The 10th edition of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES)ended Thursday, with strong growth in commercial activity surrounding the event and the number of hosted business meetings surging by more than 60 per cent. Hosted by Masdar as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, WFES aims to promote the business case for industries involved in sustainable energy, water, and waste management. Organisers say the rapid acceleration in the renewable energy market across the MENA and South Asian market has had a clear impact on business at the event. Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, said: “The success of the World Future Energy Summit over the last decade has been built on partnership – on bringing together governments and businesses, and sharing the goal to make renewable energy successful, dependable and commercially viable.
“The past three days have clearly shown the benefits of collaboration, and of what can be achieved through well-coordinated and decisive action. We are delighted to have hosted an event that has encouraged such lively debate, based on shared knowledge from around the region and international markets. The event has also helped both new relationships to be forged, and existing relationships at home and abroad to be cultivated. Most importantly, the World Future Energy Summit has once again inspired real decision-making. We can be proud that the 10th edition of this global event has been a successful platform for new agreements, partnerships and initiatives that will take the renewable energy and clean technologies sector forward.” While final attendance is yet to be confirmed, early calculations show that the figures will be consistent with pre-show estimates of around 880 exhibiting companies from about 40 countries, and 38,000 attendeesfrom 175 countries.Attendance included around 1675 CEOs from 128 countries.
In 2016, WFES hosted 850 exhibiting companies and 35,000 attendees.
While the value of most deals signed during the event is confidential, growth in attendance is outpaced by the indicators of business activity. Calculated at the start of the event’s final day, WFES 2017 hosted almost 8,600 business meetings as part of its Business Connect matchmaking programme. This compares with around 5,300 in 2016 – a rise of almost 62 per cent year-on-year. WFES organisers overhauled their approach to matchmaking this year, offering a dedicated hosted buyer programme, a powerful digital matchmaking tool for buyers and sellers that recommended meetings and products, onsite buyer concierge, and product and exhibitor matching booth. Those estimates do not include meetings arranged with official government delegations seeking partners for ambitious renewable energy plans.
As predicted, Saudi Arabia’s plans to add almost 10 gigawatts of renewables to its energy mix offered the most immediate business opportunity. WFES organisers arranged tailored meetings between the official Saudi delegation and around 100 developers, investors and technology suppliers. Leading the delegation, the Saudi Energy Minister, H.E. Khalid A. Al-Falih, confirmed that the first round of tenders for about USD 50 billion worth of projects would belaunched in two weeks. India’s plans to add 175 gigawatts of renewables by 2022 also attracted considerable interest, with a national delegation meeting potential partners in a dedicated India Investment roundtable meeting. India’s Energy Minister, Mr. Piyush Goyal, held private meetings with organisations including Masdar and DEWA, along with major players in the Indian renewable energy market such as AVAADA Energy and Mytrah Energy Limited.
Major announcements at WFES included a joint DEWA and Masdar announcement of plans to start building the third stage of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which at 800 megawatts will be the world’s largest PV plant on completion; a USD 50-million UAE fund for renewable energy projects in the Caribbean; a cooperation agreement between Masdar, Qatar Electricity and Water Corporation, and Nebras Power to develop renewable and sustainable energy projects; Masdar’s purchase of a 25 per cent stake in the pilot Hywind Scotland floating offshore wind farm in the North Sea; and an agreement between Masdar and Bee’ah to develop a 300,000-tonne waste-to-energy plant in Sharjah. Masdar will also provide consultancy services for the building of a 5 megawatt grid-connected solar power plant in Seychelles.“The growth in serious buyer activity, and the fact that so many buyers clearly see WFES as a place tostart a dialogue with the widest selection of suppliers, underlines the success of the event,”said Ara Fernezian, Group Managing Director – Middle East, at Reed Exhibitions, which organises WFES in partnership with Masdar. “Renewables have very clearly moved past the point where we were trying to create a market, and we are now part of a very dynamic business environment.”
Reflecting the maturity of the sustainable energy market, renewable sources of electricity were joined by the latest advances in storage – seen as the key to confirming the effectiveness of renewables as a consistent and reliable energy source – and innovations in fields such as carbon capture, as part of the WFES exhibition and conference programme. First held in 2008, WFES has expanded beyond its main energy focus to include co-located events for a range of interlinked markets. The 2017 edition also hosted the 5th International Water Summit (IWS), held in strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), and the 4th EcoWASTE exhibition and conference, held in partnership with Tadweer, The Center of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi (CWM). Also returning for the second year was Solar Expo, dedicated to advances in solar energy, while 2017 marked the launch of the Energy Efficiency Expo. Part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017, WFES was held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 16 to 19 January.