United Arab Emirates

Highlights in 2020
Highlights in 2020

Update on clean energy innovation policies and strategies

Energy Strategy 2050: In 2017, the UAE launched ‘Energy Strategy 2050’, which is considered the first unified energy strategy in the country that is based on supply and demand. The strategy aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix 50% by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70%. It also seeks to increase consumption efficiency of individuals and corporates by 40%.

The national DSM program has been developed with the target of 40% reduction in energy and 50% reduction in water over business as usual by 2050. Significantly the proposed DSM program balances between the needs of each Emirate, with the requirement of consistency and alignment to support lower costs, investment, and sustainability.

The proposed DSM program targets four key areas of focus – “pillars”- as having the greatest potential for impact:

  1. Agriculture – Paradigm shift from unsustainable abstraction of groundwater to sustainable management of groundwater, by balancing water and food security requirements, promoting efficient irrigation, and using alternative water resources.
  2. Built Environment – Optimizing energy and water efficiency within the urban environment through increased phasing in of green building, retrofitting existing building stock, replacing fixtures and equipment and improving public and private irrigation practices.
  3. Industry – Fostering responsibility and accountability within industry through regulatory and transparency requirements to encourage efficiency, sustainability and implementation of best practice to drive energy efficiency.
  4. Transport – It is noted that the Transport Element may be held from implementation pending alignment with the forthcoming UAE Transport Strategy due to be released in 2019.

National Climate Change Plan 2050: National Climate Change Plan of the UAE 2017–2050 is the UAE’s comprehensive framework to address the causes and impacts of climate change, plan the transition into a climate resilient green economy and achieve a better quality of life. The primary objectives of the Climate Plan are to: manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while sustaining economic growth, minimise risks and improve capacity of adaptation to climate change, and enhance the UAE’s economic diversification agenda through innovative solutions.

National Strategy for Advanced Innovation: In February 2018, the UAE government approved the National Strategy for Advanced Innovation. The new strategy is the updated version of the National Innovation Strategy and marks a new phase that is based on enabling people to shift from focusing on vital sectors to the goals and outcomes in seven areas: exploration, future skills, quality of health, living and life, green power, transport, harnessing technology to serve humankind.

The innovation strategy aims to position the UAE among the world’s top leaders of innovation and to develop a type of thinking that encourages experimentation and taking well-thought-out risks to achieve the goals of UAE Centennial 2071.

National Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031: In April 2018, the UAE government launched the National Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031 and the 2021 Advanced Science Strategy, which falls under the Agenda 2031. The 2031 Agenda aims to utilize advanced sciences in the development and creation of solutions to future challenges and support the government’s efforts to achieve the objectives of Vision 2021 and Centennial Plan 2071 through three consecutive strategies starting with 2021 Advanced Science Strategy. The 2031 Agenda sets out eight scientific priorities up to 2031 and 30 scientific targets up to 2021. The eight scientific priorities aim to make the most of all strategic natural resources in the country through: national capacity-building, promoting the sustainable energy sector, enhancing water security using advanced and clean technology, developing advanced scientific food security system, addressing health challenges in the UAE through a national scientific system, developing advanced industries sector, building a system of logistical support based on scientific studies and data, creating a strategic industries complex.

The new strategy from the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology ”Operation 300billion”, seeks to fortify the nation’s well-established industries like petrochemicals, metals and advanced machinery and equipment, while stimulating new levels of productivity and performance in strategic sectors like healthcare and food security. The Strategy will pay special focus on unleashing a wave of locally driven future industries such as space, medical technologies, and hydrogen. The strategy aims to more than double the industrial sector’s GDP contribution to AED300 billion by 2031 and elevate the UAE’s status to a global hub of unrivalled industrial expertise.

Major innovation initiatives and programmes in 2020/21

The UAE government and XPRIZE will invest $81 million towards research and development of new technologies as part of the Ghadan 21 programme. The programme will direct $13.6 billion to accelerate the Abu Dhabi economy through digital technologies, new business models and partnerships with local, regional and international players in various industries. The $81 million Ghadan investment will be directed towards research and development of solutions to address water scarcity, energy efficiency, food security, artificial intelligence, human ageing, and environmental conservation.

