The United Arab Emirates (UAE) can become the clean energy finance capital of the world, according to Dr. Nasser Saidi - former chief economist of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and Chairman of the Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC). Dr. Saidi said that UAE's capital markets could 'own the clean energy finance space' and in doing so, demonstrate global leadership in impact investments.
"The long term economic returns on social investments that fundamentally shift the urban paradigm are enormous," said Dr. Saidi speaking ahead of the Clean Energy Project Financing MENA conference, presented by National Bank of Abu Dhabi and taking place in Dubai tomorrow. "We are rapidly entering a new economic age - a post carbon era, one in which the financial winners and losers may be separated by those who boldly pursue a first mover position in the solutions that support long term sustainable development, and those who stand by and observe."
"The UAE has always been a pioneering nation that has strived to reshape and define the future, continued Dr. Saidi, "and as it transitions its own economy from oil into knowledge and investments it can become clean energy finance capital of the world by owning the conversation around the subject.'' Last week, more than 150 governments around the world - including the UAE - signed the Paris Climate Agreement, which sets out a framework to systematically decarbonize national economies and promote cleaner sources of energy and energy efficiency. However, with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently reporting that the pace of renewable energy development needs to increase six-fold in order to successfully avert irreversible climate change, financing remains a challenge.
"Even in an era of low commodity prices, the increasing commercial viability of utility scale projects in solar and wind is encouraging governments to turn to renewables as a core part of their future energy mix," commented Nathan Weatherstone, Head of Sustainable Business at NBAD.
"MENA's financial community has a real and immediate opportunity to catalyse development in the growing renewable energy sector. That is why we are delighted to support this Clean Energy Business Council event and why NBAD has committed to lending, investing and facilitating USD 10 billion in sustainable businesses within the next ten years," he said.
The CEBC's Clean Energy Project Finance in MENA conference, presented by National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), will bring together senior regional leaders from the public and private spheres to develop solutions to the renewable energy finance gap.
The conference will address clean energy project financing opportunities and the economic feasibility of the future of renewables. Global industry experts will shed light on project financing structures, latest financial and energy innovations, share case studies and lessons learned. They will discuss making projects bankable in the MENA region, along with addressing the risks and barriers of renewable energy investment.