Falling oil prices could have a negative impact on global efforts to develop renewable energy sources, experts have warned at a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Oil prices have fallen by almost 60 per cent since June, crashing on worries over global oversupply and weak demand in a faltering world economy.

Participants at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) conference that opened Saturday in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) said the trend could spell doom for plans to shift to clean energy.

The fall in oil prices could be a “game changer”, Italy’s Deputy Minister for Economic Development Claudio Vincenti told the two-day meeting on Saturday.  Oil price rises in the past encouraged clean energy investments, said Vincenti, adding that a long-term fall in prices could shift the balance among various energy sources.

Salem al-Hajraf, representing oil-rich Kuwait at the conference, agreed that falling oil prices posed a “major challenge” this year as was the case two decades ago.

“The fall of oil prices in the 80s was a main reason behind the collapse of many renewable energy projects,” he told participants.  Renewable energy, which relies on solar, wind and other sources, is essential for meeting global CO2 emission targets.

Delegates from more than 150 countries attended the opening session of the IRENA conference, including Israel, which has no diplomatic ties with the UAE.

Representatives from more than 110 international organisations are also taking part in the meeting.

Abu Dhabi-based IRENA, with 137 member states and the European Union, aims to promote the sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy.


By Wissam Keyrouz