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IRENA warns of missing renewables target despite growth surge; global collaboration crucial for sustainable energy future. (Image source: IRENA)

The Renewable Energy Statistics 2024, released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), highlight a critical challenge: While renewables are the fastest-growing power source, the world faces a potential shortfall in meeting the tripling renewables target pledged at COP28

To stay on track, the world will now need to increase renewables capacity by at least 16.4% annually through 2030.

The unprecedented 14% increase in renewables capacity during 2023 has established a compound annual growth rate of 10% from 2017 to 2023. Coupled with the declining additions of non-renewable capacity over the years, this trend suggests that renewable energy is on course to surpass fossil fuels in global installed power capacity.

However, if last year’s 14% growth rate continues, IRENA's target of reaching 11.2 Terawatts (TW) by 2030 under its 1.5°C Scenario will fall short by 1.5 TW, missing the target by 13.5%. Moreover, if the world maintains the historical annual growth rate of 10%, it will only achieve 7.5 TW of renewables capacity by 2030, falling short of the target by nearly one-third.

IRENA director-general Francesco La Camera emphasised, “Renewable energy has been increasingly outperforming fossil fuels, but it is not the time to be complacent. Renewables must grow at higher speed and scale. Our new report sheds light on the direction of travel; if we continue with the current growth rate, we will only face failure in reaching the tripling renewables target agreed in the UAE Consensus at COP28, consequently risking the goals of the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

“Consolidated global figures conceal ongoing patterns of concentration in geography. These patterns threaten to exacerbate the decarbonisation divide and pose a significant barrier to achieving the tripling target,” he added.

COP28 president Dr Sultan Al Jaber stated, “That means increasing collaboration between governments, the private sector, multilateral organisations, and civil society. Governments need to set explicit renewable energy targets, look at actions like accelerating permitting and expanding grid connections, and implement smart policies that push industries to step up and incentivise the private sector to invest. Additionally, this moment provides a significant opportunity to add strong national energy targets in NDCs to support the global goal of keeping the 1.5°C target within reach. Above all, we must change the narrative that climate investment is a burden to it being an unprecedented opportunity for shared socio-economic development.”

Regarding power generation, the latest data for 2022 confirmed regional disparities in renewables deployment. Asia remains the global leader in renewable power generation with 3,749 Terawatt hours (TWh), followed for the first time by North America (1,493 TWh). South America saw a notable increase in renewable power generation by nearly 12% to 940 TWh, attributed to hydropower recovery and increased solar energy contribution.

Africa experienced a modest growth of 3.5%, reaching 205 TWh in renewable power generation for 2022, despite its substantial potential and urgent need for sustainable growth. Recognising this need, IRENA is advancing the Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa (APRA) initiative and preparing an investment forum focused on APRA member countries later this year.

The UAE leads in environmental sustainability and climate action across the Gulf and Africa, says Agility Global report, highlighting key initiatives and invest. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

The United Arab Emirates remains the leader, by most key measures, in environmental sustainability and climate action across the Gulf and Africa, says a new Agility Global report that tracks government and business policies, practices and investment related to the environment 

The findings, released Wednesday, are contained in a report that updates Agility’s Middle East and Africa Environmental Sustainability Scorecard, issued last November. The Scorecard examined the performance of 17 MEA countries in environmental sustainability outcomes, government policies and corporate practices. South Africa and the UAE led as the top performing countries in their respective regions and overall.

“The UAE shows strong collaboration between the government and private sectors in implementing its environmental sustainability agenda,” the report says. “While further progress is needed in areas such as green finance, lowering barriers to entry in the energy market, and filling remaining regulatory gaps, the country is well positioned to enhance its regional leadership role.”

UAE's green investment initiative

The report noted the country’s leadership in green hydrogen pilot projects, and highlighted its sustainability startup accelerator, Catalyst. It also cites UAE government estimates that the green energy transition could attract US$163.5bn in fresh investment in renewables and clean energy while boosting exports by US$6.8bn and generating 160,000 new jobs in the Emirates.

