France Says “Oui” to Masdar Renewables Deal

france masdar deal CEO Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al JaberMasdar CEO Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber signed a joint declaration with the French government, paving the way for new collaboration on advancing clean energy projects in France. The deal facilitates co-development of new technology and allows for easier transnational exchange of expertise and experience. In also underscores existing cooperation on the Global Atlas of Renewable Energy. France plans to produce 23% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, a strategy also intended to boost the national economy. At present, France’s wind energy capacity ranks sixth in the world.

“France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are equally committed to address energy security and sustainability,” Al Jaber told AMEInfo. “The two countries are making bold investments in large-scale renewable energy projects and developing carbon reduction strategies.”

“This Joint Declaration builds on our already strong relationship and enables us to further explore new collaborative opportunities in the clean energy sector,” added Al Jaber.

Masdar had previously partnered with French oil and gas company Total to build Shams 1, the 100-megawatt concentrated solar power project in Abu Dhabi (Spanish renewables company Abengoa is third partner in that project). Shams 1 is the MidEast’s largest solar power project and though not yet fully operational, it’s begun supplying electricity to the emirate’s grid.

Jean-Marc Otero Del Val, Total Vice President, told The Energy the project could spur further French-Emirati joint ventures. “We have developed trust,” he said. “Both Masdar and Total have agreed to deepen their relationship and explore other avenues of cooperation in the UAE and outside the UAE.”

The UAE is an emerging leader in new clean energy technologies, making significant investments in the renewable energy industry and diversifying its energy mix.  In 2010, following Abu Dhabi’s successful bid to host the Headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change to support a fuller international engagement on climate and energy issues.

“Long a leader in conventional energy, the UAE’s ambitious turn to renewable energy is significant. This willingness should inspire more countries,” said Delphine Batho, France’s Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy.

At the core of the Total’s solar strategy  its controlling stake in American photovoltaic (PV) panel producer SunPower, which it acquired last year. Total will focus on PV, and not pursue growth with the concentrated solar power technology that features in Shams-1.  Their expansion comes as oil companies Shell and British Petroleum have exited the solar business.

The signing took place at Abu Dhabi’s 2013 World Future Energy Summit (WFES), a cornerstone event of ADSW that was kicked off by keynote speakers French President François Hollande and her majesty Queen Rania of Jordan.

Image of French delegation at WFES via Masdar

Looking for more ways to dive into renewable energy in the Middle East? Visit the 5th MENASOL Middle East & North Africa Solar Conference & Expo; 14-15 May, Dubai. Click here for the MENASOL website.

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