with potable water consumption in MENA expected to increase from 42 cubic kilometres per year in 2012 today to 200 cubic kilometres by 2050, the opportunities to deploy more energy-efficient alternatives, commercially and at scale, are increasingly coming under the spotlight.

The technologies being tested in Masdar’s Renewable Energy Desalination Programme are up to 40%-less energy intensive than thermal seawater desalination, according to Dr Ritschel.

The practical steps needed to advance clean-energy desalination will be a key topic at the next International Water Summit in January, which will focus on the needs of the MENA region. Other issues on the conference agenda include water project financing, waste water strategies and recycling, smart infrastructure, and water in the urban environment.

In parallel with adopting more sustainable methods to produce drinking water, the UAE is rolling out initiatives to reduce water demand. Unveiled at IWS two years ago, the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi is implementing a “water budget” aimed at the more responsible management of the emirates’ finite water resources.

The “budget” is based on a combination of strategies including reducing waste, increasing the efficiency of irrigation technologies and methods (forestry, agriculture and landscaping alone consume more than 80% of Abu Dhabi’s water supply) and reducing utility subsidies for residential consumers.

“Abu Dhabi’s daily rate of domestic water consumption is about 563 litres per capita, still the highest in the world, and domestic water demand will more than double by 2030,” said Dr Mohammed Abdel Hamyd Dawoud, EAD Advisor for Water Resources, Environment Quality Sector. “The new tariff structure that has been introduced is helping to reduce this rate.”

“EAD is working with TRANSCO [Abu Dhabi Transmission & Despatch Company] in the Liwa strategic water reserve project [a five-billion-gallon aquifer made up of injected desalinated water], which will be completed this month,” added Dr Dawoud, who will address a panel on energy-efficient desalination in the Middle East at IWS 2017.

Today, Abu Dhabi’s available fresh groundwater resources stand at barely 0.5%, and water access is becoming increasingly stretched for around a quarter of the world’s population.

According to a World Bank report, the average person in the MENA region has only 1,000 cubic metres of fresh water available per year, compared with the global average of 7,000 cubic metres.

Concerns over water scarcity and the sustainability challenges associated with conventional seawater desalination methods are motivating greater collaboration to find workable, commercially viable solutions.

Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar was a co-founder of the Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance (GCWDA) at COP21 in Paris along with the French government and the International Desalination Association. Today, the Alliance has 141 members from dozens of countries.

At the COP22 international climate conference in Morocco last month, the GCWDA signed the Marrakech Declaration of Global Alliances for Water and Climate (GAWC) stipulating cooperation in three strategic areas: stakeholder mobilisation to secure a place for water in climate summits, negotiations and financial mechanisms; the exchange of lessons learned and existing best practices; and the identification and support for new actions.

Marking the one-year anniversary of the Alliance, His Excellency Michel Miraillet, the Ambassador of France to the UAE, said: “The Alliance is a benchmark for effective international cooperation, offering a multilateral platform for both government and the private sector to work together on policy and technical innovation.”

The Alliance will host its next board meeting at ADSW 2017.

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24 NOV 2016

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017 to convene first Advisory

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), the Middle East’s largest gathering on sustainability, will host an elite group of industry experts to advise on the event’s continued success in translating the global mandate for renewable energy and clean technologies into concerted policy and business action.

Held every January, ADSW welcomes heads of state, government ministers and international trade delegations – among a diversity of other stakeholders – to address the world’s most critical sustainability issues on the themes of Policy, Leadership, Business, Academic Research, and Community Awareness.

The first ADSW Advisory Council will take place on January 17, the day after the event’s formal opening ceremony, and every year thereafter. It will also follow Global Action Day, a high-level event aimed at translating global aspirations for sustainability into practical and innovative policy, investment, technology and partnership solutions.

The Council’s membership comprises both international and Middle East-based opinion leaders, all long-standing supporters of and speakers at ADSW and in many cases, passionate advocates of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which distributes an annual prize fund of US$4 million to exceptional companies, individuals and schools implementing renewable energy and sustainability solutions.

The Council members are Adnan Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for SEforALL; Her Excellency Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi; Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency; Marie Jose Nadeau, Chair of the World Energy Council; Michael Liebreich, Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Board, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and Board Member, Transport for London; David Sandalow, Inaugural Fellow, Columbia University; Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, The Earth Institute, Columbia University; Dr Saif Al Sayari, Acting Director General, Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority; Dayae Oudghiri, Management Board Member of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN); Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future; and His Excellency Dr Nasser Saidi, Chairman of the Clean Energy Business Council.
ADSW 2016 received nearly 36,000 attendees representing 170 countries, 382 exhibiting companies, more than 200 high-level speakers and 80 government ministers.

“As a global platform for addressing the interconnected challenges of clean energy, water and sustainable development, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week has developed lasting partnerships with many of the world’s most admired experts and opinion formers on sustainability issues,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and the host of ADSW.

“As we mark ten years of the World Future Energy Summit in 2017 and embark on the next decade of our expansion at Masdar, it is an honour to bring together some of our must trusted associates in charting the future evolution of the MENA region’s largest sustainability gathering.

“The guidance of the ADSW Advisory Council, representing the broadest cross-section of the sustainability domain, will ensure that ADSW continues to set the action-agenda from both a policy and business perspective – this is particularly important now that the clean energy sector has moved from the margins into the mainstream as a dynamic, commercially viable growth market,” Al Ramahi added.