Agility Global chairman, Tarek Sultan, said, “The UAE is becoming a global leader in sustainability by demonstrating the seriousness of its commitment to clean energy, green infrastructure and climate financing assistance for developing countries. Its US$54bn pledge towards investing in renewables by 2030 and US$30bn commitment to assisting developing countries in making the clean energy transition are notable. We believe that the scope and scale of the Emirates’ sustainability agenda will generate green-growth opportunities for future-minded investors and businesses.”

The UAE report builds on the results of the 17-country Scorecard, which described MEA nations as “relative late comers to global sustainable development” but said they “are rapidly stepping-up their sustainability strategies, programs and investments.”

The Scorecard used 48 performance and progress indicators to assess performance and compare countries. The indicators include data, regulatory frameworks, policy assessments, incentives and corporate practices across six pillar areas: green investment and technology; sustainable infrastructure and transport; governance and reporting; energy transition; environmental ecosystems; and circularity.

Last fall, roughly two-thirds of UAE business people surveyed for the Scorecard said climate change affects their business operations; and half said their companies would allocate 5% to 20% of capital expenditure toward achieving environmental sustainability targets.

The UAE report was commissioned by Agility Global, a multi-business owner and operator and investor, listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX). It was compiled by Horizon Group, a Geneva-based firm that specialises in research and analysis for international organisations, governments and leading businesses.

At COP28, Agility joined 13 other businesses to form the World Economic Forum’s leaders for a Sustainable MENA, pledging to address climate change in a region where only 12% of MENA businesses have set a net-zero target. Two of Agility Global’s three largest operating businesses (Menzies and Tristar) have committed to net zero. Together, Menzies and Tristar accounted for more than 74% of FY 2023 revenues. Agility Global’s third-largest business, Agility Logistics Parks, developed the first ever EDGE ADVANCED certified “zero-carbon ready” warehouses in the GCC (in Saudi Arabia) and West Africa (in Côte D’Ivoire)."

Standard Chartered leads financing for Abu Dhabi's pioneering Waste-to-Energy Project, supporting UAE's sustainability goals and innovation. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Standard Chartered has announced the successful financing for Abu Dhabi’s Waste-to-Energy Project, marking Abu Dhabi’s first venture into large-scale waste-to-energy conversion

This significant project is being procured jointly by Tadweer Group and Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) and will be developed as a collaboration between Tadweer Group and an international consortium comprising of Marubeni, Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) and Japan Overseas Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development (JOIN).

Transformative waste solution

The Waste-to-Energy Project will be constructed as a multiline facility with the capability to treat 2,700 tons of municipal solid waste per day, equivalent to 900,000 tons per annum. This project aligns with the UAE’s broader environmental objectives by reducing landfill usage and promoting renewable energy. The project is integral towards helping divert 80% of waste in Abu Dhabi from landfills by 2030 and to showcase the value of waste as an energy source to reduce environmental pollution. Net emissions of up to 1 million tons of CO2 per year are envisaged to be saved by the project.

Rola Abu Manneh, CEO, Standard Chartered UAE, Middle East and Pakistan, commented, “We are delighted to spearhead the financing for Abu Dhabi’s first waste-to-energy project. This initiative is a crucial step forward that demonstrates our commitment to supporting the UAE’s sustainability goals. By converting waste into energy, we are not only addressing waste management issues but also contributing to the generation of low carbon energy solutions. This project exemplifies the innovative and forward-thinking approach the UAE leadership has put in place to tackle the environmental challenges we face today, and we are proud to be part of the country's journey towards achieving the 2050 Net Zero objective."

Standard Chartered played a pivotal role in this project from its inception. The bank supported a Japanese consortium comprising Marubeni, HZI and JOIN. From the pre-bid stage, Standard Chartered acted as the sole senior debt underwriter. Post the award of the project to the Marubeni-led consortium, the bank successfully syndicated the financing, attracting a blend of local and international banks to participate.

