Our correspondent from Ramboll Middle East is wowed by the optimism and enthusiasm at the sustainability event
The World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi begins today, the first big event in the green calendar since the climate discussions in Copenhagen. And if the event back in December was a policy-makers playground, then this event certainly seems one for the businessmen, engineers and investors. Like the earlier talks, the message from the array of royalty and ministers speaking from the main stage is one of concern, but it is mixed with real optimism.
The source of that optimism is the army of firms taking part in the exhibitions around the summit itself. UK, Chinese, German, Danish, Norwegian and Korean firms are all here in numbers, offering a massive range of products and services. There are the global giants such as Siemens and BP, as well as many small technology firms and inventors. I know it is easy to say this from my position in the centre of this room, but there is so much innovation and activity going on to really believe the green market can reach its potential as the next big thing.
MasdarThe biggest draw of the week is the Masdar stand. The carbon neutral city has a massive presence here, not surprising given this is its home turf. Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s signature sustainability project, which will become a low-rise city of 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters. It is planned to incorporate the latest renewable energy technologies and through its Institute of Science and Technology, will help to commercialise these technologies. The ambition of the project is undiminished by the global downturn, and the appetite for new technologies to be incorporated in it remains strong. I am having meetings with Masdar later this week so I will return to this subject.
Green BuildingsA lot of people here want to talk about how future regulations will change the market for green buildings, not just in Europe but in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and India.
It is always said that for green buildings to become the norm, government policies need to be “long, loud and legal”. While this is very true, and while there is still a long way to go, with many countries yet to implement binding legislation, it is a good sign that those in the business of making money are getting ahead of the curve by learning how green buildings work.
A variety of ways to accomplish this change are being showcased here. The number of solar power firms here is apparently over 160, showing the confidence in the latest advances in technology here. There are firms selling smart electricity systems, waste-to-energy plants and district heating and cooling technologies.
Heath Andersen is a director for sustainability and renewables for Ramboll Middle East