The UAE has become the first of 98 fellow member countries of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to ratify the agency’s statute. This follows the UAE’s submission of an official bid to host IRENA’s global headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
The regional MEP sector is following the UAE’s international efforts in the renewable energy field with considerable interest, as the large-scale adoption of such systems will be a considerable boost for the sector, possibly creating entirely new niche markets as the demand for electrical and plumbing expertise and associated products intensifies.
The ratification process was completed by decree of UAE President HH Sheikh Khalifah bin Zayed al Nahayn (Federal Decree 37 of May 2009). The instrument of ratification was deposited at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin by the UAE ambassador to Berlin, HE Mohammed Ahmed Al Mahmoud, making the UAE the first country to ratify the IRENA statute.
“The support we have received from countries around the globe for our work on IRENA, and in particular our offer to host IRENA’s headquarters in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, has been tremendous,” said UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“Nations ranging from Europe to Latin America, from Asia to Africa have pledged their support for the UAE to serve as the permanent headquarters of IRENA in order to advance the shared goal of making renewable energy accessible, affordable and available to everyone.
“Many believe it is time for an international agency to be placed in this region – in a country that creates the bridge between developed and developing, and in a country that offers its whole-hearted commitment to the cause of renewable energy and climate change,” said Al Nahyan.
As part of the UAE bid to host IRENA, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has made an unprecedented offer to help IRENA engage developing nations in real, tangible ways by creating a special endowed fund of up to US $50 million dollars (AED183.6 million) annually solely for IRENA-approved renewable energy development projects in developing nations, with a concentration on low-cost and low-maintenance technology that meets the needs of those nations.
“The UAE is committed to facilitating an active and dynamic involvement of the developing world in the future of renewable energy. Moving our world toward a renewable energy future will require more than the leadership and participation of a few countries. The UAE is in a unique position geographically, politically and economically to bring the developed and developing world together and to bring IRENA’s mission to life,” argued Al Nahyan.
Headquartering IRENA in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city powered completely by renewable energy will put IRENA at the centre of an innovative new global hub for the renewable energy sector. Upon completion, Masdar City will be home to more than 1,500 companies – including General Electric’s new Ecomagination Centre – creating a world-class technology cluster of renewable innovation.
The UAE has committed significant resources to IRENA. It will cover all operating costs related to the office site, provide a generous inflation-adjusted allowance for conferences facilities and related services, and take care of all immigration fees. As such, the annual contributions of all signatories will go where it matters the most: staffing the agency, and funding its work programmes.
To allow IRENA to focus on its mission from its first day of operation, the UAE will supplement its support to the agency by covering all set-up and start-up costs, including IRENA-chosen furniture, state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure and support, an e-learning platform, IRENA-funded research, operational services and housing and relocation for IRENA employees. The UAE’s commitment to incubate IRENA totals over US $136 million, of which US $70 million is in cash.
The decision for the location of IRENA’s interim and eventually permanent headquarters will be made at an IRENA meeting in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt on 29 June 2009, where the member countries present will cast their vote.