The Zayed Future Energy Prize, the UAE’s international awards for renewable energy and sustainability, brought together global energy leaders and influencers to address the urgency of transforming the global energy mix to safeguard energy security, enhance energy access in rural areas and mitigate climate change. The panel, including former heads of state, intergovernmental leaders and UAE dignitaries, was held following extensive deliberations to select the 2018 winners of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. The winners will be announced on 15 January 2018, at the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
Focusing on the theme of “The Evolution towards Clean Energy”, the industry leaders debated the implications of the global energy transformation, and how governments, companies, non-profits and the public contribute to accelerating the transition to a more sustainable future.
Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury and Former President of the Republic of Iceland, HE Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said: “Ten years ago, Abu Dhabi was willing to go against the current; believed in its mission and created the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Its biggest contribution thus far, is demonstrating to the world that there is an urgent need for energy transformation and that it is a reality. Truly, the Prize has given us an optimistic message that change is necessary and possible, and is in fact, happening on many different levels of society.”
Vice-Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Dr Han Seung-Soo said: “The challenge of climate change is entirely dependent on how we deal with energy problem. The work that the Zayed Future Energy Prize has done in advocating sustainable energy practices is a great service to humanity as it encourages the decarbonisation of the energy sector.”
Commenting on the changes in the energy sector in the last decade, Adnan Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said: Innovation is a key driver of the global energy transformation we are witnessing with renewable energy at its heart. IRENA’s analysis shows that this transformation creates jobs, improves human health and welfare, and will generate up to $19 trillion in global GDP growth by 2050. The Zayed Future Energy Prize recognizes visionaries and innovators who are pushing the boundaries of innovation in technology and business so we can accelerate this energy transformation and leapfrog to a sustainable energy future.”
Speaking about the role of artificial intelligence in the integration of variable energy resources, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, United Arab Emirates, HE Omar bin Sultan Al Olama said: “The International Energy Association predicted that as much as US$23 trillion is needed to improve energy efficiency and AI is the backbone of that. While the renewable energy industry is expanding quickly, the main issue faced by the industry is efficient storage and distribution. Efficiency of renewable energy production, storage and consumption can be improved by incorporating narrow AI. It shines a light on insights and anomalies to help us understand and make critical investment decisions. In the UAE, we are optimistic about the potential AI has and the corresponding benefits it can yield.”
Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market, HE Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh said: “Following in the footsteps of the late Founding Father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s leadership, the UAE has always been invested in sustainability. About a decade ago, we focused in on innovation, clean and sustainable energy by launching the Zayed Future Energy Prize. It not only honours the legacy of Sheikh Zayed, but is an initiative that predicted the transformation of energy. The Prize celebrates increasing applicants globally today and this is indicative of the transformation in the energy sector that is imminent due to renewables.”
The Prize has advanced the clean energy industry globally by helping realised project plans of small and medium enterprises, non-profit organisations and high schools from across the world. In total, the Prize and its winners have together created a positive impact on the lives of approximately 289 million people.
Commenting on the impact of the Prize, Director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, Dr Nawal Al Hosany said: “While the cleantech industry has come far in the last 10 years, the next decade will bring innovations that are hard to imagine today. The vision and creativity of innovators, no matter their station, will unlock novel solutions to today’s problems. The Zayed Future Energy Prize has not only functioned as an enabler for project plans to come to fruition but connected past winners to enhance their work in sustainability. Local projects pioneered by winning high schools have received input from technology pioneers and consequently, upgraded their projects and transformed their community for the better. At the end of the day, inspiration, empowerment and due recognition are crucial elements to moulding the next generation of energy leaders.”