The former secretary-general of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change laid down a challenge to the United Arab Emirates to continue working to drive down the cost of solar energy at the World Green Economy Summit in Dubai on Wednesday.
Christina Figures hailed the "fantastic contrast between the vision of the government of this country and the lack of vision of the government of some other countries, currently" on climate change, as well as the advances made through projects such as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park. During the summit's opening address, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy's secretary-general Ahmad Al Muhairbi explained that around 430 megawatts (MW) of energy was already being produced at the park and projects to generate a further 1,500MW are currently being executed, with the long-term target at the park being the generation of 5,000MW by 2030.
Figures said that Dubai already benefits from one of the lowest costs of renewable energy on the market as it is generating power at under 3 cents per kilowatt hour.
"I have no doubt that the Emirates will be able to get to the intended 75 percent of renewable energy by 2050, but I have a little challenge," she said.
"My challenge is by 2050 the cost of solar energy must come down to one cent per kilowatt hour. If we can bring solar energy, universally, down to one cent per kilowatt hour, we will basically have solved global poverty, we will have been able to bring a high quality of life to the entire world, and I would say Dubai and the Emirates are already contributing quite remarkably to that effort," she said.
She argued that the huge decline in cost of renewable energy over the past decade meant the entire energy industry was being disrupted, to the extent where fossil fuels such as coal were now being devalued.
"The past century was basically moved forward with the burning of coal," Figures said. "Today, there are already 40 jurisdictions around the world in which solar power is cheaper than coal - India included, the UAE certainly as well.
"The next step is going to be storage, that needs also to be invested in and the price come down in order to make the combination of renewable energy, with storage, the cheapest source of energy."
In his address to the summit, the UAE's Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, Thani Al Zeyoudi, said that the UAE Energy Plan 2050, whose aim is to generate 50 percent of energy from clean sources by 2050 - 44 percent of which must come from renewables - requires "enhanced cooperation among all concerned parties".
"Fostering partnerships and financing mechanisms among countries and between the public and private sectors would be the key to enable gearing the course of development toward a green and sustainable direction," he said.
He also announced the launch of a new UAE Green KPIs platform which would allow potential partners and the general public to analyse data around 41 key performance indicators the UAE has been monitory since 2014 in a view to meeting the country's green economy plan.
(Reporting by Michael Fahy; Editing by Shane McGinley)
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