Council Report: Renewable and Alternative Energy in the U.A.E.January 9, 2017
Over the past decade, the U.A.E. has not only committed to implementing global climate change agreements, but it has also staked out its own ambitious plans for the introduction of renewable and alternative energy. The U.A.E. was, for instance, the first country in the Middle East to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change. Moreover, it has set an ambitious target for procuring 27% of its total energy from clean sources by 2021.
These commitments are not mere attempts to bolster the U.A.E.’s public image and international standing; rather, they are strategic choices by the U.A.E.’s leadership to promote the well being of the country and its people. After all, by increasing its renewable and alternative energy output, the U.A.E. can help meet its growing demand for power while reducing its dependence on natural gas imports and preserving its lucrative oil exports. At the same time, it can help protect the environment, provide business opportunities for U.A.E. companies, and further diversify its economy.
In keeping with this strategy, the U.A.E. has become home to several world-class institutions in the renewable and alternative energy field. The U.A.E. hosts the global headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). In addition, it is the site of Masdar, which is dedicated to advancing the development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and clean technologies.
With the help of these institutions, the U.A.E. has successfully begun transforming its energy mix. The U.A.E. is building four nuclear reactors that will provide for one-quarter of its electricity needs by 2020. The country has also embarked on massive solar power projects such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which will eventually be the largest solar park in the world. In the process, it has generated several record-low bids for the estimated cost of producing solar electricity.
As it continues to transform its energy mix at home, the U.A.E. is also undertaking renewable energy projects abroad. Masdar, for instance, has made major investments in utility-scale solar power plants throughout the world while also embarking on smaller ventures, often in remote and complex locations such as Pacific Islands. Masdar has also invested heavily in international wind projects, including the Middle East’s first utility-scale wind power project in Jordan.
The U.A.E. has also become the regional epicenter of renewable and alternative energy research and events. For instance, Masdar hosted the Solar Impulse 2 project, which embarked on the first ever round-the-world solar journey. Moreover, the U.A.E. annually hosts both the Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) and Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
Taken as a whole, these developments have presented exciting opportunities for U.S. companies. Large U.S. multinational companies such as Bechtel, CH2M Hill, First Solar, GE, and Westinghouse have all partnered in the aforementioned initiatives. So, too, have SMEs such as SolarOne, startups such as Trevi Systems, and research institutes such as MIT.
The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council would like to thank its partners at Masdar for their collaboration on the publication of this report.Renewable and Alternative Energy in the U.A.E. Back to Resources