ABU DHABI // Ambitious plans to boost clean energy and slash dependence on natural gas to generate power are at the centre of the UAE’s new energy policy for the next three decades.
The UAE Energy Plan 2050 aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70 per cent, increase clean energy use by 50 per cent and improve energy efficiency by 40 per cent by the middle of the century, resulting in savings worth Dh700 billion.
The policy’s targets for the source of energy for local consumption by 2050 have been set at 44 per cent from renewable energy, 38 per cent from gas, 12 per cent from clean fossil and 6 per cent from nuclear energy. At the moment, more than 90 per cent of UAE’s energy needs are met by natural gas.
“Ensuring the sustainability of energy resources means ensuring the sustainability of the country’s growth,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announcing the plan on Tuesday.
“The government has made an accomplishment in drafting the first unified energy strategy for the UAE covering production and consumption.
“Those who don’t think about energy aren’t thinking about the future.”
The integration of renewable, nuclear and clean fossil energy will be funded with investment of Dh600bn over the next 33 years, equating to an annual spend of more than Dh17bn.
Sheikh Mohammed said the first national energy strategy would ensure a balance between economic needs and environmental targets.
He said the plan would require the participation of all institutions and bodies in the energy sector, and all executive councils.
Despite being one of the top oil producers and exporters, the UAE is also looking to nuclear power to meet its increasing energy demands, with its first nuclear power plant, Barakah, completed this year.
The four-reactor plant will produce 25 per cent of the UAE’s energy needs when it is fully operational.
Sheikh Mohammed also called for a region-wide energy policy. “Gulf countries are similar in terms of economic structure and we hope to have a unified GCC energy strategy to ensure the sustainable development of our peoples and the global strength of our economies.”
This will be supervised by the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said the policy was a great step towards the future for which the UAE strives.
“Our reliance on sustainable energy is a guaranteed step towards a better future for us and for future generations,” he said.
Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and chief executive of Adnoc, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, said the new policy was an important step towards energy security, which was the backbone of all economic and development activity.
“It specifies the energy mix components and includes both clean energy and gas, which is cleaner hydrocarbon fuel, clean coal and peaceful nuclear energy,” Dr Al Jaber said.
Mohammed Atif, the Middle East and Africa regional manager for energy consultancy DNV GL, said the policy was a significant increase on the previously announced targets.
“There were expectations within the industry that specifically, renewable energy targets would increase, but it is quite impressive to see the ambitious approach to energy efficiency as well,” he said.
“We are aware that a number of reforms and implementation plans are either under way or in early stages of execution so we look forward to a bright future.”
This is the UAE’s first nationwide energy strategy reaching 2050, with previous national energy targets looking to generate 30 per cent of power from clean sources by 2030.
However, Dubai set out its own plan two years ago to have clean energy sources make up 75 per cent of the emirate’s energy by 2050.
According to the latest figures from the International Energy Agency in 2014, half of the world’s energy supply came from oil and gas, close to 30 per cent from coal and nuclear at 5 per cent. Renewables – including hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind and heat – accounted for just 3.8 per cent of the total supply.