Abu Dhabi will be showcasing its green credentials at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) with its sovereign wealth funds positioned at the forefront of the energy transition.
Bringing together businesses, investors, heads of state and policymakers, ADSW comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), to be held in the UAE from November 30-December 12. Starting on January 18, ADSW will include the Emirate’s first annual Green Hydrogen Summit, highlighting the role of green hydrogen in the global drive toward net zero.
Green Hydrogen Revolution Led by Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala created Masdar, which is hosting ADSW, in 2006 as its green energy platform in the context of the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative. In 2022 it sought to bring in new domestic partners with the emirate’s oil company ADNOC, and TAQA Holdings, which is majority owned by another native sovereign wealth fund, ADQ. Last month, the three big local players exchanged their renewable assets in return for equity in Masdar’s enlarged renewables business, with ADNOC securing a 24% stake, Masdar founder Mubadala reduced to 33%, and TAQA holding the remaining 43%.
Masdar is pioneering the green hydrogen economy, having engaged global leader in green hydrogen Engie in a US$5 billion deal to create a hub in Abu Dhabi with generation capacity of more than 2GW. Its interest in the hydrogen economy seeks to develop an important source of energy and to produce ammonia and methanol while reducing carbon emissions. Masdar's green hydrogen business aims to produce up to 1 million tonnes per annum (tpa) of green hydrogen by 2030 and has spearheaded several projects.
The green energy pioneer is building on an agreement signed by ADNOC and TAQA in 2021 to create a 30GW renewables and green hydrogen venture. Its planned pipeline would push it well over 50GW by the end of the decade, maintaining its global share.
In terms of the local economy, Masdar is helping develop the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance, which brings together Mubadala, ADNOC and ADQ. Before merging its green assets into Masdar, ADNOC produced 300,000tpa of hydrogen, with plans to increase this to 500,000tpa. Yet, Masdar also has global ambitions. The new, bigger Masdar has a portfolio of 23GW, representing around 8% of global renewables capacity. Its planned pipeline would push it well over 50GW by the end of the decade, maintaining its global share and with a strong presence throughout the world, from the UK to Kazakhstan. It has signed agreements with leading Egyptian state-backed organizations to cooperate on the development of green hydrogen production plants, targeting an electrolyzer capacity of 4GW by 2030, and output of up to 480,000tpa of green hydrogen.
Nourishing the AgTech Ecosystem
Abu Dhabi’s focus is not simply on green energy, but also food security and sustainability, fuelled by local geography and resource limitations. The UAE is faced with a highly arid environment with limited potential for cropping, which is spurring investment in the development of protein and plant resources that do not rely on conventional farming operations.
Last year, Abu Dhabi’s ADQ sovereign wealth fund’s venture capital platform DisruptAD participated in the US$2.8 million seed funding round for Right Farm, which seeks to address gaps in the fresh produce value chain in the UAE and the wider region through the development of technology that optimises the sourcing and procurement of fresh produce for businesses.
The move followed ADQ’s launch in 2021 of the UAE’s first fresh produce AgTech Park - in Al Ain Industrial City (AAIC) under Abu Dhabi Ports’ Industrial Cities & Free Zone Cluster - to accelerate sustainable innovation-centric food production and distribution. The purpose is to enable the UAE to become the region’s leading fresh produce farming hub, reducing the nation’s reliance on premium food imports. Once operational, ADQ expects the 200-hectare AgTech Park to have an annual fresh fruits and vegetables production capacity of 39,000 tonnes. The development of the AgTech Park is aligned with ADQ’s strategy to grow a thriving food and agriculture ecosystem for the UAE.