Masdar plans energetic push in region

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, is in talks to broaden its footprint across the region.

“There are projects under discussion in Morocco, in Jordan, the Sultanate of Oman and also the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive.

“The whole Middle East and North Africa are of strategic importance to Masdar, and we will always look for ways to enhance, improve and create open grounds for more cooperation and more business relationships.”

He called the UAE and Saudi Arabia “sister countries” but declined to elaborate on the specific projects under discussion. Masdar is a unit of Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.

This week Masdar also announced a 15-megawatt solar power project in Mauritania. The panels would account for 10 per cent of the nation’s power capacity.

The smaller scale power plant, part of a United Nations initiative to bring more electricity access to developing nations, is a departure from Masdar’s large-scale projects, from a wind array in the Thames river near London to a 24-hour solar-based plant in Spain.

“Wherever the natural resources support and the regulatory policies and frameworks are available, you’ll find Masdar projects and investments,” said Mr Al Jaber. “We are not a charity organisation.”

Iraq, which is planning to add 400MW of solar and wind power installations, is not under consideration for now. “Of course we have a willingness to invest in Iraq, but we are just waiting for the legislations and rules and regulations to start taking shape,” said Mr Al Jaber. “We need the relevant data whether we’re talking about wind energy [or] solar energy.”

The UAE should create a federal clean energy strategy, he added.

Today, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have renewable-energy targets by 2020 - of 7 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively - and several emirates have embarked on their own plans. Dubai is building a solar park, Ras Al Khaimah is at work on a clean-coal plant and Sharjah is crafting a waste-to-energy plan.

“Growing from the roots and over time raising and getting to a point where it actually [could] be consolidated into a federal comprehensive strategy that addresses the importance of the energy mix and its economics - that is the way to go,” said Mr Al Jaber.

“We have all these different initiatives. Now all we need to do is bring it under one umbrella.”

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