In 2017, Abu Dhabi fund Mubadala announced plans for its Aerospace, Renewables & ICT platform to invest a further AED82.5 million ($22.4 million) in research and development (R&D) over the next five years.

Solar Decathlon Middle East is a collegiate competition of 10 contests that challenge students to design and build solar-powered houses. On June 17, 2015, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, and the U.S. Department of Energy signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of Solar Decathlon Middle East (SDME 2018-2020), a competition that will integrate unique local and regional characteristics. In 2018, 18 university teams from 16 countries competing at Solar Decathlon.

In 2014, DEWA launched the R&D Centre in Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which focuses on four key operations: producing electricity using solar energy, integration of smart grids, energy efficiency, and water. 500 AED million is being dedicated towards the R&D and the Centre will be ready in 2020.

From its inception in 1971 up to December 2018, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the leading national entity for international development aid, has financed hundreds of development projects in the renewable energy sector around the world worth AED4.4 billion (US$1.187 billion). Driving the objectives of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), these projects have contributed to the production of about 2,584 MW of renewable energy in different countries. Since 1974, ADFD has contributed to financing about AED2.7 billion (US$737 million) in renewable energy projects through joint financing agreements with the governments of many developing countries. The remaining funds were allocated through innovative and strategic partnerships including the seven-cycle AED1.285 billion (US$350 million) IRENA/ADFD Project Facility, the AED183.4 million (US$50 million) UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF), as well as the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund (UAE-PPF) valued at AED183.4 million (US$50 million). In addition to supporting sustainable development in key socio-economic sectors, ADFD has funded important renewable energy projects. Notable projects include:

Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Complex in Jordan

In line with the Jordanian government’s objective of generating 20 per cent of energy from renewables by early-2020, ADFD contributed AED550 million (US$150 million) to funding the Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Complex. The project involved the installation of 328,320 photovoltaic panels that will produce 227 GWh of solar power annually over a period of 20 years, enough to illuminate about 50,000 homes.

Project works included the provision of electrical switches, a medium voltage and signal cable system, transformers and all required equipment to connect the plant to the national power grid. The support also covered civil construction works, roads and safety systems as well as overall project operation and management.

The plant contributed to the creation of about 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and is set to provide 30 permanent jobs for its sustained operation and maintenance.

Upper Atbara and Setit Dam Complex in Sudan

ADFD allocated a US$90 million concessionary loan and contributed to the construction of the Upper Atbara and Setit Dam Complex in Eastern Sudan. With a storage capacity of 2.7 billion cubic metres of water, the twin dams provide the hydroelectric power plant with enough power to generate 320 megawatts of electricity.

Merowe Dam in Sudan

ADFD provided AED735 million for the construction of the Merowe Dam in north Sudan. One of the largest hydropower projects in Africa and the second major hydropower project in Sudan, this strategic project helps the country fill its power deficit by producing electricity totalling 1,250 megawatts – benefitting more than 30 million people.

Located nearly 350 km north of the capital Khartoum, the dam is about 1.1 km across the river and is 9 km long and 60 metres tall. The project included all the necessary civil works including the power plant to accommodate 10 generators, each with a capacity of 125 megawatts, and the electromechanical works. The works also comprised the transmission lines and connectivity to the national grid.

Waste-to-energy facility in the emirate of Sharjah

ADFD allocated an AED121 million (US$33 million) concessionary loan for the development of a waste-to-energy facility in the emirate of Sharjah.

Expected to treat more than 300,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) each year, or 37.5 tonnes per hour, the plant will have the capacity to generate around 30 megawatts of energy. Due for completion by early 2021, the facility aims to help attain Sharjah’s zero-waste-to-landfill target and the UAE’s objective of diverting 75 per cent of its municipal solid waste from landfills by 2021.

