The 7th World Future Energy Summit, or WFES 2014, is set to kick off 20-22 January in Abu Dhabi. The event, which is organized by Reed Exhibitions and hosted by Masdar, is expected to draw a wide range of stakeholders in the energy, energy-efficiency and clean energy sectors.
Renewable Energy Focus magazine recently sat down with Naji El Haddad, WFES show director, to get a preview of what's to come:
REF: What are the major objectives for this year’s event?
El Haddad: We live in a world where the environment is constantly evolving. Population growth, urban expansion and changing environmental conditions are impacting global energy resources. Given the significant role of energy to economic growth, governments are wrestling with how to solve the growing energy security, access and efficiency problems.
The World Future Energy Summit (WFES) is about providing innovative solutions for these key concerns. It is a platform for global collaboration in the area of renewable energy and sustainable technologies, where policy-makers, business and technology leaders meet with innovators, investors, academics and researchers.
We expect leading energy industry professionals from around the world to sharethought-provoking and inspiring insights
on the most current and pressing issues, including waste-to-energy, the gas revolution, and, of course, the key subject of energy efficiency.
WFES is the gateway to the MENA region for global companies in the clean energy sector. Therefore, we also expect global companies and solution providers to display their innovations in the renewable energy sector and seek further investment opportunities.
REF: How have you noticed the energy scene changing in the Gulf Region and how will this be reflected in the event this year?
El Haddad: Improvements in energy efficiency and the continued development of renewable energy sources are major changes in the GCC energy sector that are reflected in this year’s event. It’s the merging of the energy industry with sustainable practices such as improvements in the desalination process, which is vital as the UAE gets 90 per cent of its water from desalination. We’re witnessing desalination plants that are now being powered by solar power and significant improvements in the desalination process as plants are becoming more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
All of this translates into less impact on the environment and it promotes sustainable living in the region as the energy sector implements new practices, governments and consumers also adopt sustainable living habits and practices.
Examples of changes in the GCC energy sector are best reflected at WFES this year with the presence of the International Desalination Association (IDA) at the International Water Summit. This year the IDA will be offering training sessions and workshops offering best industry practices and challenging the desalination industry to adopt new energy efficiency standards.
Large-scale solar facilities such as Masdar’s 100MW Shams 1 solar thermal plant in Abu Dhabi, the proposed 1,000MW solar park in Dubai and Saudi Arabia’s ambitious 6GW solar target by 2020 are some of MENA’s important solar energy projects and success stories that will be highlighted at WFES this year.
REF: Who are the key speakers and organisations involved?
El Haddad: Just a few of the key speakers are: H.E. Eng. Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy, Ministry for State Federal National Council Affairs, United Arab Emirates; Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA); Jos Verbeek, Lead Economist, World Bank; Richard van Leeuwen, United Nations Foundation; and Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.
WFES has several key partners, including its host, Masdar. Sponsors include Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Emirates Aluminum, Total, Shell, Occidental Petroleum, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Schneider Electric, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and Sun Edison; the official airline is Etihad.
REF: What is at "must see" about this year’s event?
El Haddad: The Sustainable Living Expo is not to miss, as it showcases practical sustainable living models with an eco-home and an eco-hotel. Also, the Sustainable Water Solutions Village at the co-located International Water Summit will be a highlight as it’s focused on solving the UAE ground water crisis by introducing sustainable agriculture programs and innovative water networks. We are also excited about the 2014 edition of the Project & Finance Village, an interactive and innovative platform specially designed for clean energy project developers and entrepreneurs to connect with banks and financiers.
Finally, to address the interrelated issues of water, energy and waste, WFES will be co-located with the inaugural EcoWASTE exhibition, which is an exciting new initiative for waste treatment, waste management, recycling and environmental sustainability within the Middle East and beyond.
REF: Finally, what are the main reasons why organisations and individuals should visit WFES 2014?
El Haddad: The World Future Energy Summit has become the world’s preeminent gathering for renewable energy and the advancement of sustainable technologies. It is unique because it creates a collaborative environment where government and private sector leaders work together to solve major energy issues.
WFES 2014 is held as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) and is co-located with IWS and EcoWASTE. The interconnectivity of WFES, IWS and EcoWASTE will bring these communities under one roof and will encourage dialogue, solutions, business, innovation and research, technologies for a sustainable future.
In addition, the Green Career Fair, an event in partnership with Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Reed Exhibitions, will be held during WFES 2014. The career fair emerges as a great opportunity for recruiters to highlight opportunities in their companies and for young people to get career guidance and potentially find a job in the renewable energy and sustainability industry.
Whether to win business, invest, network or simply learn more about the industry, theWorld Future Energy Summit 2014
will allow the expected 1,000 delegates, and approximately 26,000 attendees from all over the world, to explore opportunities in renewable energy and sustainable development.