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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en la sesión plenaria de la Cumbre Mundial sobre las Energías del Futuro

Abu Dhabi, 18.01.2010

O

n behalf of the Princess and myself, I would like to express our most sincere gratitude to H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and to H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, for their warm hospitality and kind invitation. Our two countries are linked by old and intense ties of friendship.

It is a real pleasure to be here in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to attend this opening ceremony of this prestigious World Future Energy Summit. Thank you for granting me the opportunity to address such a distinguished audience. Spain is a country with special drive and experience in the development of renewable energy.

And as was mentioned allow me to draw away our attention from this important international meeting and briefly express our deepest sorrow and true heartfelt solidarity with the dear people of Haiti. The sheer magnitude of tragic human loss and general devastation is very hard to conceive and makes for such a prompt and generous large scale multinational effort in emergency and humanitarian relief that is currently. We wish that this will be sustained in all fields to help Haitians regain hope and put their country back on its feet as soon as possible.

I would like to shave the deep sorrow and the heartfelt solidarity with the dear people of Haiti.

Let me continue by paying homage to the memory of the founder of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, who many years ago had the foresight to initiate an environmental strategy so beneficial to this noble land. His policies enabled the Emirates to successfully develop green zones and agriculture, as well as land and marine nature reserves, thus protecting the environment and reducing all forms of pollution.

I wish to recognize the extraordinary role that the United Arab Emirates have played ever since in developing renewable energy at both national and international levels. Spain is well aware, and highly appreciative of the wisdom and determination inspiring this country?s renewable energy policies. For these, and many other praiseworthy reasons, the Kingdom of Spain gave its firm/clear support to Abu Dhabi?s candidature to host the IRENA Secretariat.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Interdependence among nations is no longer an abstract idea. In recent years, we have seen how a specific financial crisis has morphed into a generalized international economic crisis, one of almost unprecedented magnitude.

In the energy sector, interdependence has become an even more pressing issue. Major energy sources are geographically concentrated. Transport and distribution infrastructures often require transnational agreements. Moreover, greenhouse gases, wherever their origin, affect the environmental balance all over the planet.

Such growing interdependence explains why international cooperation and, especially, multilateralism are so important in the energy sector; hence the high value of jointly analysing the energy challenges of the future at this Summit. Although interdependence means sharing our problems, fortunately it also means working together on to solve them.

Therefore I am very pleased to underline how the development of renewable energy is offering the international community a course of action able to reconcile the demands of future economic growth with the necessary respect of the environment.

Let me also highlight that renewable energy is essential for the future of 1.6 billion people who still, do not have access to electricity. We have the responsibility to accelerate and to multiply the use of renewable energy sources, in order to meet the world?s growing demand; we need to invest more in technology to lower the real cost that still obliges subsidy schemes by many governments; and we should make extra efforts to develop more efficient transmission grids. There should be no shortage of energy, if the potential of renewable sources is adequately used.

Public sector promotion, followed by innovative efforts in private investment, have been necessary in order to develop renewable energy sources. In 2006, it was estimated that the transition to a low-carbon economy would generate business opportunities worth 500 billion Euros in 2050. Many of these opportunities are already in sight.

Allow me to proudly say that Spain is a good example. Our country was an early adapter in committing to renewable energy, a commitment that has been constant and resolute ever since, thanks to many Spanish companies using advanced technology and enjoying worldwide prestige and recognition.

In the year 2000, the wind power capacity installed in Spain already topped 2,000 megawatts. Today, this capacity is approximately 20,000 megawatts, and we hope to double it by 2020. Moreover, Spain is a world leader in installed power capacity of such technologies as solar photovoltaic energy? with almost 4,000 megawatts installed? and thermoelectric solar power, with projects that summed up to 2,500 megawatts.

Due to all these efforts, in 2009 more than 26% of the electricity generated in Spain came from renewable energy sources. In short, Spain has an extraordinarily reliable experience and know-how in this field.

On the other hand, in our country the introduction of renewable energy has had an immediate positive impact on the environment. In Spain just five years ago, nearly 500 tonnes of CO2 were emitted into the atmosphere for each gigawatt hour of our produced electricity. Now, thanks to a cleaner generation mix, less than 300 tonnes of CO2 are emitted per gigawatt hour that we produce.

In this respect I ought to add that the development of renewable energy is also essential for the European Union, whose rotating Presidency Spain holds this semester. The European Union as a whole has decided in 2007 to set a binding target by which renewable energy in the year 2020 must reach 20% of final energy consumption.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The positive outrun of renewable energy can also be felt or seen in other areas. Renewable energy generates highly qualified jobs, since it makes intensive use of technological capital, which helps economies to make the transition higher up the value chain. At the same time, its adequate geographic distribution can promote rural development, and strengthen countries' territorial balance.

This range of beneficial effects should stimulate the development of multilateral projects that serve the interests of all participating countries. This is the goal of permanent structures such as IRENA, as well as of other specific initiatives of great impact such as the Mediterranean Solar Plan.

The need to promote international cooperation for the development of renewable energy is, at least, twofold.

On the one hand, to guarantee a balanced mix since renewable energy has to coexist with other energy sources. As the oil industry was developed in the twentieth century, many declared that the age of coal was over. Today, however, coal still represents nearly 30% of primary energy worldwide.

On the other hand cooperation should also focus on uniting national efforts in the technological arena. Each new project facilitates the advance of these technologies up their learning curve, bringing renewable energy to the threshold of cost competitiveness with other technologies.

As an example, wind turbines being installed today around the world are the result of two inventions that are far apart from each other in time and space: first the windmills, which became widespread in Persia in the ninth century, and which since the seventeenth century have been associated with the image of Spain, due to our most famous novel,?Don Quixote of La Mancha?; and much later came the turbines, associated with electric generators, developed in the nineteenth century in the United Kingdom.

Let me finish my words, by underlining the fact that history has shown to what extend cooperation - such as the cooperation being promoted at this Summit- is always the most fruitful investment. You can count on the contribution, experience and knowledge of our authorities and companies to foster such an ambitious and future oriented cooperation.

Thank you once again for your kind invitation. I wish you all great success in your inspiring work, which has Spain's support and encouragement from the very beginning.

Thank you very much, and congratulations to you all.

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