Pace of energy transition must be ‘organised’, Mubadala chief says

Mubadala Investment Company will continue to invest in solar energy and clean technology, Khaldoon Al Mubarak says

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, MAR 7, 2016. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Group CEO & Managing Director, Mubadala Development Company, gives his Keynote address at the opening session of Global Aerospace Summit 2016. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National (Section: BZ-NEWS) Job ID 21396 *** Local Caption ***  bz08mr-aerospace-03.JPG

The transition away from fossil fuels towards clean energy must be approached in an “organised” way and in parallel with continued investments into hydrocarbons, Mubadala Investment Company’s chief executive and managing director said.

Halting investments into hydrocarbons during the energy transition is a “mistake”, Khaldoon Al Mubarak said during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week on Monday.

“The speed of what we need to do to decarbonise and to invest in these new sources of energy takes time,” he said.

“It will require incredible capital, it requires incredible energy, incredible organisation and incredible regulatory changes. A lot needs to happen – and is happening – but it has to happen in parallel and as much as possible we need to organise it.”

The global oil and gas industry requires more than $600 billion of investment annually to keep up with the growing demand for energy.

This is despite the global transition to cleaner forms of energy, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said in November 2021.

His comments followed a call to action from the International Energy Agency that urged countries to increase investment in clean energy and to divest from polluting fuels such as coal. Although the oil and gas producers aim to become more sustainable, a sudden growth in demand for energy have prompted calls from them to not halt investment into hydrocarbons completely.

The pace and cost of the global energy transition must be taken into account, with the definitions of green investments and regulatory frameworks still in the early stages, Raymond Dalio, co-chairman and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, said during the discussion.

“It is a big transition and there’s trying to cram a lot into that transition period very fast, and because of that it has to be smartly thought out,” Mr Dalio said. “How do you engineer a smart transition?”

Mubadala, which holds stakes in green energy company Masdar, will continue to invest in clean energy, Mr Al Mubarak said.

“We will continue to invest in solar. We will continue to invest in clean technology,” he said.

Once all four of its nuclear power reactors are in commercial operation, the UAE will have about 6,000 megawatts of nuclear power on the grid and a “substantial amount” of power decarbonised into the system, he said.

“That positions us well at cost-effective, efficient prices for both the consumer and obviously the government,” he said.

Mubadala is seeking investments in energy transition, primarily in green hydrogen, in which it is exploring investment options. In January last year, Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s holding company ADQ and state-controlled Adnoc formed a hydrogen alliance to develop the emirate’s hydrogen economy.

“Investing in clean technology and investing in climate change is a great thing to do. It benefits you from a responsibility perspective towards the world and towards people and it’s profitable and very sustainable,” Mr Al Mubarak said. “It’s a nice way for any portfolio investor to growth their portfolio in a sustainable way.”

The company’s investment portfolio spans five continents, with interests in aerospace, information and communications technology, semiconductors, metals and mining, renewable energy, petrochemicals, and oil and gas.

Updated: January 18, 2022, 7:07 AM