The financing for the Waste-to-Energy Project was met with overwhelming interest, being significantly oversubscribed. This high level of interest reflects the strong confidence in the project's viability and its alignment with global sustainability goals. The oversubscription allowed for a diverse mix of lenders, enhancing the financial robustness and credibility of the project.

Standard Chartered’s extensive involvement in the project included roles as Pre-Bid Lead Bank, Documentation Bank, Bookrunner, Initial Mandated Lead Arranger, Green Loan Coordinator for Tadweer Group’s inaugural Green Financing, Hedging Bank, Sole VAT Lender, sole Equity Bridge Loan (EBL) Lender and Hedge Bank to Tadweer, Global Facility Agent, Commercial Facility Agent, Offshore Security Agent, and Onshore Security Agent. The financing will also benefit from being classified as a green loan which is a key milestone for the project. This comprehensive engagement underscores the bank’s dedication to the successful execution and sustainability of the project.

Larsen & Toubro's Renewables arm secures 3.5GW solar contracts in the Middle East. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Larsen & Toubro's Renewables arm has secured substantial contracts with a prominent developer in the Middle East to construct two Gigawatt-scale Solar PV plants, totaling 3.5GW in capacity

The scope includes grid interconnections involving pooling substations and overhead transmission lines. Detailed engineering and initial construction activities are set to commence soon.

Previously, L&T announced a solar-cum-storage plant order in India, further bolstering its renewables portfolio, which is on track to reach a cumulative capacity of 22 GWp, encompassing both commissioned and upcoming solar and wind projects.

Madhava Das, whole-time director & Sr executive vice-president (Utilities) at L&T, stated, "The successive order wins stand testimony to our proven engineering and project management capabilities to meet the requirements in terms of plant performance, workforce mobilisation, safety, quality and timeline. We cherish this level of customer trust."

Reflecting on these significant contracts, S N Subrahmanyan, chairman & managing director of L&T, remarked, "The Middle East is leading in sustainable energy infrastructure and smart lifestyle provisions. These orders are valuable additions to our green portfolio as we forge ahead with next-generation technologies, building the company of the future."

Emerge Limited, a joint venture between Masdar and the EDF Group, breaks ground on SNOC's 60MWp solar PV plant in Sharjah. (Image source: Masdar)

Sharjah National Oil Corporation (SNOC) and Emerge Limited, a joint venture between Masdar and the EDF Group, marked a major milestone with the groundbreaking ceremony for Sharjah's largest solar installation to date

Situated at SNOC's Sajaa Gas Complex, the 60MWp ground-mounted solar PV plant will annually offset 66,000 tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to removing over 14,600 cars from the road each year.

This project underscores SNOC's commitment to decarbonisation and its target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2032. It aims to significantly reduce SNOC's reliance on traditional fossil fuels while providing a cost-effective source of clean energy. Aligned with the UAE's ambitious Net-Zero 2050 strategy, this initiative promotes renewable energy sources, supporting the country's transition to a sustainable, environmentally conscious future for Sharjah and the broader region.

SNOC CEO, Hatem Al Mosa, stated, "SNOC is happy to witness this significant milestone on its path to achieve Net-Zero by 2032 across its own operations and to support the Emirate of Sharjah’s sustainability agenda and commitment to protecting the environment. We value this strategic cooperation with Emerge, Masdar and EDF and we look forward to more prospects in the same path."

Michel Abi Saab, Emerge general manager, said, "Emerge is proud to be a part of this landmark project, alongside our client SNOC. Our turnkey solutions offer businesses like SNOC the ability to transition towards a sustainable future without upfront costs. This project will empower SNOC to achieve its decarbonisation goals, and also to secure a more cost-effective energy future for the Emirate as a whole. We look forward to its successful completion."

Emerge will handle the entire project lifecycle under a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) agreement. This includes financing, design, procurement, construction, operation, and maintenance of the solar modules for a period of 25 years.

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