UT honors efforts of Abu Dhabi energy companyWritten by Kristen Criswell | | email@example.com
The University of Toledo acknowledged the importance of developing renewable energy at the global level when it granted an honorary doctorate to Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber on July 22.
In 2006, Abu Dhabi mandated alternative energy research and development, creating Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC). Al Jaber is CEO of ADFEC.
UT President Lloyd Jacobs and former president Dan Johnson hosted the event that honored Al Jaber and the alternative energy discussion that followed.
“It seemed to me, it was important for Masdar to understand what is going on in Toledo, just as it is important for Toledo to understand what is going on in Masdar because of their common interest,” said Johnson, who works in partnership with Al Jaber and Masdar as provost and CEO of Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates.
The goal of Masdar is for Abu Dhabi to be a leader in renewable energy by developing commercially viable, sustainable energy solutions. The oil-rich nation decided that instead of waiting for technology to be developed and import it, it would invest in research and developing alternative energy, Al Jaber said.
“We want to maintain our position in the global energy market. We wanted to start positioning ourself as not only oil and gas exporters, but we wanted to position ourselves as the energy capital of the world,” Al Jaber said.
The Masdar initiative is made up of five parts; Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a university partnership with MIT that focuses on the science and engineering of advanced renewable technology; Masdar City, a city to test and develop technologies with a goal of zero carbon, zero waste; Masdar Power, with investments in concentrated solar power, photovoltaic solar energy and wind energy; Masdar Carbon, a focus on projects that reduce carbon footprints; and Masdar Venture Capital, a focus on investments within clean energy, environmental resources, energy and material efficiency and environmental services.
The $22 billion initiative has collaborations with universities and businesses from around the world, Al Jaber said.
UT has a similar commitment to advancing renewable energy as Masdar’s Al Jaber said.
He said he was impressed by what UT and Ohio have accomplished in the development of solar technology. However, Al Jaber advised the university, it needs to communicate its accomplishments better.
“[UT needs to] capitalize on what you have already built and accomplished and communicate it,” he said. “Through communication, we are able to share knowledge, share experiences and exchange our ideas. By doing all of that, UT will be able to attract talent, export knowledge and export intellectual property, at the same time attract R&D funding and investments.”
Sharing knowledge and experience, as well as collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors is key to advancing renewable energy, Al Jaber said.
“The three relationships are a must — public, private and academia. Academia will supply research abilities, human capital and intellectual contribution. Public will supply the required incentives and policies. The private sectors …at the end of the day, the private sector cares about the property value and that’s what we need. We want to make this commercially viable. If it isn’t, we’ll always be going in circles,” he said.
“What good does it do the world for us to develop Masdar City in a commercial or financially unsustainable way? It won’t do anyone any good,” he said. “The point here is to do it in a way that is first financially sustainable, commercially viable and that meets our objectives in terms of our carbon footprint.”
The U.S., which has demonstrated a capability to lead in a number of sectors, has potential to be a leader in the alternative energy field, Al Jaber said.
The United States has the infrastructure and talent to incubate renewable energy, but has no market to further accelerate development, Al Jaber said. The creation of a market for the renewable energy requires policy change, he said.
“Without policy, it would be difficult to incubate the industry or even attract investors or talent to work in the industry,” Al Jaber said. “I’m very convinced the policy that is being worked on in the U.S., and helped by the U.A.E. … I have no doubt that in the very near future we will see a renewable energy public policy that is robust, to accelerate the establishment of the renewable energy sector and the U.S. leadership.”
UT hopes to explore collaborations with Masdar in the future, but the awarding of an honorary degree isn’t to speed up that collaboration, both Jacobs and Johnson said.
“This award of the honorary degree isn’t to do anything other than recognize his global leadership. It wasn’t to create a quid pro quo. It was to make a connection, but also to recognize him,” Johnson said.
Masdar will explore possibilities of collaboration with UT, but Al Jaber will remove himself from the decision process because of his honorary degree, he said.
For more information, visit the website www.masdar.ae.com.