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UAE renewable energy developer Masdar eyes China, BRI green projects expansion

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-16 09:51
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The head of United Arab Emirates-based renewable energy developer Masdar says the company is looking for investment opportunities in China as well as in countries along the Belt and Road Initiative.

"We are interested in investing in China for sure," Masdar Chief Executive Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi told China Daily at the 2020 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. "In terms of capital deployment in China for renewable energy projects, we are currently assessing several opportunities, with several partners."

Masdar is the leading renewable energy company in the UAE. It has a hand in projects with a cumulative energy capacity of almost 5 gigawatts across 25 countries. The company also invests in sustainable urban planning, and has developed one of the world's largest concentrations of energy-efficient buildings at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

Al Ramahi said the company is also interested in participating in green development in countries within the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, which is a China-proposed international infrastructure and economic development program. He said that the UAE and China are already jointly investing in third markets, and that Masdar can play a key role in collaboration on green projects in the BRI.

Masdar is controlled by UAE sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, which in 2015 established the $10-billion UAE-China Joint Fund along with China Development Bank Capital and China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

"We will do our part as Masdar, within these specified countries," Al Ramahi said. "We are a focused company, we only do renewables, we only do sustainable developments that cater for a better future for all. We would like to work with Chinese investors and engineering firms to deploy these solutions across these countries."

Francesco La Camera, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA, said that he hopes that no BRI financial instruments are used to invest in coal power.

"I think it is important to make clear that on the Belt and Road Initiative, no coal plant is funded," La Camera said from the 10th IRENA Assembly in Abu Dhabi.

Al Ramahi said that Masdar will look to collaborate with Chinese partners across the supply chain, on engineering and construction. Masdar and China Resources Group are shareholders on the 402-megawatt Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm in the United Kingdom, and Al Ramahi said more such equity partnerships with Chinese companies can be expected.

"100 percent we can expect more going forward," said Al Ramahi. "China and Chinese companies are very important to us. If you are in the business of renewable energy, you have to look to China, you cannot ignore China."

According to the UN Environment Program, China invested $758 billion in renewable energy capacity between 2010 and mid-2019, more than any country or region and representing 29 percent of the global total of $2.6 trillion. China's contribution alone during that period was just shy of the worldwide total for the previous decade.

"The fact of the matter is, China has led the renewable energy revolution over the past decade," said Al Ramahi. "It is the largest in terms of renewable deployment globally. I strongly believe that China will continue to be the leader globally when it comes to the deployment of renewable energy."

La Camera said that China will play a key role in global efforts to phase out fossil fuels.

"China has a large part of all investment in renewables," La Camera said. "We are working with them to review their long-term planning. I hope this will be successful and there will a focus on renewable energy as part of this plan."

IRENA said on Sunday that the share of renewables in global power needs to double by 2030 in order to achieve international development goals and a pathway to climate safety. Renewable electricity should supply 57 percent of global power by the end of the decade, IRENA said, up from 26 percent today.

The agency said that annual investment in renewables needs to increase from around $330 billion today to $750 billion in order to deploy clean energy at the speed required.

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