Energy Summit to focus on new solar opportunities, innovative financing models
When leaders from industry, government and science gather here in January for the eighth annual World Future Energy Summit (WFES), the UAE’s solar energy companies will be strongly represented, underscoring their prominent role in the rapid expansion of solar capacity across the region. In fact, MENA countries have committed to install up to 37 gigawatts of renewable energy projects within the next 10 years.
With 30,000 attendees expected from 170 countries over four days from 19-22 January, WFES unites the key players – from industry, technology, finance and government – needed to accelerate commercial opportunities in the renewable energy and clean technology sectors. WFES takes place during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), a global platform to address the interconnected challenges of economic development, water scarcity, poverty, energy and climate change that affect the widespread acceleration and adoption of sustainable development and clean energy.
ADSW is hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and a major innovator in solar projects not only in the Middle East, but around the world. Another key Abu Dhabi solar player that has been with WFES from the beginning is Enviromena Power Systems, which develops and constructs solar PV plants throughout the MENA region. Enviromena, founded in 2007, became a pioneer in building the first grid-connected, utility-scale photovoltaic plant in the Middle East. Today, the company holds the largest portfolio of small and medium-scale solar photovoltaic projects in the region, with more than 30 projects in six countries totaling more than 40 megawatts.
“Grid connectivity of renewable-derived electricity, particularly solar, is crucially important in diversifying the energy mix, achieving more cost-effective forms of power generation and supporting the economic growth of the MENA region through job creation,” said Sami Al Khoreibi, Enviromena’s CEO, who will participate on a WFES panel discussion focused on new opportunities in renewable energy development. “Thanks to government strategies that started in Abu Dhabi and the Gulf region, we expect the capacity of new solar projects to increase substantially as solar becomes a key component of the energy mix in many Middle Eastern countries.”
With solar power becoming cost competitive with traditional energy sources, solar energy will figure prominently on the WFES 2015 agenda. Industry participants will benefit from panels focused on ways to operate and optimize different types of solar facilities, as well as how to access development capital through innovative business models, partnerships and new sources of finance. Panels will feature speakers from such industry-leading companies as SunEdison, FirstSolar, SkyPower, Sunpower and Bright Source Energy.
Sander Trestain, Enviromena’s executive director for projects, noted solar power is becoming cost competitive with traditional energy driving growth in the industry. “As a builder of solar-power plants, Enviromena is finding increasingly effective ways of installing these systems. Since the MENA region has one of the highest electricity demand growth rates to begin with, we have a very positive outlook for the expansion of solar capacity in this part of the world.”
In addition to WFES, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week will feature the third International Water Summit, the second edition of EcoWASTE, and the seventh Zayed Future Energy Prize Award Ceremony in addition to the Fifth General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency.