His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has announced the UAE’s energy strategy for the three decades to come, with the aim to increase the contribution of clean and renewable energy in the total mix to 50 per cent by 2050.
The ambitious strategy highlights the UAE’s forward-looking vision to guarantee sustainable power supplies, a key pillar of the development.
This will significantly help diversify energy sources, cut dependence on oil and gas, diversify sources of income and reduce the correlation between domestic economy and oil revenues, particularly because by 2050, the global energy balance would have radically altered.
But the question arising here is what are the standards and foundations upon which the new approach depends?
In fact, there are many objectives that will strongly underpin the higher contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix.
First of all, the UAE has over the course of the past five years invested more than $50 billion (Dh183.5 billion) in the production of clean and renewable energy, particularly solar and nuclear powered.
This year Abu Dhabi is expected generate electricity from nuclear stations, and Dubai will embark on building the world’s largest solar power plant.
Helping other countries
Second, the existence of the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IREA) headquarters in Abu Dhabi will provide significant opportunities to turn the UAE into a global hub for the development, innovation and research in renewable energy and this is what exactly happening.
The UAE is now constructing solar, wind and river power plants and helping other countries to do so, including ones such as the London Array for power production.
Third, the UAE has in recent years prepared Emirati cadres capable of developing alternative energy sources and innovating new techniques to produce clean energy. This, in itself, is one of the most important foundations of the infrastructure designed to prepare national cadres.
Hundreds of Emiratis have been trained in the field of solar and nuclear energy production and they were introduced to advanced techniques that would contribute to the development of renewable energy sources in line with the UAE vision and strategy 2050.
A fourth point, the availability of raw materials — the sun — in the region throughout the year ensures the sustainability of power supplies needed for the production of renewable energy.
More importantly, there is now a possibility of discovering uranium in commercial quantities in Saudi Arabia and Oman, which will ensure the availability of raw materials needed for the production of those two exporters.
The Emirati approach calls for developing an integrated GCC strategy to boost production of clean and renewable energy based on previous experience — that of the GCC power linkage, which has practically unified production of electricity in the GCC states.
Such an approach entails sizeable investments, which are already in the hands of the UAE and GCC and can be utilised to develop alternative clean and renewable energy sources.
Besides public investments, the local and Gulf private sector can also help to bring about this approach, which is of great importance to the generations to come.
Based on the above points, it is obvious that the UAE’s approach has not come out of blue but is based on robust physical, technical, financial and human resources foundations that will bring it to fruition.
This means the most important pillar of the sustainable development would be achieved.
GCC states can respond to the Emirates call by joining its strategy and make for an approach that could result in achieving substantial gains for all, cutting costs and bolstering the GCC’s stability and development.
Dr Mohammad Al Asoomi is a UAE economic expert and specialist in economic and social development in the UAE and the GCC countries.