European Energy Review (EER)

Green utopia in the desert

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Courtesy of Courtesy of European Energy Review (EER)

Abu Dhabi is not exactly the first place that comes to mind for a green revolution. The seaside capital of the United Arab Emirates is Opec’s fifthlargest oil producer and sits atop significant natural gas reserves. Petrodollars have transformed Abu Dhabi from a fishing village into the world's richest city, complete with eight-lane highways, Americanstyle shopping malls and shimmering high-rise office buildings. But the emirate's leaders know that the oil age won't last forever, and they're betting on alternatives.

Actually, they are betting big: Money from the stateowned sovereign wealth fund (estimated to be worth $328 billion) is poured into clean technologies, green research projects and renewable energy companies all over the world. Last year, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, wrote a $15 billion check to launch the Masdar Initiative. Named after the Arabic word for 'the source,' Masdar is aimed at turning Abu Dhabi into a green global player.

‘We want to be the Shell, the BP of renewable energy,’ Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive officer of Masdar, who is said to have close ties to the Abu Dhabi royals, told the London Times. ‘We will be a world-leading, recognised brand by 2020. It’s ambitious, but everything in Masdar is ambitious.’

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