Suhail Al Mazroui, the UAE’s Minister of Energy, said on Wednesday that lower oil prices were not affecting demand for renewable energy or the country’s targets to reduce energy consumption.

He added that Abu Dhabi will soon announce new targets for the use of renewable energy in the next few years. “Oil is always more expensive than gas. The comparison between the renewable or solar now is gas and solar. Renewable energy is already very competitive, and I don’t think it needs subsidy. It can compete with gas, and it is competing with gas. The issue is the storage of energy, which we need to resolve because [solar] only gives you electricity during the day time,” he said.

His remarks follow similar comments from Ahmad Bel Houl, chief executive of Masdar, on Monday and recent reports from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Brent, the international benchmark for oil, was trading at $59 at around 4.30pm UAE time on Wednesday, having reached its lowest below $50 in January this year — a drop of over 50% from the peaks last June of $115 per barrel.

The plunge in prices over the past few months is attributed to lower demand from China and Russia, combined with stable levels of supply from Opec (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries), and increased shale production in the US.

Speaking to Gulf News, Al Mazroui added that the ministry was also working on the conservation of energy law that tackles the incentives and initiatives that need to be taken in order to reduce energy consumption.

“The diversity of energy is one of the targets that we aspire for in the United Arab Emirates, and the role of renewable energy is significant. Dubai has changed its targets, and we are now working with the emirate of Abu Dhabi on getting a target.

As part of the energy policy for the [UAE], which the ministry is working on, we will come up with all those numbers that will take us to 2030,” he said.

Dubai has already raised its targets from one per cent by 2020 to five per cent, with the figure also going up from five per cent by 2030 to 15%.

The minister was speaking on the sidelines of Saint-Gobain Days, a two-day environmental forum in Abu Dhabi celebrating the 350th anniversary of Saint-Gobain, a French company specialising in the habitat and construction markets.

Source: Gulf News