Masdar a step closer to first carbon cash

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Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Government's clean energy firm, is on track to become the first firm in the GCC to be awarded UN-administered carbon credits for two projects in the emirate.

Masdar registered two clean energy projects with the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) last year: a solar panel array at Masdar City and an energy efficiency project at a power station in Taweelah. The CDM audits and awards carbon credits for each tonne of greenhouse gases kept out of the atmosphere in developing countries. The credits can then be sold on the European market, at a current price of €12.33 (Dh58.8) a tonne.

In the last 12 months, Masdar's two projects have kept a total of 94,268 tonnes of emissions out of the atmosphere, according to monitoring reports uploaded earlier this month on the CDM website. That's worth €1.16 million at current prices, which remain low by historic standards.

A Masdar official reached yesterday emphasised that the two projects still had to clear additional bureaucratic hurdles and credits were not likely to be awarded at least for several months.

The other candidate to be the first GCC project to be awarded credits is the gas flaring reduction project at the Al Shaheen oil field in Qatar. The project is huge--reducing emissions by almost 2.5 million tonnes per year--but Qatar Petroleum has yet to file a request for credit issuance.

The reasons for the long delay remain unclear. Saif al Naimi, QP's director of health, safety and environment regulation and enforcement, told a May conference in Oman that credits would be awarded "very shortly".

Large-scale industrial projects in the GCC associated with the power and oil industries are considered by experts to be a vast potential market for CDM projects. But the Middle East as a whole has badly lagged other regions, recording just a small fraction of the carbon revenues earned by other developing regions, including East Asia and the Indian subcontinent.