Producing electricity using wind power in Seychelles

In the Republic of Seychelles, ADFD allocated AED103 million (US$28 million) to produce clean electricity using wind turbine technology.

Known for being costly to operate and maintain as well as harmful to the environment, diesel-powered electrical power plants were replaced with wind power. This project included the supply, installation and activation of wind turbine farms for electric power generation in several different areas of the island of Mahé.

Eight farms were built to generate between 4 to 6 MW of electrical power. The project also included maintenance and the development of the transmission network, as well as technical services for the studies of wind power and project management.

IRENA/ADFD Project Facility

In 2013, ADFD committed US$350 million over seven funding cycles for the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility. After the announcement of the sixth funding cycle in January 2019, the cumulative funding to date is US$245 million. The Facility helps developing countries access low-cost capital for renewable energy projects to increase energy access, improve livelihoods and advance sustainable development.

Since the selection of projects for the first cycle in 2014, ADFD’s funding has benefitted 24 renewable energy projects in 23 countries, covering up to 50 per cent of the total project costs. They will bring more than 157 megawatts of renewable energy capacity online and create electricity access for over seven million people, significantly improving their livelihoods. Spanning Asia, Africa, Latin America and Small Island Developing States, the projects encompass a broad spectrum of renewable energy sources – wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and biomass – and technologies.

In 2019, the sixth cycle of this Project Facility has approved projects worth $31 Million USD with the following projects:

In Guyana, a project will receive a loan of US$8 million to install 5.2 megawatt (MW) grid-connected solar PV systems in the hinterland regions to reduce fossil fuel consumption and increase the reliability of electricity supply. An estimated 34,700 people in the target areas will benefit and around 120 direct and indirect jobs are set to be created throughout the project lifecycle.

In Liberia, the loan of US$8 million will contribute to the construction of a 2.1 MW run-of-river hydropower plant on the Gee River. The project will benefit over 30,000 people through providing a clean, reliable and affordable source of energy to households, schools, health facilities and small businesses, enhancing living conditions and helping to reduce poverty.

In Togo, a 30 MW grid-connected solar PV plant will be constructed with the investment of a US$15 million loan. The project aims to bring clean, reliable power to around 700,000 households and small businesses and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 9,242 tonnes/year. Local communities will benefit from greater access to drinking water, education and healthcare as well as job creation that prioritises women.

UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF)

Launched at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017, UAE-CREF aims to deploy renewable energy projects with a capacity of 11 MW in 16 Caribbean countries to help reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports, stimulate economic activity and enhance climate change resilience. The fund is also a testament to the UAE’s efforts to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

At Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2019, the third cycle of the US$50 million UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (CREF), was allocated to projects delivered in Jamaica, Cuba, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago.

UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund (UAE-PPF)

ADFD earmarked US$50 million in funding to the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund (UAE-PPF), a pillar of the UAE’s wider strategy to support sustainable development projects around the globe through the deployment of renewable energy, with the supervision of the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Masdar was appointed to develop and implement renewable energy projects in 11 countries under UAE-PPF.

The first cycle of UAE-PPF funding enabled the completion of small-scale solar and wind power projects in Kiribati, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The project deliverables included cyclone-proof wind turbines and space-optimising solar power solutions. In some cases, the installed projects met as much as 50% of local power requirements.

In May 2016, phase 2 of UAE-PPF supported the delivery of renewable energy projects in the Solomon Islands, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia – with a combined power generating capacity of 3.25 megawatts, displacing more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and reducing diesel imports by as much as 1.5 million litres per year.

In 2019, the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Declaration (the Declaration) was signed by 25 public and private sector entities at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum (ADSFF) on 16 January as a united front to foster positive economic, social and environmental impacts and advocate sustainable finance and investments for the long-term well-being and growth of the country’s economy.

UAE is host to the world’s largest battery bank in Abu Dhabi, with a capacity of 108 megawatts distributed over 10 sites across the emirate. We believe storage has tremendous potential in the long term.

