Fascinating day in Abu Dhabi yesterday, where some of the biggest names in politics – not to mention the world’s media and several hundred exhibitors from around the world - have gathered for the fourth annual World Future Energy Summit.
It’s perhaps the biggest event you’ve never heard of (I certainly hadn’t before this year) where everyone from multinational oil companies to UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon get together to discuss renewable energy and its implementation in different sectors, include motoring.
This morning’s opening ceremony was predictably packed with crowd-pleasing soundbites; Ki-Moon said the energy sector “must look beyond fossil fuels” and “we need a global clean energy revolution that makes it affordable for all”.
But there were some facts and figures dropped in that highlighted the need for the politicians, delegates and energy companies to stop the talking and start to deliver on infrastructures to support future powertrain technology manufacturers have already developed before the oil wells finally run dry.
Worldwide energy consumption will go up 40 per cent in just 20 years and an investment of 700bn USD will be needed in renewable energy if this demand is to be supported. “Investing in renewable energy shouldn’t be a luxury,” said Ki-Moon. “We already have the technology there – and there is more in the pipeline. Now we need competition in the sectors to attract government incentives and make the technology affordable for all.”
Which is all very nice in theory; summits like this have a tendency to over promise and under deliver. Mercedes this year is the first European manufacturer at the show and is displaying some of its alternatively fuelled cars of the future, many of which could go into production tomorrow if the infrastructure was there to support them.
Hopefully the decision makers at the show will see (and sample) some of Merc’s offerings and realise the car manufacturers have delivered and they have not. I drove the new electric A-class here yesterday and it was as good as the Toyota Prius I drove to the airport in.
Over the next two days there are two highlights in the Summit’s plenary sessions schedule: one will look at the electric vehicle being stuck on the cusp of deployment and the other will plot hydrogen’s future as a fuel. With speakers including Merc’s E-drive chief, Henrik Fisker and the man responsible for creating Amsterdam’s blossoming EV network, some strong answers and well-placed opinions on exactly where the future of alternatively fuelled motoring is heading will emerge.