Middle East’s Leading Sustainability Event Turns Climate Change Goals into Business Opportunities
Deal-Makers to Target Energy Efficiency, Solar Energy, and Sustainable Transport Investments
The 10th World Future Energy Summit (WFES) opens tomorrow at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), with the 2017 edition expected to be the biggest ever. Hosted by Masdar as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), WFES drives the business case for sustainability, and is now firmly established as a leading global platform for turning renewable energy goals into business opportunities.
Held under the theme of ‘Sustaining the Clean Energy Consensus; Empowering New Players’, WFES 2017 will bring together the world’s leading technology providers, government delegations, innovators, and thought leaders in Abu Dhabi. Organisers expect around 880 companies from 40 countries and 38,000 attendees from 175 countries. That is a substantial increase on 2016, with around 600 companies and 32,000 attendees.
As WFES reaches its 10-year milestone, visitor numbers are around three times the figure for the first event in 2008.
“Over the last decade Masdar has been a catalyst for the adoption of renewable energy in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Mohamed Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. “Through the World Future Energy Summit, Masdar has helped to build an internationally respected platform that is sharing the knowledge, experience and investment necessary to make renewable energy and clean-tech adoption a commercial reality in the region today and in markets beyond.”
Countries across North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia are emerging as international leaders in implementing renewable energy plans, and in 2017 WFES will showcase an unprecedented range of bankable opportunities in a market experiencing exponential growth.
Last week, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced plans for the UAE to invest US$163 billion in renewable energy projects by 2050 as part of its Energy Plan 2050, with a target of generating 50% of the country’s power needs from clean energy.
Among the major regional markets, Saudi Arabia will be an official country partner for WFES, having announced a target of 9.5 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023 as part of its Saudi Vision 2030 national development strategy. The Saudi pavilion will be the biggest at the event, hosting key government and business entities. A high-level delegation will travel to Abu Dhabi from Morocco, where one of the MENA region’s most successful renewable energy programmes is on track to supply more than half the nation’s electricity needs by 2030, while Indian officials will be seeking partners for ambitious plans to add 175 gigawatts of renewables to the energy mix by 2022.
Other markets, such as Egypt and Jordan, also have advanced plans for renewable energy, part of a commercial environment that is attracting the world’s biggest technology providers to the region, as well as driving the emergence of innovative small-to-medium businesses focused on specific aspects of sustainability.
They are part of an industry supporting a potential USD 1 trillion in additional GDP growth by 2030. If the world more than doubles its renewable energy share to over 50 percent by 2030, then global GDP would increase by USD 1.3 trillion and 24 million jobs would be created, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The projected growth of the sector is consistently being revised upwards as achievements accelerate ahead of expectations.
“The global offshore wind sector is growing at around 30 percent per year, while the PV sector is experiencing 25 percent per annum growth,” said Mohamed Al Ramahi. “The continued success of the World Future Energy Summit, driven by the access it provides to decision makers, experts and business opportunities, is helping to ensure that industry players keep pace with the overall growth of the market.”
This year’s event comes at a critical moment, with innovation and economies of scale making cost-competitive renewable energy a reality. This was demonstrated last June when Dubai Water and Electricity Authority selected a Masdar-led consortium to develop Phase 3 of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. This set a price of less than 3 US cents per kilowatt hour for solar power generation for the first time, anywhere in the world.
WFES has played an essential role in reaching this point, supporting the renewables industry through its early years
“The success of WFES is built on strong foundations as a commercial event,” said Ara Fernezian, Group Managing Director - Middle East, at Reed Exhibitions, the event organizer for WFES. “We have grown with the renewable energy sector and today we are part of a thriving industry. There are new innovations every year, large financial investments are being made, and people come here to do business. WFES is about positive action.”
Within the event, WFES Energy Efficiency Expo will debut, showcasing solutions in energy efficiency and smart building solutions for the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. The Expo will be hosted by Masdar, in partnership with the Urban Planning Council of Abu Dhabi, Emirates Green Building Council, and the Clean Energy Business Council. WFES Solar Expo will highlight the latest solutions in solar photovoltaic applications and components, solar thermal, and energy storage, and will host networking at the Solar Village. The Sustainable Transport Zone will feature the latest in environmentally-friendly transportation.
ADSW 2017 will also see the return of important co-located events alongside WFES to promote a complete cycle of sustainability, including the 5th International Water Summit, supported by Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), and the 4th EcoWASTE exhibition and conference, held in partnership with Tadweer, The Center of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi (CWM).
Tailored to the networking needs of business leaders, the Business Connect programme will pre-arrange thousands of meetings bringing together buyers and sellers. The programme at WFES 2016 hosted a record 1,735 executive buyers from 1,322 companies and 75 countries.
Part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017, WFES will be at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 16 to 19 January.