In the wake of United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s weekend visit to the U.A.E., His Excellency Yousif Ahmed Al Ali, Assistant Undersecretary for Electricity, Water, and Future Energy at the U.A.E. Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, underscored the U.A.E.’s commitment to ”working on all fronts to reduce its carbon footprint” during a Business Council webinar on 6 April 2021. A video of the webinar, which was part of the Council’s special focus on Climate Change and its new Climate Change Task Force, can be found here.
In a conversation moderated by Mr. Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, His Excellency gave an overview of the U.A.E.’s alternative and renewable energy journey, noting that 20% of the U.A.E.’s electricity is currently derived from clean sources, with a goal to increase this figure to at least 50% by 2050. To help achieve this, His Excellency invited U.S. partners to join in and invest in the U.A.E.’s power sector, which is among the largest in the region. Having long played a leading role in the global energy market, the U.A.E. is well positioned, according to His Excellency, to adapt to changes in the market, which are increasingly pointing to an emphasis globally on renewable and alternative energy.
As a part of its overall energy strategy, His Excellency also highlighted the U.A.E.’s robust energy demand management efforts, wherein the U.A.E. strives to reduce the use of electricity and water by 40% and 50% respectively. Moreover, His Excellency discussed a forthcoming nationwide “Green Code” in the U.A.E., with the aim of reducing water use and consumption nationally, and adapting existing buildings to new green standards. He noted that this green code would serve as a “minimum federal requirement” and that many individual emirates may hold themselves to an even higher standard, requiring even more stringent green measures.
His Excellency also detailed important U.A.E. initiatives related to waste-to-energy, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen. As for hydrogen, His Excellency remarked that the U.A.E. has “all the requirements to be a leading producer of hydrogen when the right time comes.”
His Excellency stressed the ample opportunity for businesses to become involved with the U.A.E.’s renewable and alternative energy projects, including in the areas of nuclear, solar, and hydrogen. He noted that the U.A.E.’s energy strategy was guided by the principles of security, environment, and cost. The U.A.E. welcomes whichever sources of energy can best fulfill these principles, and push them forward on their overall energy strategy.
His Excellency remarked that the U.A.E. is looking to leverage its longstanding leadership role in renewable energy and sustainability to further develop its domestic human capital, as well as attract talent from around the world. He spoke of the importance of the Masdar Institute (now part of Khalifa University), and its partnership with MIT, in both attracting and developing talent in the U.A.E. over the last decade. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is also headquartered in Abu Dhabi, solidifying the U.A.E. as both a regional leader and a global partner in renewable and alternative energy.
Looking forward, His Excellency expressed a desire to see more U.S. companies become involved in the U.A.E.’s renewable and alternative energy journey, to help push forward the country’s ambitious energy strategy. Moreover, he welcomed the prospect of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council supporting this opportunity with future trade delegations.
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