UAE’s clean energy capacity on track to reach 14 gigawatts by 2030

The country is exploring the potential of clean hydrogen amid net zero targets

Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, at the RAK Energy Summit on Wednesday. Antonie Robertson / The National
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The UAE’s clean energy capacity is “on track” to reach 14 gigawatts by 2030 as a result of new initiatives and projects, according to the country’s minister of Climate Change and Environment.

The UAE is “home to the three largest-in-capacity, lowest-in-cost solar parks in the world” and is the “first country to have a carbon capture utilisation and storage facility, which is right now at a capacity of 800,000 tonnes per annum and is being expanded to five million tonnes per annum", Mariam Almheiri said at the RAK Energy Summit on Wednesday.

The Arab world’s second largest economy has also launched the 5,600 megawatts Barakah nuclear energy plant, where the third reactor went online recently. Once fully operational, it will supply up to 25 per cent of the country's electricity needs from a carbon-free source and support the reduction of up to 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, she said.

This is equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars from the road per year, Ms Almheiri said.

The UAE is investing Dh600 billion ($163.5bn) in clean and renewable energy projects over the next three decades as it aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It is building the world’s largest solar plant in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi with a capacity of 2 gigawatts, as well as the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai with a 5 gigawatt capacity.

Ms Almheiri also said the country is “exploring the potential of clean hydrogen … hydrogen is one of the future fuels that we are looking at”.

The UAE, Opec’s third-biggest producer, has an ambitious hydrogen strategy and aims to capture about 25 per cent of the global hydrogen market. It is in discussions with many countries to export it, according to Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Al Mazrouei.

In a separate panel discussion, Fawaz Al Muharrami, acting executive director of clean energy at Masdar, said hydrogen development is “much more economical today” compared with 10 years ago and the company is moving ahead with new projects.

“We have already established a base through our hydrogen demonstration plant and we are willing to take that to a large commercial scale project,” Mr Al Muharrami said.

“We have signed ... [preliminary agreements] with a number of partners, there are plans in the UAE as well as internationally. We are very bullish on our plans.”

In April, Masdar and Hassan Allam Utilities signed two preliminary agreements with Egyptian state-backed organisations to co-operate on the development of green hydrogen production plants in the Suez Canal Economic Zone and the Mediterranean coast.

“We are going to show that this is more economical to do and we are very much set on our strategies and targets with green hydrogen implementation,” he said.

Green hydrogen is derived from renewable sources, while blue and grey hydrogen are produced from natural gas.

Hydrogen is projected to account for 12 per cent of global energy use and 10 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions reductions by 2050, driven by climate change urgency and countries’ commitments to net zero, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Updated: October 05, 2022, 10:52 AM