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Masdar's CEO discusses the Zayed Future Energy Prize

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Masdar CEO and ZFEP director general Dr Sultan Al Jaber (left) at last year's award ceremony.
Masdar CEO and ZFEP director general Dr Sultan Al Jaber (left) at last year's award ceremony.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP) puts the focus back on renewables, explains the Masdar CEO and ZFEP director general, Dr Sultan Al Jaber

What is the reasoning behind the Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP)?

The ZFEP was created in honour of the legacy of the late President of Abu Dhabi and founding father of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The prize aims to inspire the next generation of global energy innovators - creating solutions for the future - and to create awareness of achievements as well as to encourage individuals and organisations making an effort in this field to continue to innovate and create new technologies to promote renewable energy.

Can you explain which fields of energy conservation can nominate themselves for the prize?

Any person, organisation and nongovernmental agency that has made a significant contribution in the global response to the future of energy and climate change can be nominated for the prize, especially in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energies.

What are the criteria for successful nominees?

The prize's successful nominees will be judged upon the key criteria of innovation, long-term vision and leadership. For innovation, presentation of cutting-edge concepts and solutions that solve today’s energy and environmental challenges are required. Nominees should be able demonstrate their ability to scale through a commercially viable or sustainable business model. And lastly, there is also a need to champion the advancement of both clean energy and sustainable solutions.

Can you give a breakdown on the number of nominations you received for the 2009 award - and from which areas of the world did these nominations come?

The 2009 ZFEP was a big success, with over 100 nominations received from over 50 different countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, China, the UAE, and Bangladesh. For 2010, we have received 350 nominations from around the world and we expect more to come.

Why is the UAE such a strong location to host this ceremony?

For a number of reasons. To begin with, the prize was founded in Abu Dhabi and was created within the spirit of an environmental legacy left by the late President of Abu Dhabi and founding father of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi, through Masdar, aims to inspire the next generation of global energy innovators by creating future energy solutions and ways to mitigate the effects of climate change. The prize supports this goal by driving individuals and organisations to develop new technologies that reinforce the benefits of sustainability and renewable energy solutions.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the UAE was recently selected to host the newly established International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). With IRENA’s headquarters in the UAE's capital, the decision will assist in the positioning Abu Dhabi as the renewable energy hub it is striving to become.

The agency will be best positioned to engage all nations – developed and developing – in moving the world forwards to a new renewable energy future. IRENA will be at the world hub of the renewable energy sector and amid a vibrant living laboratory of innovation.

Why is the link to IRENA so important?

At the core of IRENA’s mandate lies a need to create innovative scenarios for renewable energy, making it a viable solution for all and thus playing an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change.

In essence, the ZFEP and this IRENA mandate are perfectly aligned – there are many forms of collaboration that can take place to ensure that we collectively work towards a sustainable future. At the core, we are aligned in our drive to encourage innovators worldwide and enable them to benefit the larger community.

IRENA aims to attract those innovators, and from a geographical perspective, it is of course a great advantage for the ZFEP to also be located in Abu Dhabi. We are naturally aiming to capitalise on that existing and crucial advantage.

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