Oil Price Slump Puts at Risk Clean Energy Push

Oil Price Slump Puts at Risk Clean Energy PushOil Price Slump Puts at Risk Clean Energy Push

Falling oil prices could have a negative impact on global efforts to develop renewable energy sources, AFP quoted experts as saying at a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Oil prices have fallen by almost 60 percent since June, crashing on worries over global oversupply and weak demand in a faltering world economy. Participants at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) conference that opened Saturday in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) said the trend could spell doom for plans to shift to clean energy.

The fall in oil prices could be a "game changer", Italy's Deputy Minister for Economic Development Claudio Vincenti told the two-day meeting.

Oil price rises in the past encouraged clean energy investments, said Vincenti, adding that a long-term fall in prices could shift the balance among various energy sources. He did not elaborate. A positive trend recorded in this regard is the "massive drop" in costs of renewables. Costs of renewable energy have fallen by as much as 75 percent in the last five years, especially for solar and wind energy. "Onshore wind power witnessed most price drops in 2014, and it is now available in over 100 countries," said Adnan Amin, director-general of IRENA.

As a result of low costs, investment in renewable energy is on the rise. Last year alone, investments in renewables and clean energy worldwide created 6.5 million jobs.

  Growing Importance

"The story of renewables is rapidly evolving and as the importance of renewable energy grows, so does the relevance of the agency's work," Amin told the conference.

Salem al-Hajraf, representing oil-rich Kuwait at the conference, agreed that falling oil prices posed a "major challenge" this year as was the case two decades ago.

Green bonds (tax-exempt bonds that are issued by federally qualified organizations and/or municipalities for the development of brownfield sites) have reached $40 billion and by the end of 2015, they are expected to reach $100 billion. "Increasing renewable energy is a viable weapon against climate change," said Amin, adding that 80 per cent of the global carbon emissions comes from fossil fuels.

"The fall of oil prices in the 80s was a main reason behind the collapse of many renewable energy projects," he told participants. Renewable energy, which relies on solar, wind and other sources, is essential for meeting global CO2 emission targets. Delegates from more than 150 countries attended the opening session of the IRENA conference. Representatives from more than 110 international organizations are also taking part in the meeting.  He said that total world investments in renewable energies had reached $264 billion in 2014, $50 billion more than the previous year.

At the meeting, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, in partnership with IRENA, will announce a series of loans for five renewable energy projects in developing countries, organizers said. Abu Dhabi-based IRENA, with 137 member states and the European Union, aims to promote the sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to attend Future Energy Summit while French Energy and Environment Minister Segolene Royal will take part in the water summit.

Abu Dhabi is to display a solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2, that does not use any fuel and which will fly out from the Emirati capital in March on a five-month tour, according to energy company Masdar.

In March last year, Abu Dhabi opened the world's largest operating plant of concentrated solar power, which has the capacity to provide electricity to 20,000 homes.