Inclusion of hydrocarbon industry 'will help world make transition to cleaner energy'

The world cannot simply unplug from the energy system of today, says UAE minister

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and managing director and group chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company speaking during the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Pawan Singh / The National
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The hydrocarbon industry should be included in the energy mix globally even as the world focuses on cutting emissions and protecting the environment, according to the UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and special envoy for climate change.

The “hydrocarbon industry should be included as part of the mix because if we want to successfully transition through the energy system of tomorrow, we can’t simply unplug from the energy system of today and we can’t do this with a flip of a switch”, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who is also managing director and group chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, said during a panel discussion at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Summit on Tuesday.

“We need to take time and we need to consult and engage all those relevant in the consultation and in the discussions,” Dr Al Jaber said.

“We need to make the current system more efficient with less carbon and we should leverage the expertise from across the energy sectors to help find practical and meaningful climate solutions

The UAE announced a net-zero emissions by 2050 strategy in the build up to Cop26, which was held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. In 2023, the Emirates will become the first Gulf Arab nation to host the Cop summit.

“We want Cop 28 to be as inclusive as possible reflecting the views of developed nations alongside developing countries, also reflecting public and private sector views, scientists and civil society.”

The region can play a critical role in ensuring reliable supplies of “the least intensive oil and gas and we can make sure that this is available to the market where it is needed”, Dr Al Jaber said.

“We are of course leveraging this position to drive down the carbon intensity through many initiatives and projects such as carbon capture and storage. We are also investing our capabilities in hydrogen, both blue and green.”

One of the lightest and most abundant elements in the universe, hydrogen is being prioritised around the world as a viable alternative fuel.

Blue and grey hydrogen are produced using natural gas while green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy sources.

The UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, is developing numerous clean energy projects as it aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. It is currently constructing Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the Arab world’s first multi-unit operating nuclear energy plant.

The UAE is also building renewable energy projects to boost the supply of clean energy in the country, including the world’s largest solar plant in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. The 2-gigawatt plant is expected to be fully operational this year.

Dubai is developing the 5-gigawatt Mohammed bin Rashid solar park as part of its strategy to cut emissions.

“We have invested in more than 40 countries and we today already have access to 23 gigawatts of clean, zero carbon emission sources of power that positions us uniquely on the global renewable energy map,” Dr Al Jaber said.

The joining of UAE's energy giants Adnoc and Taqa in Masdar will further in increase the country's clean power generation capacity to 50 gigawatts by 2030, he added.

Taqa is set to take a major stake with a 43 per cent shareholding in Masdar’s renewable energy business with Mubadala retaining a 33 per cent share and Adnoc holding a 24 per cent stake after the completion of the transaction in the coming months.

There are investment opportunities worth at least $3 trillion in the renewable energy space globally over the next 10 years, which will provide an opportunity for the UAE to capitalise on, Dr Al Jaber said.

“In fact, this is the thinking behind our net-zero strategic initiative. We see it as a new economic development opportunity and it is an opportunity that will help us create a new industry, new skills, new jobs, new partnerships and new models of engagement with relevant parties around the world and for us, the business of tackling climate change is simply a good business opportunity.”

Updated: January 18, 2022, 4:52 PM