Renewables help link millions to power grid

FNC, Irena and IPU discuss Sustainable Development Goals in context of upcoming UN High-Level Political Forum

18:16 January 11, 2018
Mariam Al Muhairi

Abu Dhabi: Millions of people have gained access to electricity through renewable energy during the past five years, a joint parliamentary forum organised by the Federal National Council (FNC) and International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) heard yesterday.

The forum was very timely as countries, multilateral organisations and the international community as a whole prepare for the first global review of Sustainable Development Goal-7 (SDG7) in the context of the upcoming UN High-Level Political Forum, officials said.

SDG7 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Discussing the measures to achieve SDGs, Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, speaker of the Federal National Council, highlighted the UAE’s commitment in this regard and the legacy of Shaikh Zayed in sustainability.

Shaikh Zayed’s initiative to plant one million trees in Al Ain had borne fruit when the garden city went on to win several green awards, she said.

Explaining the UAE’s ambitious goals for a green future, Al Qubaisi, said:

“We are not only dreaming big, we are working hard to achieve it.”

When it comes to sustainability, failure is not an option, she said.

In the Year of Zayed, all have to work together to keep up the legacy of Shaikh Zayed in sustainability, she said.

Adnan Z Ameen, director-general of International Renewable Energy Agency, said: “Today, renewables are the most economic option for off-grid electrification. At least 60 million people are served through off-grid renewable energy systems in Africa, and almost all of them gained access to electricity during the past five years,” he said.

“We need to harness this immense opportunity to revitalise economies and lift people out of poverty,” Ameen said.

Renewable energy costs continue to drop dramatically with solar and wind projects now offered at 3 US cents per kilowatt-hour or even less.

Irena’s analysis shows that the energy transformation can fuel economic growth and create new employment opportunities to such an extent that global GDP could be boosted by up to 0.8 per cent in 2050.

Renewable energy jobs would rise to around 26 million by 2050, from a current estimate of 9.8 million jobs. Decarbonisation of the energy sector would also save millions of lives due to lower air pollution, Ameen said.

Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, highlighted the UAE’s remarkable green energy projects, including Shams-1 in Abu Dhabi and Mohammad Bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai. He also described the initiatives taken by prominent private players in the UAE.

Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) said SDGs were very important for the IPU.

Irena assembly to open on Saturday

1,100 government representatives from 150 countries to attend 8th Irena assembly

More than 1,100 representatives of governments from 150 countries will meet in Abu Dhabi on January 13 and 14 during the eighth assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

As the world’s principal platform for international cooperation on renewable energy, the Assembly will provide strategic guidance to the work of the Agency for the next four years and position it to play a key role in driving the global energy transformation, said an Irena press release on Thursday.

“As renewable energy costs decline, technology advances and deployment accelerates around the world, we are entering a new age of energy transformation, with renewable energy becoming a significant driver of economic growth, job creation, and socioeconomic development while also addressing climate change and reducing air pollution” said Adnan Z. Ameen, Irena Director-General.