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Policy shifts over climate change as countries seek to diversify energy sources have opened investment opportunities for renewables in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), head of UAE green energy firm Masdar has said
In an interview with Reuters, Masdar’s chief executive Ahmad Belhoul said that countries in the region are increasingly setting renewable energy targets in their energy mix as demand grows, serving as a boost for investments in solar and wind power ventures.
“A few years back when Abu Dhabi set a target of seven per cent of renewable energy by 2020, nobody in the region had any renewable energy target. Today, there are targets being set in Jordan and Morocco.
“What we have noticed is that, over the past couple of years, there has been significant interest by many governments in renewable energies. We have seen many policy changes that allow investors to come in,” Belhoul added.
Masdar, owned by Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala, was set up with a US$15bn commitment to invest in green energy.
Belhoul said that Masdar, through its private equity arm that manages two funds, had deployed over half a billion dollars invested in green projects with a portfolio of about 4.5GW of renewable energy, equivalent to about four nuclear reactors.
Masdar was looking to set up a third fund, he added. Its investments include a 35 per cent stake in the planned Dudgeon offshore wind farm in Britain with Norwegian partners Statoil and Statkraft.
It also has a 20 per cent share in the 600MW London Array, the world’s largest wind farm.
“Our strategy over the next five years is the MENA region plus selected investments in mature markets,” he said, adding the UAE is immediate priority.
“If you look at how the sector has evolved, prices are becoming increasingly competitive,” the chief executive said. “Solar cells, for example, even in the UAE with our local gas, are more competitive than gas.”
Morocco too was attracting huge attention and investments. “The Moroccan government has set a target and they are following through quite systematically, it is a very mature market and quite competitive. We are closely looking at it,” he said, adding that Masdar had bid for projects in the country.