MASDAR - doorway to the future



When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke at the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi this week, he praised the work of Masdar, the Middle East's first graduate research institution dedicated to clean energy research and education.

'The future is showcased in Masdar,' he said, noting that the public - private partnerships that led to this initiative will benefit the entire planet.

His words were echoed by many attending World Future Energy Summit, which in a few short years has become the window on the clean energy technologies and ideas that will shape cities and affect the lives of millions throughout the world.

The fact that the Masdar initiative and Future Energy Summit are sponsored by one of the world's leading fossil fuel producers is doubly significant as a signal that all economies must adapt to the realities of a lower carbon future.

The proximity of the two - The Future Energy Summit and Masdar - is deliberate. Corporate executives and leading experts in clean energy and urban design assembled at the Summit to exchange ideas and insights, have only to point to the $2 billion city of the future rising in the barren desert near Abu Dhabi as the showcase of what could become commonplace in cities around the world over the next two decades.

That is why industry giants such as Siemens, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Ernst & Young, Vestas, Johnson Controls, BP, CH2M Hill, Exxon Mobil, Deloitte & Touche and GE were highly visible at the Summit, along with delegations from state and national governments from every leading economy.

GE, the first corporate resident of the Masdar Institute, is researching a wide range of energy efficiency innovations that in time will find expression and deployment through the company's highly successful Ecomagination Initiative.

For many technology developers, the lure of Masdar goes beyond the excitement of innovation. There is money available to support new technology commercialization.

The Masdar Clean Tech Investment Fund, in partnership with various financial institutions such as Swiss bank Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Macquarie Capital, has been funding solar, wind, solar, wind, and waste to energy companies around the world. A new fund will be launched presently which may extend broader than the narrow focus of clean tech.

Dominic Jermey, the British Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, noted in an article in the UAE's The National that the World Future Energy Summit provides the ideal platform to showcase the UK's capabilities in technology, innovation, and research and development to contribute to the UAE's low-carbon future, particularly where demand for skills and knowledge is high, such as grid connection, carbon capture and storage, and energy efficiency.

It is a view echoed by Klaus-Peter Brandes, Germany's Ambassador to the UAE who signaled his country's role in the launch of the WFES and as a pioneer for climate protection through the development and deployment of renewable energy to mitigate global climate change.

Energy is not the sole focus of the event. Innovative solutions for waste management, air quality control, water and wastewater management and green building have become important showcases for technology developers from many countries seeking to gain a foothold in the burgeoning Middle Eastern markets.

Water is a particularly important issue in this region, with demonstrating water purification technologies, desalination systems and an innovative approach to harvesting water from atmospheric moisture (See GLOBE-net article (Water in the desert - Has an age old dream come true?).

The Abu Dhabi's Environment Agency is testing a new solar energy desalination system touted as a 'zero-carbon process which helps reduce cost of water treatment, especially in desert areas where dust and high temperatures impair the efficiency of solar panels used in the existing desalination system.'

As well, the Summit features seminars and forums involving leading experts on carbon financing, venture capital investing and risk management, all addressing the one common element needed by all participants - money.

The Government of Canada is present at the Summit, with delegations organized by Canada's National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and WADE Canada, the country chapter of the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE).

Clean energy companies from Ontario (Advanced Androneks Inc.) and British Columbia (Corvus Energy - a developer of Lithium Ion batteries and Molten Power, a geothermal energy company) are also present to demonstrate Canada's strengths in this area.

In 2010 over 24,760 attendees from 148 countries tool part in the event, including world leaders, international policy makers, industry executives, investors and technology developers seeking practical solutions for today's energy and climate change challenges

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the Summit not only provides a platform for the international renewable energy industry, it  places Abu Dhabi as the focal point for the global shift toward a lower carbon future.

Abu Dhabi is also the host city for IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency. IRENA's 150 member states pledge to advance the use of renewable energy in their own national policies and programs, and to promote, both domestically and through international cooperation, the transition to a sustainable and secure energy supply.

For more information on the World Future Energy Summit, visit here.

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