Bruno Bensasson, chief executive of EDF Renewables

France’s EDF Renewables plans to participate in energy tenders in the UAE, CEO says

EDF Renewables, part of French utility EDF, plans to expand its presence in the UAE by participating in new energy tenders issued in the country, according to the company's chief executive.
We have intentions to continue developing in the Emirates and we will of course participate in upcoming tenders
Bruno Bensasson told the National in an interview

EDF Renewables was part of a Masdar-led consortium that developed the third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.

It also holds a 20 per cent stake in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra solar project, which will use 3.5 million solar panels to power about 160,000 homes once it becomes operational.

The UAE has been focusing heavily on renewable energy as part of its Net Zero by 2050 initiative. As part of the strategy, it plans to invest Dh600 billion ($163 billion) in clean and renewable energy sources in the next three decades.

Overall, EDF Renewables is “on track” to double its net capacity of global renewable energy to 60 gigawatts by 2030, Mr Bensasson said.

“We still have [some] bottlenecks [and] constraints in the supply chain…[but] now are on a good pace to be on track,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis have placed significant strain on global supply chains. The disruptions were exacerbated by frequent lockdowns in China, the world’s largest solar equipment manufacturer.

Prices of solar modules and polysilicon — a key raw material for manufacturing solar cells — are a “bit more reasonable” after staying high in 2021 and 2022, Mr Bensasson said.

“We have to be careful on supply chains [but] I am confident that the [global] industry [and] China can cope with it. There is a big supply [and] … a big demand in China.”

Countries such as the US and India are planning to manufacture solar panels and this could help reduce supply-side risks, he said.

“The solution is everywhere.”

Last year, the US passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which offers a series of tax incentives on wind, solar, hydropower and other renewables as well as a push towards electric vehicle ownership.

“Now, we have some module suppliers that are contemplating the possibility to have some manufacturing plants in the US … instead of fully importing [the products],” said Mr Bensasson.

“Each and every country has to find its balance in terms of economics, free trade and industrialisation,” he said.

In February, the EU launched the Green Deal Industrial Plan to boost the “competitiveness” of Europe’s net-zero industry and support the fast transition to climate neutrality.

While Europe is well on course to transition to renewable energy, the region still has a “bit of homework” to do when it comes to hydrogen and carbon capture, the EDF Renewables chief said.

Land access has also been a “hurdle” in Europe despite efforts made by various governments to shorten permitting times and reduce bureaucracy.

However, access to capital in the region is not a big concern as investors are willing to pump money into new projects, he added.

Global investment in energy transition technologies last year, including energy efficiency, reached $1.3 trillion, up 19 per cent from 2021 levels, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

“Sometimes there’s a question of … how do you bring the renewable energy downstream to the customers?” said Mr Bensasson.

“We need to bring that to the downstream to change the way we use energy in transport, housing [and] industry.

“On the upstream side … I am quite confident because we are not that far.”

Mr Bensasson said it was time for countries to “walk the talk” on clean energy.

“We need a clear trajectory and, moreover, the means. Every country has to find its way.”

Investment in renewable energy needs to double to more than $4 trillion by the end of the decade to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2050, the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook last year.

The IEA’s stated policies scenario (Steps), which is based on the latest policy settings worldwide, expects clean energy investment to rise to slightly more than $2 trillion by 2030.

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