Multifaceted approach needed for smooth energy transition, UAE minister says

Reducing consumption, diversifying the energy mix quickly and investing more in technology are all required, Suhail Al Mazrouei says

Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, at MEA Energy Week 2022 on Monday. Photo: MEA Energy Week
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A “multifaceted” approach is required for the adoption of sustainable energy resources amid the global energy crisis and the fight against climate change, Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE's Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said on Monday.

While the adoption of green energy is accelerating globally, it is “not happening at the speed we aspire for and it would require us to collaborate more with the government and private sector”, Mr Al Mazrouei said at the MEA Energy Week event organised by Siemens Energy.

“We, in the UAE, believe in the reason for acting on climate change, and we believe on the speed of that action,” he said.

“We need to move in a multifaceted [way]. One is reducing our consumption as a country and as individuals. Second, we need to diversify our energy mix, and diversify quickly towards cleaner forms of energy. We need to invest in technology, and we need to create a business case for hydrogen at a scale that allows transformation to happen.”

The UAE is taking the lead regionally and stepping up efforts to hit its target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 through a wide-ranging green strategy focused on a shift to renewable energy and the adoption of new technology.

The Emirates recorded the largest increase in renewable energy capacity worldwide over the past decade, Australia-based aggregator Compare the Market said in a report last month.

Capacity in the country surged to 2,540 megawatts in 2020, from 13MW in 2011, the report found.

Globally, renewables are expected to drive an 8 per cent increase in energy project investment this year to $2.4 trillion, according to the International Energy Agency.

However, the energy sector is facing several challenges, including high inflation, rising interest rates and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which have affected investment and planning strategies, said Christian Bruch, president and chief executive of Siemens Energy.

“The markets are insecure at the moment. Not every price movement is driven solely by demand and supply; it is also driven a lot by speculation and insecurity,” he said at the event.

“We did not anticipate this or take it seriously. If you take the situation in Ukraine, all of a sudden people really understand that energy security has a consequence.”

Long-term strategic planning in energy infrastructure was not good enough to face a situation where conditions changed substantially, Mr Bruch said.

“We have to confess that all of us did not do a good enough job of doing this, and we have to do this now.”

The situation also highlights the funding gap between nations. Of the 195 signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change, about 130 have signalled net zero ambitions, yet there is inequality when it comes to resources.

“We have an implementation problem, not an identification problem. We cannot say that we want to decarbonise but don’t want to spend money,” Mr Bruch said.

“We also cannot say that we want all countries to decarbonise and not think about how we can get funds from a richer area to a poorer area.”

Updated: June 27, 2022, 10:33 AM