Energy ministers from South American and Arab countries have made renewable energy a top priority for cooperation between the two regions following a high-level meeting in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, on 16 January. The Abu Dhabi Declaration, which came out of the first bi-regional meeting of South American and Arab League energy ministers and senior officials, also endorses the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), as “a primary forum for cooperation and support for inter-regional initiatives, in cooperation with the Latin American Energy Organisation (OLADE).”
“The falling cost of renewable energy technologies, increasing political will and the high potential of renewable energy resources show that there is a tremendous opportunity to power a sustainable future,” said IRENA’s Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin. “There is a huge opportunity to work together,” he added. “Both regions need to strengthen energy security and diversify their energy mix.”
Both regions have high potential to develop renewable energy. Hydro-power makes up more than 50 per cent of the energy mix in South America, with extensive resources still to be tapped, and several South American countries are major biodiesel producers. IRENA is currently examining barriers to geothermal development, an area of huge potential for the continent.
The Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa are seeking mainly to develop solar and wind power, with geothermal potential also being investigated. While much of the region has large fossil-fuel reserves, most Arab countries have adopted renewable energy targets. Because of water scarcity, many countries have high energy demand for desalination. “Domestic use of oil [at low, subsidised prices] is not attractive,” Mr Amin said. “Resource-rich countries can do better exporting this oil and generating electricity domestically from other sources.”
The Declaration calls for the two regions to cooperate in renewable energy as a key aspect of sustainable development, and to exchange knowledge and experiences with policy, resource assessment, investment and financing, cost data, grid interconnection and energy storage, and capacity-building in the sector. The energy officials also agreed to cooperate on oil and gas, energy efficiency and power projects, and to develop a three-year work programme and hold further ministerial meetings every three years, with interim follow-up on implementation.
The Abu Dhabi Declaration can be viewed here.