Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2015 Kicks Off UAE’s ‘Year of Innovation’

Global event promotes technology development to address resource security, sustainable development and climate risk

Abu Dhabi, UAE: 12 January, 2015 – Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is the first major event of 2015 reinforcing the UAE’s ‘Year of Innovation’ – a federal initiative promoting innovation as a strategic pathway to strengthen the country’s economy and global competitiveness. The yearly platform, January 17-24, directly supports the federal innovation strategy by promoting technology and attracting investment in priority sectors, including renewable energy, transportation, water and education.

“Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week kicks-off an important year, as our leadership embarks on an ambitious, strategic initiative to promote innovation and to stimulate economic growth,” said H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and chairman of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. “Aimed at advancing technology, forging partnerships and driving investment, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week complements the UAE’s efforts to embed innovation into our nation’s economy and social fabric.”

ADSW unites the international players necessary to accelerate commercial solutions addressing the interconnected challenges of energy and water security, climate risk and sustainable development.

“Promoting innovation – be it through novel ideas or new technology – is fundamental to preserving resources, diversifying sources of energy and mitigating climate change,” said Al Jaber. “This January, the global community will be in Abu Dhabi to forge viable, commercial solutions that enable sustainable development locally and globally.”

The conference program is a fundamental factor to the event’s success.

The program is designed to encourage innovative thinking, collaboration and action by focusing on timely, pressing issues affecting sustainable development. Some of the key issues highlighted this year include: the power of partnership, technological innovation and innovative financing.

The Power of Partnership

The power of partnership – how working together can lead to innovative solutions – will be examined by highlighting key UAE-led projects. Two projects spotlighted include Al Reyadah – a cutting-edge carbon, capture, usage and storage (CCUS) joint partnership – and the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a ground-breaking bioenergy research program. Both Abu Dhabi-based projects would not be possible without the union of cross-discipline partners.

Al Reyadah combines Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s (ADNOC) experience in the oil and gas sector with Masdar’s know-how in clean technology to deliver a commercially viable CCUS system. The program captures and sequesters industrial carbon, enhances oil recovery and delivers environmental benefits.

SBRC is a research project – which unites the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Etihad Airways and Boeing – with the breakthrough potential of producing alternative fuels whose production supports, not competes with, food security and water conservation.

Technological Innovation

Pioneering examples of innovation will be on display during ADSW. The Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) – a solar-powered plane that will fly round the world without using a single drop of fuel – will be in Abu Dhabi in January as it prepares for the historic flight. Hosted by Masdar, the plane is an example of how pioneering pursuits – and imagination – can drive innovation. For example, the plane’s technology partners had to anticipate and solve for the complex challenges and conditions the pilots and the plane would undergo.

“From protecting the plane’s solar panels from harsh flight conditions to the development of light-weight materials, the Solar Impulse is a symbol of what can be achieved through human ingenuity,” said Al Jaber. “The daring journey pushes innovation and, as a result, will have a a trickle-down effect as technologies make their way to the market.

“Abu Dhabi and Solar Impulse have in common a pioneering spirit and a desire to explore new horizons,” said Al Jaber. “We share a commitment to foster innovation and to advance clean technologies that contribute to a cleaner, sustainable future.”

The Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge will also highlight the power of innovation.

Hosted by Masdar and ADNOC, the UAE will be home to an international road competition where more than 20 teams will showcase the technology and speed of their solar-powered cars. Representing the UAE will be students from the Petroleum Institute (PI) who will compete and drive a super-sleek, solar-powered vehicle. Held January 15-19, the multi-day, timed road competition will extend across 1,200 kilometres of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

“The entire UAE community will have an opportunity to engage with this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week,” said Al Jaber. “From a road competition – showcasing the latest is automotive technology – to the arrival of the Solar Impulse, people of all ages will see first-hand what innovative thinking, personal ambition and technology can achieve.”

Innovative Financing

The role for innovative financing mechanisms – from green bonds to public-private-partnership – is an especially critical issue as access to capital has become difficult during the economic slowdown. The topic will be debated and novel approaches presented in an effort to identify pathways of unlocking capital markets to finance clean energy projects.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week includes a series of events: the fifth assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency; the eighth World Future Energy Summit; the third International Water Summit; the second EcoWASTE exhibition; and the seventh Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards Ceremony.