International Renewables Agency Hires Masdar Power Head Wouters

The International Renewable Energy Agency appointed as deputy director general Frank Wouters, formerly head of the power unit at Abu Dhabi’s government-owned low-emissions project Masdar.

Wouters started in the role this month, according to the website of the agency, known as IRENA. Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates and holder of about 6 percent of global oil reserves, won the right to host IRENA in June 2009 after it embarked on the $22 billion Masdar project and set a goal to generate 7 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

Masdar, planned as the showpiece of Abu Dhabi’s pursuit of alternative energy, delayed projects, cut costs and staff and faced resignations of senior officials as the venture revised plans to create a city powered by solar plants and other sources not producing polluting emissions.

The company cut 9 percent of its workforce in 2011 after reviewing the business and, in 2010, said it would build Masdar City in stages, with the first phase delayed by two years to 2015. The city, which houses a graduate university and several shops, is set to be open to private residents by 2015 and won’t be fully completed until 2025, according to its website. IRENA, which planned to set up offices in Masdar City on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, is now headquartered in the center of the capital.

IRENA aims to promote cooperation and sharing of information on renewable energy issues and technologies among governments, companies and citizens, according to its website. Masdar didn’t have an immediate comment on Wouters’ departure when contacted today. Wouters was in a meeting and not available when called at his office at IRENA today.

During his tenure as director of the Masdar Power unit, Wouters led implementation of electricity projects worth more than $3 billion, including two solar plants in Abu Dhabi, three in Spain and a stake in the London Array wind project.

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology’s Provost John Perkins resigned in July 2010 after a year heading the joint project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tariq Ali, the institute’s head of research, left the same year.

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