The total installed capacity of electricity generation in the UAE was 27.2 gigawatts (GW) as of 2012 yet, the demand for electricity and water continues to grow at a fast pace driven by the steep rise in population, an expanding economy and climatic considerations.
To meet this rising demand in a sustainable manner, the UAE is focusing on renewable energy sources, which will minimise the environmental impacts that may arise from traditional sources of energy.
The UAE launched Green Economy Initiative in 2012 under the slogan ‘A green economy for sustainable development’ aiming to make the UAE one of the global pioneers in green economy, products and technologies, and maintain a long term sustainable environment to achieve Vision 2021.
In addition, the UAE is looking to increase its target for power generation from clean energy to 30 per cent by 2030. It also aims to produce 25 to 30 per cent of its electricity requirement from both nuclear and solar energy.
Rapid economic and demographic growth over the past decade pushed the UAE's electricity grid to its limits. Installed fossil fuel generating capacity, which accounts for nearly all of the UAE's capacity continues to rise, reaching more than 27 gigawatts (GW) in 2013, according to Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority. State-led entities manage the domestic electricity grid in each of the seven emirates, but the UAE is making progress toward integrating the emirates into a more efficient national grid.
The Emirates National Grid project aims to interconnect the four authorities that are responsible for supplying power throughout the emirates:
One of the main advantages of the ENG project is the financial savings as a result of the reduction in installed reserve capacity on each of the individual utility systems. It also enables the commercial transfer of electricity between the power authorities.
The ENG interconnected system also provides a stronger capacity to withstand major or sudden disturbances, such as the loss of production units and failure of grid elements, whether due to outages or natural catastrophes, as well as several types of crises.
Contributing to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Interconnection Grid
The UAE’s ENG project coincides with the development of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Interconnection Grid that will link Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE under one regional grid.
The UAE contributed AED 800 million to the AED 5.1-billion project to build regional power grid, which is expected to save the participating countries up to AED 18.4 billion (USD 5 billion) in electricity costs over its lifetime and will lay the foundation for a common GCC energy market.
UAE contributions globally
Abu Dhabi’s Masdar has two global ventures; Masdar Clean Tech Fund and DB Masdar Clean Tech Fund. The funds are focused on building portfolios in some of the world’s most promising and pioneering companies in clean technology and renewable energy.
Masdar Special Projects focuses on small and medium-sized applications in often challenging conditions and geographies. It has delivered 14 projects in 5 countries and has 13 ongoing projects across 9 different countries.
Hosting IRENA’s regional office
Abu Dhabi hosts International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) since 2009, which is the first inter-governmental organisation to have its headquarters in the Middle East.
IRENA is an inter-governmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.
IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bio-energy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy, in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity. Abu Dhabi Government has set a target that by 2020 at least 7 per cent of power generation should be from renewable energy.
At the federal level
In 2010, the UAE Cabinet approved the Green Building and Sustainable Building standards to be applied across the country. Application of these standards started at government buildings early 2011. The project is expected to save AED 10 billion by 2030 and reduce around 30 per cent of carbon emissions.
In July 2014, Ministry of Energy established a new department for energy conservation and energy efficiency. One of the goals of this department is to establish a database of energy consumption by different sectors across the UAE, which allows comparisons between performance of establishments within a sector.
Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) promotes the use of efficient electrical equipment. In 2012, it launched an efficiency-labelling scheme for window and split-unit air-conditioning systems, eliminating highly inefficient units from the market. Since July 2014, ESMA has also banned the import of inefficient incandescent light bulbs. The scheme is expected to cut energy use by 500MW per year.
The decision corresponds to the UAE’s efforts to ensure sustainable development while preserving the environment, achieve a balance between economic and social development and to provide high quality of life for future generations.
In case of any violations, a complaint can be submitted to Ministry of Energy via the dedicated number 056-5467942 and the email id email@example.com.
In Abu Dhabi
Regulation and Supervision Bureau works actively with residents to reduce electricity and water consumption and demand.
Emirates Energy Star (EES) is a joint venture between Etisalat and Pacific Controls to reduce the GHG emissions of the UAE and the fuel bills of its companies, by retrofitting existing buildings with energy saving controls systems and achieving savings of 10-35 per cent.
The programme is now working successfully with all types of legacy systems, ranging from buildings with or without building management system (BMS), facilities with chilled water systems and those with package units. Depending on the depth of the installed asset base, the programme is tailored to suit the financial aspirations of the building owner.
Estidama, which is the Arabic word for sustainability, is an initiative developed and promoted by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC). Through Estidama, Abu Dhabi is progressing the principles and imperatives for sustainable development, while recognising the unique cultural, climatic and economic development needs of the region.
H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, issued a resolution to implement green building specifications and standards in new buildings. In 2014, the building code became mandatory for all new buildings in the emirate.
Wetex is a global platform organised by DEWA in Dubai. It brings national and international companies closer to the latest technology and resource management solutions. The exhibition presents all latest developments in the water, energy, technology and environment sectors.
In the demand side management, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) set a governance framework to streamline existing energy practices across the DSCE entities to optimise synergy and energy efficiency. The council identified policies and regulations to steer demand side management in the emirate in three areas: power, water and transportation fuel.
In addition, the Government of Dubai established Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) in 2009, which oversees all aspects of energy in the emirate and developed Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 to drive energy decarbonisation and ensure efficient use of energy.
In January 2015, Dubai announced a revision of its targets for the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix to 7 per cent by 2020 and 15 per cent by 2030.
Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) created a unit called Conservation Department with a target to conserve electricity, water and gas.
In addition, SEWA started efforts towards creating one of the best model cities of power conservation with an ambitious strategy and creative initiatives for energy conservation. In 2015, Sharjah has been declared as the City of Conservation in the region for the next two years to achieve sustainable development in the emirate. The initiative focuses on the implementation of energy efficiency, with a target of 30 per cent reduction in the consumption of power and water in the emirate of Sharjah.
Green Building committee in Ajman Municipality and Planning Department was formed to support energy conservation efforts.
Read more about the sustainable development goal ‘Affordable and clean energy’.
Proportion of population with access to electricity (2012)