The UAE has launched its first wind programme as it intensifies efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and diversify its energy mix.
Abu Dhabi clean energy company Masdar has developed the 103.5 megawatt landmark wind project across four locations, which includes a 45MW wind farm on Sir Bani Yas Island, the company said on Thursday.
Other wind farm locations include Delma Island (27MW), Al Sila in Abu Dhabi (27MW) and Al Halah in Fujairah, which can produce 4.5MW of electricity.
The project also includes a 14MWp (megawatt peak) solar farm on Sir Bani Yas Island.
The UAE wind programme is expected to power more than 23,000 homes a year, displacing 120,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
That is equivalent to removing more than 26,000 cars from the road annually, the company said.
“The UAE wind programme is a great source of national pride and a demonstration of Masdar’s ability to pioneer and implement innovations in wind and renewable energy technologies,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate and chairman of Masdar.
“For a viable energy transition, the world must triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement goals. As we look forward to hosting Cop28, today’s inauguration shows the UAE’s firm commitment to this target, boosting clean energy investments both at home and abroad,” said Dr Al Jaber, also the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.
Emirates Water and Electricity Company (Ewec) has signed a purchase agreement with Masdar for the power generated from the wind projects.
PowerChina was the main engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the programme and Beijing-based GoldWind Group was the main equipment supplier.
The project marks the first time that the UAE has added utility-scale wind power to its energy mix.
The Emirates, the Arab world's second-largest economy, has been investing heavily in renewable energy projects to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.
The UAE, host of the Cop28 climate conference beginning in November, approved an updated version of the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 and the development of the National Hydrogen Strategy in July.
As part of the plan, the UAE plans to invest up to Dh200 billion ($54 billion) by 2030 to ensure energy demand is met while sustaining economic growth.
Meanwhile, the emirate of Abu Dhabi also announced its Climate Change Strategy for 2023-2027 in July. It aims to reduce emissions by 30 million tonnes by 2027, from 135 million tonnes in 2016.
Some of the major clean energy projects the UAE is developing include the Barakah nuclear plant, a two-gigawatt solar plant in Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafra region, and the five-gigawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.
The Al Dhafra plant is expected to mitigate 2.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, while the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum park will reduce 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year when complete.
“[The] launch of the UAE’s first utility-scale wind programme is the result of years of hard work and collaboration,” said Mohamed Al Ramahi, Masdar's chief executive.
“As we accelerate our path to net zero by 2050, the UAE wind programme shows that anything is possible when you have vision, passion and a pioneering spirit,” he said.
Wind energy was previously unviable in the UAE due to low wind speeds, but innovations in climate technology made the project “scalable and economically viable”, Masdar said.
The initiative benefited from larger turbines, lower hardware prices and the discovery of a unique weather phenomenon that generated high winds at night.
“As wind power is strongest at night in the UAE this complements the country’s existing solar power generation, further diversifying the nation’s renewable energy mix,” the company said.