Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which consists of seven emirates (Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain). The UAE has the world’s seventh largest oil and natural gas reserves and an ambitious green energy program. As a result, renewable and sustainable energy has become a major business and environmental investment opportunity.
The UAE has the largest per capita carbon footprint in the world and the state is taking steps to address this. The UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda highlights how sustainable development is essential for social and economic progress, focusing on improving air quality, preserving water resources, decreasing solid waste and implementing a green growth plan.
The government has introduced a number of ambitious initiatives to generate clean energy and wants clean energy to make up 30% of its total energy mix by 2030. The nation wants to be an international role model, with the creation of Masdar, the world’s first carbon-neutral zero waste city - where IRENA (The International Renewable Energy Agency) is headquartered.
Renewables are key to the economic future of the UAE – and more widely the GCC – because oil and gas that is not burnt to generate electricity can be sold or converted into value-adding products, thereby increasing GDP.
Solar power is an extremely promising renewable energy source. In the UAE, solar power has the potential to supply significant amounts of electricity. Introducing solar energy could generate annual savings of USD1.9 billion by 2030.
The UAE boasts yearlong sunshine but dust and sand are a problem as they quickly cover solar panels.
With oil prices predicted to remain low, the differentials between electricity generated by burning oil or natural gas and electricity generated through photovoltaic or solar panels make investing on purely economic terms unattractive.
Countries serious about creating a truly diverse and sustainable energy production mix should consider investment models which subsidise large-scale renewable-energy infrastructure projects.
The UAE is determined that clean energy production will work. Sustainability drivers include energy efficiency, compliance with regulatory and corporate social responsibility policies, waste and water management, and emissions reductions. These measures are already showing results. The 2015 KPMG Lower Gulf Sustainability Report showed that many companies in the UAE are already aligning their strategy with the sustainability agenda outlined in UAE Vision 2021.
Harnessing the full potential of green energy will require skilled employees. Locally driven innovation and expertise will enhance and strengthen the UAE’s energy sector at all levels.
Masdar sponsored Solar Impulse, the first round-the-world, solar powered flight to showcase how clean energies can contribute to a sustainable global economy.
Sustainability is an integral part of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s vision and mission. DEWA has more than 700,000 customers in the UAE and they are utilising their extensive infrastructure and network to complement federal development plans for a sustainable UAE economy.
The sustainability agenda is alive and growing. The UAE is at the forefront. Expo 2020 – with its quantifiable sustainability targets – will become one of the most sustainable cities in the world.
For more information, please contact Andrew Korn.