More power to the UAE

UAE's new energy strategy is set to save up to Dh700 billion by 2050

United Arab Emirates, January 7, 2018

The UAE needs to invest at least $35 billion in energy to meet the 17GW capacity addition needed over the medium term, says a latest research report.

Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp) said the stringent diversification efforts have already born fruits, with projects to generate at least 10.4GW already under execution. Abu Dhabi's Barakah nuclear-power plant will see four reactors come on line between 2017 and 2020, contributing 5.6GW in total and representing 41 per cent of new capacity between 2017 and 2023.

Gas and coal will represent 21 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, while solar PV (photovoltaic) and CSP (concentrating solar power) projects are expected to account for 20 per cent of the UAE's new capacity, Apicorp's energy report said.

'The UAE's new energy strategy is set to save up to Dh700 billion by 2050,' according to Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy.

The UAE 2050 strategy 'adopts 50 per cent of the sources of power generation as green sources, and the UAE will be one of the first countries in the world in the reduction of consumption and culture of conservation.'

This is also the UAE's first nationwide energy strategy reaching 2050, with previous national energy targets looking to generate 30 per cent of power from clean sources by 2030.

In September 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the world's largest CSP project, costing Dh14.2 billion. The project is part of implementing the fourth stage of the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park and to support the end goals of Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050.

'The UAE has succeeded in building a global green economy model based on the environmental sustainability and clean energy and supported by clear plans. These plans will contribute to strengthening the foundations of such model and developing it according to the world's finest standards so as to make the most of this field and invest in enhancing infrastructure, building capabilities and training competent national competencies,' said Sheikh Mohammad.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), said awarding such strategic projects is in line with Sheikh Mohammad's vision aiming to boosting the sustainability and turning Dubai into a global hub for clean energy and green economy through Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide seven per cent of Dubai's power through clean energy by 2020, 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.

Regionally, GCC countries aim to reach 10 per cent of power production from renewable energy sources by 2020 presenting massive opportunities in the industry.

In order to achieve the goals of the 2050 Energy Strategy, the UAE Ministry of Energy is encouraging the public and private sectors to develop innovative Innovation Policy Platform (IPP) arrangements that are leading to a new wave of large-scale solar projects across the UAE.

Only last year, the UAE achieved a global record with the lowest solar prices achieved through a competitive tendering process. The Ministry of Energy is also engaging the UAE population to generate demand in household solar energy projects across the nation, according to the ministry.

'Solar energy is a key technology that plays a strategic role in the achievement of the UAE 2050 Energy Strategy. To achieve this, the Ministry of Energy is continuously assessing the feasibility of centralised and distributed solar deployment in the United Arab Emirates,' the UAE Ministry of Energy commented.

Propelled by strong economic activity, a rising population, and industrialisation, the UAE has seen rapidly rising electricity consumption at an annual rate of five per cent over the past five years.

With the country's power demand requirements expected to increase at an annual rate of five to six per cent until 2021, the government has placed clean energy at the heart of its energy strategy. Growing reliance on natural gas imports - currently representing almost all power generation - has made energy diversification a national priority, while the country plans to tackle environmental concerns and strives to evolve as a regional leader in clean energy.

The UAE has proven that it possesses some of the best solar resources in the world, while supporting economic and regulatory policies have helped its clean energy programme to excel.

According to Apicorp report, a contributing factor is access to affordable finance. In addition to conventional project financing, the sector is seeing financial innovation to help facilitate and provide the investments required in the long term, including the Dh100 billion Dubai Green Fund, which will support the Shams Dubai initiative, a programme aimed at facilitating the installation of rooftop solar panels.

'There is no doubt that regulatory support, including renewable- energy laws and national targets, has been pivotal in contributing to the expansion of the UAE's renewables sector. Several solar PV and CSP projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai broke world records, with both technologies having received lowest bids recorded globally this year. Further progress is expected as the country is set to reach seven per cent solar energy by 2020 and 25 per cent by 2030 - its interim targets towards the more ambitious goal of 50 per cent by 2050,' said the report.

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