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IRENA, Abu Dhabi deal hinges on Masdar success

Masdar City will not reign in Emirate?s carbon footprint, says author.

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If Masdar fails, IRENA may leave Abu Dhabi, says author Jim Krane.
If Masdar fails, IRENA may leave Abu Dhabi, says author Jim Krane.

Abu Dhabi may lose its role as host to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) if the city’s clean energy project, Masdar, fails to live up to its promises, author Jim Krane said.

“Their continued presence kind of hinges on this renewable project,” he told Arabian Business on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.

“Abu Dhabi’s environmental record is pretty appalling, so without having this renewable energy initiative there isn’t a great argument for having this renewable energy agency setting up shop in the emirate,” Krane, a former fellow at Dubai School of Government, said.

The UAE capital lobbied fiercely to host IRENA’s headquarters in 2009, beating three European countries including Austria and Germany.

The win was based in part on expectations the estimated US$22 billion state-owned Masdar City project would overhaul Abu Dhabi’s record on energy consumption.

However, Krane said the project was unlikely to rein in the emirate’s carbon footprint, which he cited as being the second worst in the world, per capita.

“It’s a very small city; it gets a lot more press than perhaps it warrants, given the size of Masdar and the size of Abu Dhabi,” he said. “It’s not going to make a dent in Abu Dhabi’s overall energy consumption picture. But you know, it’s an interesting prospect.”

Masdar, which is wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi government, in October said the city’s scheduled completion date had been put back by up to nine years, while its total cost could fall by up to 15 percent.

Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of Masdar, said the vision “as a whole, remains intact.”
Krane, a former journalist, is the author of 'Dubai: The World's Fastest City'.
 

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