In 2019, DEWA launched its first Smart Grid Station (SGS) which comprises a 200-kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic solar power production system; a 9-kilowatt (kW) wind turbine; and a 500-kilowatt hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery energy storage system, which stores energy for later use. The station also includes over 2,000 sensors based on the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, and smart meters distributed throughout the facility to monitor power and water demand data in real-time for the purpose of improved energy and water management, with the potential to reduce demand when required by eliminating non-critical loads through smart lighting, smart power outlets, and smart air conditioning system.

Masdar and Beeah launched the Bee’ah Waste Management Center in Sharjah, the new plant will process more than 37.5 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) per hour to generate electricity sustainably. Once operational, it will contribute significantly to reaching the UAE’s target of diverting 75 per cent of its solid waste from landfills by 2021, as well as Sharjah’s zero-waste-to-landfill goal.

The Dubai Centre for Waste Processing, located in the Warsan area, will treat 5,666 tonnes of municipal solid waste produced by Dubai per day. A total of 1,900,000 tonnes of waste per year will be converted into renewable energy. The approximate 200 MW of electricity generated will be fed into the local grid as clean energy. The facility will have the capacity to process up to 45 per cent of Dubai’s current municipal waste generation, significantly minimising the volume of municipal waste in landfills.

Emirates Water and Electricity Co. and Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center (Tadweer) have launched a competitive tender for the development of a greenfield waste-to-energy independent power project (IPP). The plant will be located near the existing Al Dhafra landfill in Abu Dhabi, will have an expected processing capacity of between 600,000 and 900,000 mt/year of waste. Under this plan, it will generate enough electricity to power up to 22,500 households in the UAE, which would make it one of the largest waste-to-energy facilities in the region.

The Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic (PV) facility is located about 35 kilometers from Abu Dhabi city, and will supply power to Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC). Once operational, it will be the world’s largest single-site solar power plant, using approximately 4 million solar panels to generate enough electricity for approximately 160,000 homes across the UAE. The plant will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2.4 million metric tonnes annually – equivalent to taking out 470,000 cars from the roads.

On its completion, the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, that Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is building, will have the largest energy storage capacity in the world of 15 hours, allowing for energy availability around the clock. This phase will provide clean energy for 320,000 residences and will reduce 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year. The 950MW 4th phase is the largest investment project in the world that combines Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and photovoltaic solar power with investments totalling AED15.78 billion based on the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model. It uses three hybrid technologies to produce clean energy: 600MW from a parabolic basin complex (three units of 200MW each), 100MW from a solar power tower (based on Molten Salt technology), and 250MW from photovoltaic solar panels.

The UAE is pursuing a peaceful nuclear energy program that upholds the highest standards of nuclear safety, security, operational transparency and non-proliferation. Once all four units of the plant are commercially operating, the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant will produce up to 25 percent of the country’s electricity requirements while in parallel preventing the release of 21 million tons of carbon emissions each year (this is equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars off the roads annually). The 1400 MW Unit 1 is now providing constant, reliable, and sustainable electricity.

The UAE’s disbursement to SDG 7 was AED 3.06 billion (USD 832.9 million) towards this cause – expanding renewable energy and increasing electrification.

Private sector engagement in 2020/21

As co-leads of the Affordable Heating and Cooling in buildings Challenge along with the United Kingdom and the European Commission, the UAE is proud of the progress of this challenge which comes as a result of the efforts of the co-leading countries as well as India, Sweden and Australia, who have provided substantial support along with the member countries that have actively participated.

The UAE is pleased to have hosted the first workshop for IC7 which was held in November last year in its capital, Abu Dhabi. This IC7 workshop brought together 70 international experts from 13 countries to discuss the priority areas in Heating and Cooling and develop ideas and actions moving forward. The workshop provided the necessary platform for experts to discuss ideas for technological advancements and resulted in innovative ideas and research actions that aim for the development of commercially viable solutions.

The UAE is championing one of the main priority areas under IC7; Alternative Heat Sinks and Sources.

A conference call was hosted by the UAE in April 2019 to discuss progress and actions moving forward with different member countries.

Public sector RD&D investment