The CEO of Abu Dhabi sustainable developer Masdar, Ahmad Belhoul, said renewables development was not linked to the price of oil, but that rising demand offered opportunities for the energy industry, in a speech made to the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi on 20 January.

“Oil prices are at a five-year low,” said Belhoul. “Some equate this with a low appetite for renewables, but the relationship between oil prices and renewable energy no longer holds true. Rapidly rising demand due to population growth and adoption of the latest technologies by consumers now drives the adoption of renewables technology.”

He underlined the commitment of Abu Dhabi to developing renewables in the emirate and the wider region, as Masdar’s experience reinforces regional efforts. The fluctuation in fuel prices highlights the need to diversify the energy mix, as renewable energy has no fuel costs.

Belhoul also referred to the falling costs of solar, which now competes with conventional energy sources even in the GCC. An International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) report on renewables generation costs in 2014 showed that solar costs fell by up to 65 per cent between 2010 and 2014, to as low as $0.08 a kilowatt hour (kWh) where irradiation levels were high.

“With a growing population and demand but finite resources, we must rethink the relationship between renewable and conventional energy,” said Belhoul. “We need a different business model where they work in harmony.”

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