In 2017, the United Arab Emirates launched its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’, an ambitious clean energy plan. The plan aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the overall energy mix from 25 to 50% and decrease the carbon footprint of power generation by 70% before 2050. Specifically, this strategy aims for the U.A.E.’s energy mix in 2050 to comprise 44% renewable energy and 6% nuclear energy.
Solar power is an important component of the U.A.E.’s clean energy strategy, and the U.A.E. has pursued a variety of landmark solar energy projects. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is now building a solar park, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, that will have a capacity of 5,000 MW when fully completed in 2030, accounting for 25% of the estimated total energy production of Dubai. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi is home to the world’s largest stand-alone operational solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, the 1.2 GW Noor Abu Dhabi plant. An even bigger plant is under construction.
The Business Council encourages the growth and development of renewable energy sources and related knowledge sectors through support for and participation in key initiatives such as DEWA’s Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) and Masdar’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which includes the World Future Energy Summit and the Zayed Future Energy Prize.
The Business Council also regularly hosts delegations from Masdar and DEWA in the United States and has highlighted opportunities in clean energy through webinars with the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance and the U.A.E. Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.
In line with its support for cooperation in climate change mitigation efforts, the Business Council launched a Climate Change Task Force in February 2021. The Task Force brings together leaders from business, academia and government to create opportunities for better understanding and cooperation in the broadest terms between the U.S. and U.A.E. As part of its task force programming, the Business Council hosted leadership from the Office of the U.A.E. Special Envoy for Climate Change, and the Office of U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
In December 2009, the United Arab Emirates and the United States entered into a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear energy cooperation that significantly enhanced international standards of nonproliferation, safety, and security. Known as the “123 Agreement,” the accord established a required legal framework for commerce in civilian nuclear energy between the two countries. Government leaders and nonproliferation experts consider this agreement to be the “gold standard” in peaceful nuclear cooperation for its commitment to safety, security, and operational transparency.
The development of a civilian nuclear energy sector is part of the U.A.E.’s commitment to diversify energy supply. The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, the U.A.E.’s first nuclear power plant, completed fuel loading into Unit 1 in March 2020, and this unit began commercial operations in April 2021. Once all four nuclear reactors at the U.A.E.’s Barakah Nuclear Power Plant are online, the U.A.E. estimates that the plant will produce nearly a quarter of the country’s electricity requirements.
The Business Council played an instrumental role in building U.S. support for the 123 Agreement and remains committed to supporting the development of the U.A.E.’s civilian nuclear program as it enters its operational phase. Moreover, the Business Council is proud of the role that its members, such as Bechtel and Westinghouse, have played in helping the U.A.E. realize its peaceful nuclear energy ambitions.
In partnership with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the Council led a number of high-level trade delegations to introduce interested U.S. parties to U.A.E. civilian nuclear energy decision-makers at the Emirates Nuclear Energy Cooperation (ENEC) and across the country. During the Council’s first trade mission in 2010, U.S. participants received high-level briefings on the latest updates to the program and insight on the bidding process for secondary contracts and the regulatory environment. The Council and NEI led another trade delegation in December 2015 that gave delegates the opportunity to visit the Barakah Plant.
In January 2020, the Business Council and NEI hosted a luncheon in Washington, D.C. in honor of a visiting delegation from ENEC led by its CEO, Mohamed Al Hammadi and in commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of the 123 Agreement. A subsequent special industry briefing provided the nuclear energy supplier industry with details about future opportunities for U.S. private sector involvement in the next stages of the U.A.E. Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program.