Abu Dhabi-The Third Annual World Future Energy Summit formally has kicked off in Abu Dhabi. World leaders, scientists and executives spoke. But rather than write stories on each, here's a selection of quotes and comments from them all.
--The United Arab Emirates likes nuclear. "Hydrocarbons will play a role. Renewables will play a critical role and nuclear energy for some time until renewable energy is able to get to the point where it is economical and can scale will play a role," said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, the sprawling alternative energy/education/urban planning project launched by Abu Dhabi said during a presentation yesterday evening. "Nuclear is not a net zero carbon source of energy but it is a net zero carbon source of power."
Jaber also noted that investments in alternative energy came to $155 billion dollars last year, a four-fold increase since 2004. Despite the economic downturn "renewables maintain their relevance and still make sense," he further stated in a presentation this morning. (Sultan, by the way, is not his title. It is his first name.) Abu Dhabi is heading up the effort to make IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, an international renewable energy equivalent of the International Energy Agency.
--The leader of Greece, Karolos Papoulias, and Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, spoke during the same presentation. Papoulias did not stand up to shake Erdogan's hand when Erdogan approached, but Papoulias has about three decades on Turkey's leader. Turkey gets 20 percent of its electricity from renewable now and wants to expand to 30 percent by 2023, said Erdogan, with 200 megawatts coming from wind and 600 megawatts coming from geothermal by then. It is also helping build natural gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia and Qatar to increase energy security for Europe. (Security referring to reducing reliance on Russia.)
--The president of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, was one of the day's more eloquent speakers. "We cannot negotiate with the laws of physics. We cannot cut a deal with Mother Nature," he said. "By the end of the century we need to be carbon neutral."
--Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, was also on hand. Malaysia wants to have 2 gigawatts of renewables as part of its mix by 2020. Now, it has 15 megawatts.
--And so were the crown princes of Spain and Denmark. Spain has 20 gigawatts of wind power, 4 gigawatts of solar and 2.5 gigawatts of geothermal asserted Prince Felipe. Spain used to produce 500 tons of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour of power. Now it produces only 300 tons. More than 26 percent of Spain's power in 2009 came from renewable. Prince Fredrik of Denmark a little while later one-upped him with Denmark's 28 percent renewable figure.
--Why aren't aluminum manufacturers getting into the market for making silicon for solar panels, wondered Eicke Weber, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, in a talk later in the afternoon. The processes and the equipment are almost the same.
Weber also made a pitch for waste heat and co-generation plants, which produce heat and electricity from natural gas.
"Co-generation is a true bridge technology. It is almost a sin, a thermodynamic sin, to throw away 20 to 30 percent of the energy in cooling towers as heat," he said.
--Second generation biofuels are coming, but it will still be a few years. BP hopes to start commercially producing biobutanol, which can be mixed into diesel or burned as jet fuel, through a joint venture by 2015, said Katrina Landis, group vice president of BP Alternative Energy. It also hopes to produce cellulosic ethanol by 2012, but price and policy are still looming issues.
"We want to be certain that the world wants advanced biofuels," she said. "We are making good progress, but we still have a ways to go."
--A lot of other investors and executives-Wolfgang Dehen, CEO of the energy sector at Siemens; Tatsuhiko Yasukochi, general manager of the Development Bank of Japan; Frank Mastiaux, CEO of utility E.On; Peter Gutman of Standard Chartered Bank-noted that, although a lot of technology exists, stable public policy support are needed. Carbon taxes will help but they won't be a panacea.
"A volatile carbon price is not helpful for long term finance," Gutman said.
--Silicon Valley is not represented in large numbers, but some names are here. Bill Gross has been prowling around the eSolar booth. Applied Materials is here, and there is an Arabic company with a Tesla Roadster in its booth.
--But it's not the only electric car. Siemens is showing off a Porsche that's been retrofitted with batteries. See picture.