World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi: Day One

 |  Includes: GRN, QCLN, TAN
by: Andrew Butter
I turned up at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi to collect my press pass and have a look around. It’s quite an event, beautiful functional exhibition centre with loads of parking, 6,000 square meters of exhibition space, really smart stands with all the big energy brands you ever heard of and as many again that you never heard of, very well attended, and superbly organised.

The main sponsor of the event was MUBADALA which is the re-packaged offsets company, and it has huge pockets. According to their website, assets as of June 2009 stood at $20 billion, up from $14 billion in June 2008.

Profits, well it’s a startup, so what can you expect? $200 million in the six months to June 2009 down 38% from the preceding quarter; that’s 1% on assets employed, which I suppose is good for a start-up. Although given that they are sponsoring an alternative energy jamboree, I was interested to see that 55% of the profits were from sales of hydrocarbons.

Anyway, there was an air of hungry anticipation in the air, undoubtedly a good proportion of the exhibitors won’t go home empty-handed and everyone was “on message”.

It’s a four-day event, and the first day was devoted mainly to the politicians, so I caught that on television. I learnt a lot, for example from one expert who was asked:

What benefits can accrue to UAE from “going green”.

The answer to that is the electric car industry will create millions of jobs; that’s good to hear for a country where 95% of private sector jobs are held by “guest-workers”.

The front page of RECHARGE (The Global Source for renewable energy news) which was being circulated had a picture of UK Energy Secretary Ed Miliband unveiling the world’s largest offshore wind-licensing awards. It went on to say…

“But financing and technology remain obstacles”.

Well one thing at a time I suppose, apparently the wind is not an obstacle, although they didn’t pick up the story in the Daily Bell:

With the leasing out of sites for nine giant offshore wind farms, there was Gordon Brown's equally timely relaunch of his "£100 billion green revolution", designed, in compliance with EU targets, to meet a third of Britain's electricity needs. This coincided with windless days when Ofgem was showing that our 2,300 existing turbines were providing barely 1/200th of our power.

In fact, 80 per cent of the electricity we used last week came either from coal-fired power stations, six of which are before long to be closed under an EU anti-pollution directive, or from gas, of which we only have less than two weeks' stored supply and 80 per cent of which we will soon have to import on a fast-rising world market.

In every way, Mr. Brown's boast was fantasy. There is no way we could hope to install two giant £4 million offshore turbines every day between now and 2020, let alone that they could meet more than a fraction of our electricity needs. But the cost of whatever does get built will be paid by all of us through our already soaring electricity bills - which a new study last week predicted will quadruple during this decade to an average of £5,000 a year. This would drive well over half the households in Britain into "fuel poverty", defined as those forced to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on energy.

There was no talk either about the decision two days ago by the German Government to cut back on their extraordinarily expensive subsidies for solar power, but there are plenty of German exhibitors at the show, so I’ll have a chance to ask them what they feel about that tomorrow.

One other thing I found interesting, that mysteriously no one appeared to be talking about, was the notion that to help dissuade the world from being so dependent on oil, the UAE could cut back on its oil production and help the oil price to go up, instead of pumping oil out of the ground, which keeps the oil price down, so that they can pay for development of alternative energy.

That’s another question that your intrepid “journalist” will be trying to find answers to.

Author's Disclosure: No Positions