ADSW 2017 takes places on the theme ‘Practical Steps Towards a Sustainable Future’ from January 12-21. The opening ceremony will initiate four days of presentations, discussions and workshops on a range of pressing topics across energy, water and waste. These include strategies to drive investment, implementation of the Paris Agreement, and the challenges of adapting existing infrastructure to the new market reality of small-scale, distributed power.

“As a long-standing supporter of ADSW and a keen advocate of the UAE’s efforts to advance the clean energy agenda, I am delighted to deepen my involvement in ADSW, and to help chart the course of its continued success,” said Michael Liebreich, Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Board, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and Board Member, Transport for London.

“Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s research has shown developing countries are overtaking the wealthiest economies in attracting clean energy investment, with the Middle East & North Africa playing a growing role. The global profile of ADSW is valuable in bringing emerging market opportunities to a wider stage, thereby enabling greater cooperation between developed and developing economies.”

ADSW 2017 will be the first global platform to debate practical approaches to the outcomes of COP22, the first UN climate summit to be held in the MENA region, with the agenda informed by the challenges of both emerging markets and developed economies, as well as the practical lessons they have learnt.

ADSW 2017 will also be an opportunity to reflect on the response to the Masdar Gen Z Global Sustainability Survey, unveiled at COP22, the first international study on the attitudes of 18-25-year-olds, the demographic cohort known as Generation Z, towards climate change, sustainability and renewable energy.

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22 JAN 2017

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017 delivers on promise

Abu Dhabi, January 22, 2017: Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2017, hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, came to a successful conclusion on 21 January after further building on its reputation as a significant platform for international dialogue, cooperation and action among governments and businesses.

This year’s edition, which ran under the theme “practical steps towards a sustainable future”, was the first global gathering dedicated to sustainability since the COP22 climate change conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, last November. It was appropriate, therefore, that ADSW 2017 began by bringing together government officials and policy makers at two key events: the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum on 12-13 January, held in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Energy and ADNOC; and the fifth General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency on 14-15 January.

The Opening Ceremony for ADSW, on 16 January, was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. Six heads of state, from Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Seychelles and Nepal joined the event, as well as former presidents of Iceland and Mexico.

ADSW 2017 also welcomed 73 government ministers and 4,080 senior executives – an increase of 12% compared to 2016 – from 125 countries. International pavilions were hosted from 20 different countries, representing an 11% increase on last year, and initial indications show that the total number of attendees was consistent with pre-show estimates of around 38,000 visitors from 175 countries.

During the week, 15 global events were held including five exhibitions; three conferences; two country focused events; three leadership events; and two policy events. Business meetings were up by more than 60% year on year, totaling 8,600, showing that Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is now truly established as a global platform where commercial agreements are made.

The ninth edition of the Awards Ceremony for the Zayed Future Energy Prize also took place, honouring the achievements of winners from across the world for their leadership in renewable energy and sustainability. Once again, this important event attracted significant media attention, with around 1,200 local and international print and online articles, while reaching more than 2 million Twitter users and 50,000 Facebook users.

The World Future Energy Summit (WFES), the anchor event of ADSW, celebrated its 10th edition this year from 17-19 January. This took place alongside the fifth International Water Summit and the fourth EcoWASTE exhibition.

For the first time, ADSW welcomed a major delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was designated as a WFES Country Partner. The Saudi delegation was led by His Excellency Khalid A. Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry & Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of Saudi Aramco, who used the platform of ADSW to announce plans to invest up to $50 billion (Dh183.50 billion) in renewable projects by 2023 to generate 9.5 gigawatts, mainly from wind and solar plants.
The Saudi delegation’s 700 industry professionals, which included 405 chief executives, held more than 2,000 meetings with ADSW participants during the week. In addition, 14 workshops and business round tables were organised, while more than 100 investors and developers from five countries took part in a private investment meeting hosted by officials from the Kingdom.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the other WFES Country Partner was India, whose senior-level delegation was led by Shri Piyush Goyal, the Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines. India’s clean energy plans make it one of the world’s most exciting markets for developers; its delegation provided details about the country’s target to have an installed capacity of 100GW of solar energy, 60GW of wind, plus 15GW from other renewables by 2022. In addition, high level meetings were held with Masdar and Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA).
As host of ADSW, Masdar used the occasion to announce a series of key business milestones on the sidelines of the event. These included: the purchase of a 25% stake in Hywind, an innovative floating offshore wind project in Scotland, from Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil; a 300,000-tonne waste-to-energy plant in Sharjah with environmental management company Bee’ah; a solar power project in the Seychelles; and an industry competition to devise new sustainable mobility solutions to serve Masdar City.

Together with DEWA, Masdar also announced the ground-breaking of Phase 3 of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The company signed a co-operation agreement with Qatar Electricity and Water Company and Nebras Power to develop renewable and sustainable energy projects, and announced the appointment of International Finance Corporation (IFC) to oversee the funding of Jordan’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) project. And on Thursday 19 January, Masdar unveiled its new Eco-Villa prototype at Masdar City – an energy and water-saving residential property that will set a new benchmark for sustainable real estate in the UAE and beyond.

ADSW also took the sustainability message into the community, staging the youth-themed “Student Exclusive” to more than 600 young people from across the UAE, and the Women in Sustainability, Environment & Renewable Energy (WiSER) conference – both events were being held for the second consecutive year. To round off a very busy and successful week, the Festival at Masdar City offered fun, food and live entertainment for all the family.