Alex Salmond signs Abu Dhabi green energy deal

SCOTLAND is to tie up a deal with one of the world’s richest cities to boost the burgeoning renewable energy sector.

The deal – to be signed by First Minister Alex Salmond next week – will involve Scottish universities working with academics in Abu Dhabi’s renewables giant Masdar to produce new technologies to power wind, solar, wave and tidal machines.

Industry analysts hope the partnership could eventually lead to massive investment from Abu Dhabi – one of the wealthiest places on earth – into Scotland, where new renewables firms are trying to get investment for prototypes.

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The deal is also a major boost for a joint venture by Scottish universities, the Energy Technology Partnership, already the largest energy research link-up in Europe.

Salmond is also expected to use his visit to Abu Dhabi next week to attend a global energy forum to confirm a new air route between Scotland and the Middle East, providing a second direct link to the region, in addition to the Glasgow-Dubai connection. Salmond has recently visited Qatar, which will host the football World Cup in 2022 and Qatar Airways has expressed an interest in running services to either Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Masdar, owned by the city of Abu Dhabi, was set up five years ago to wean it away from its dependence on oil and invest in renewable energy projects. Along with a university, the firm also is building an entire city outside Abu Dhabi for 40,000 people, designed to be reliant on renewable energy. It has a multi-million pound capital fund for investment in projects across the world.

Salmond said last night: “It is clear that the work Masdar is taking forward on leading us to a low-carbon society is in perfect synchronisation with the work we are doing here in Scotland.

“This is the first agreement of its kind between Masdar and an individual nation and will work towards developing further university research into renewable energy.”

The deal will see researchers from Scottish universities working alongside experts from Abu Dhabi. Scottish projects include designing generators to boost wind turbine efficiency, testing tidal energy machines, and research into ultra-thin solar cells.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables said the partnership was “potentially highly significant” as it might give Scottish R&D projects access to Masdar’s huge capital reserves.