Italy expects green energy exports to UAE to grow over 10 years

The UAE's energy strategy and its push to achieve net-zero goals has opened new avenues of business for Italian companies

Above, the Shams 1 concentrated solar plant in Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafra region. The UAE is home to several large solar power plants. Photo: Mubadala
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Italy, the eurozone's third-largest economy, expects double-digit growth in the value of renewables industry components that Italian companies export to the UAE over the next five to 10 years, driven by the Emirates' push to achieve its net-zero ambitions.

The Arab world's second-largest economy is driving the renewable energy agenda and is investing heavily in increasing the percentage of green energy in its power mix. That momentum is opening new avenues of business for Italian companies, Amedeo Scarpa, Italy’s trade commissioner for the UAE, Oman and Pakistan, told The National in an interview.

“This is a trend for the next five to 10 years,” Mr Scarpa said.

“If we take into consideration the Energy Strategy 2050 of the UAE and the push to increase the contribution of clean energy, I think the margins of growth are there … it will only be a growing trend.”

Italian companies have exported €75 million ($85.7m) in the first six months of 2021, an 11 per cent year-on-year increase from 2020 and 4 per cent rise from the first half of 2019.

Mr Scarpa expects the 2021 full-year export value of Italian renewable energy exports to reach between €120m to €130m.

The renewable energy sector is “quite rigid” and it has not been greatly affected by the pandemic. With the world coming out of the pandemic-driven slowdown, the sector is expected to grow even further, he added.

In October, the UAE announced an ambitious strategic initiative to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and said it plans to spend Dh600 billion ($160bn) on clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades.

The country has long been committed to protecting its environment and embracing clean energy. It began financing clean energy projects more than 15 years ago, and has invested more than $40bn in the sector to date.

In 2017, the UAE launched Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix to 50 per cent by 2050 from 25 per cent. The country plans to reduce its carbon footprint of power generation by 70 per cent and seeks to increase the consumption efficiency of individuals and corporates by 40 per cent by the middle of the century.

The UAE is home to some of the world's biggest renewable energy projects including Noor Abu Dhabi, the world’s biggest single-site solar photovoltaic plant and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai. The country also enjoys the world’s lowest-cost solar power.

“The data is there and opportunities are there,” Mr Scarpa said.

Italy is currently the fourth-largest renewables industry components provider for the UAE.

With more than 400 specialised companies, directly or indirectly employing more than 60,000 employees, the Italian renewables industry has an annual turnover of €23bn. It is the second-biggest green energy industry components producer in Europe and the sixth largest exporter globally, Mr Scarpa said.

Italian companies registered 1,880 green technology trademarks in 2020 alone with the European Patents office. Fifty-five per cent of these patents relate to solar energy and 16 per cent to wind-energy technology, he added.

“It is uniqueness of the Italian industry that 40 per cent of these trademarks have been registered by [Italian] small and medium enterprises,” Mr Scarpa said.

Magaldi Green Energy, Enel Green Power and Italian oil and gas major ENI, which is venturing into renewables and green hydrogen, are among the Italian companies being featured at the World Future Energy Summit – the global showcase of green energy technologies – which is part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

There are 16 companies featured in Italy’s pavilion at the exhibition, but in total 21 green energy companies are participating in the event, Mr Scarpa said.

“We are in a crucial time, especially after Cop26 where all the countries pushed and committed themselves to identify targets of reducing gas emission. WFES is probably the most important trade fair after that politically important event,” Mr Scarpa said.

“This is the right place and the right occasion to show the latest Italian technologies in order to achieve ambitious [net-zero] targets.”

Updated: January 17, 2022, 10:51 AM