Abu Dhabi National Energy (TAQA), the United Arab Emirates state-owned oil exploration company, sold its 7 percent share of Tesla Motors. TAQA made a tidy $113 million profit and then made its portfolio a tad less diverse by investing the money in a northern Iraq power plant.
TAQA took advantage of Tesla’s recent stock rally, the value of which has doubled since the energy company received the automaker’s shares. The high end electric vehicle manufacturer says it is on target to reach profitability next year, but nevertheless TAQA had decided Tesla was not a core investment.
For TAQA and Abu Dhabi, the stock’s sale was a very quick buck. TAQA had only had the 7 million shares of stock, which was 7 percent of Tesla’s equity, since December 2010. But for Abu Dhabi, which has 94 percent of the UAE’s oil reserves and manages over half of the country’s GDP, the future for now is investing in energy projects throughout the Middle East. The emirate is not exactly exiting its investments in the automobile industry, however; it is still the largest shareholder in Daimler via one of its sovereign wealth funds.
Observers who wonder if this is a sign that the UAE and other Gulf countries are not confident about clean technology and clean energy investments are reading too much in this relatively small transaction. Abu Dhabi is still moving forward on its Masdar City complex, a futuristic zero-carbon and zero-waste city to which Siemens will relocate its Middle East headquarters. A $600 million solar power plant is due to launch later this year. Nearby, glitzy Dubai is mulling the purchase of solar from panels installed on the city’s office buildings and houses. With nearby Qatar investing in everything from solar to smart grid technologies and even Saudi Arabia building LEED-certified projects, the future of green technology and renewable energy in the Middle East, quite counterintuitively considering the importance of the region’s oil and gas sector, is still bright.
Leon Kaye, based in California and who has recently returned from the Middle East, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business. You can follow him on Twitter.
Photo courtesy Wikipedia (Tumbenhaur).