DIFC Economics Workshop discusses key risks and challenges in financing renewable energy projects in the MENA Region



Middle East investment in clean energy has increased 45% over last three years

The Dubai International Financial Centre Authority today hosted an economic workshop to discuss the major challenges in renewable energy financing and explore practical solutions for securing funding for renewable energy projects, at the DIFC Conference Centre.

The event titled "Financing Renewable Energy Projects", was held in partnership with the International Project Finance Association (IPFA), with participation from Masdar, and is the eleventh in the DIFC Economics Workshop series.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Nasser Saidi, Chief Economist and Head of External Relations of the DIFC Authority said, "Access to affordable energy is critical to economic progress, especially in the context of emerging and developing economies. Today, nearly 1.6 billion people globally have no regular access to reliable energy services. One of the biggest hurdles to the growth of renewable energy projects is financing, particularly as the infrastructure, materials and technologies involved in these projects require large upfront costs. Governments will also need to provide regulatory and financial incentives for increased consumption and production of renewable energy, as well as phase out subsidies for petroleum based energy production."

"The UAE has taken the lead in investing in mega-scale renewable energy projects particularly with the creation of projects such as Masdar and IRENA's (International Renewable Energy Agency) decision to move its headquarters to Abu Dhabi. In 2009, the Middle East region invested a total of USD 1.67 billion in clean energy projects, a clear rise from the total of USD 745 million invested in 2007. However, in light of the global credit crunch, there is a clear need to explore alternate sources of funding as well create a sound legal framework to support renewable energy financing in order to maintain a leadership position in this fast-evolving sector."

"The strong regulatory framework and vast pool of financial expertise available within the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) enables it to be a key facilitator for financing renewable energy projects. With a large number of financial institutions, DIFC can facilitate funding for a range of small and large-scale renewable energy projects as well as venture capital for start-ups. Furthermore, DIFC provides the institutional infrastructure necessary for establishing a full-fledged carbon credit exchange. The Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) based in DIFC has the potential to develop itself into the leading centre for trading carbon credits, east of Europe," added Dr. Saidi.

"Renewable energy projects are challenging governments across the world. The recent incident in the Gulf of Mexico has highlighted the importance of developing this new energy source as quickly and economically as possible. IPFA strongly welcomes the initiative by the DIFC to raise awareness on finding alternate and sustainable methods of financing renewable energy projects," said Geoff Haley, Founder and Chairman of the IPFA

As well as Dr. Saidi and Geoff Haley, the event featured prominent regional speakers from the renewable energy sector including Richard Reynolds, Departments Manager Supply Chain at Masdar City, Sami Kamel, General Manager ME & Africa Regional Marketing, General Electric Energy, Frank Beckers, Managing Director, Global Co-Head Project & Capital Advisory (Middle East, Africa & Asia), Deutsche Bank, Tom Waterhouse, Joint General Manager, Head of Energy & Natural Resources, Project Finance, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and IPFA ME London Committee Member, Aaron Bielenberg, Senior Associate, Latham & Watkins and member of the Clean Eneregy Business Council (MENA) and Karim Nassif, Associate Director, Standard & Poors.

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