The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are typically associated with profligate use (and abuse) of fossil fuels — from major indoor ski slopes to air conditioning outdoor pavilions in the desert. The source of so much of the world’s oil has become great at burning itself.
But, bit by bit, there are signs that this might be on a path toward changing.
As per the NY Times, Abu Dhabi has
launched the Masdar Initiative (masdar is Arabic for source), which has signed up major oil and technology companies, universities around the world and U.A.E. ministries to help develop and commercialize renewable-energy technologies backed by hundreds of millions of dollars of Abu Dhabi’s money.
According to The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, there are four key elements to the Masdar Initiative:
1. An Innovation Center to support the demonstration, commercialization and adoption of sustainable energy technologies;
2. A world-class University offering specialist graduate programs in renewable energy and sustainability, in partnership with leading international universities and research institutes.
3. A specialized Development Company focused on the commercialization of emissions reduction, and Clean Development Mechanism solutions as provided by the Kyoto Protocol on climate change;
4. A Special Economic Zone tailored to hosting institutions which will invest in development and production of renewable energy technologies and products.
And, the government through in resources to seek to make this a reality.
A four square kilometer of land was granted by the Government of Abu Dhabi to be made available as the campus for the initiative. The Government also established a US $100M clean technology fund to co-invest with private sector partners in domestic and foreign companies focused on emerging technologies.
Note that that $100 million comes shortly after $350 dedicated to solar power initiatives including a 500 megwatt solar power station.
Well, in terms of partnerships, linking up with MIT certainly suggests that this is something with serious intent.
“The Masdar Institute will serve as the nucleus of the Masdar Initiative, feeding it with talent and innovative technologies to enhance economic development and promote new industries using renewable energy and resources in the emirate and the region,” said Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of ADFEC. “This cooperative agreement will lead to a superior relationship between the Masdar Institute and MIT to jointly address global energy issues.”
Al Jaber highlighted the importance of developing indigenous research and development capabilities in Abu Dhabi to address issues of particular regional importance, such as energy, water and sustainability.
“The guiding philosophy of Masdar is to transform the natural resource wealth of the country to a long-term, sustainable knowledge economy through the development of human capital that can effectively compete in the global marketplace,” he added.
Texas — center of America’s oil men — is an ever-growing wind power production zone. The Persian Gulf — center of the world’s oil reserves — on its way toward being an every-growing center of solar power resources?