The National Committee aims to promote sustainable energy development in the UAE, as a part of the World Energy Council’s energy vision. As a member of the World Energy Council network, the organisation is committed to representing the national perspective of the UAE within national, regional and global energy debates. The committee includes a variety of members to ensure that the diverse energy interests of the UAE are appropriately represented. Members of the committee are invited to attend high-level events, participate in energy-focused study groups, contribute to technical research and be a part of the global energy dialogue.
In March of 2013, H E Al Mazrouei was appointed the Minister of Energy for the United Arab Emirates. Prior to this he was Deputy CEO and Executive Vice President of Mubadala Petroleum, responsible for new business for upstream Oil & Gas development in the MENA region and the eastern hemisphere. H E Al Mazrouei joined Mubadala Petroleum in 2007. During his tenure he contributed to the expansion of Mubadala’s portfolio assets in Bahrain, Oman and Kazakhstan. In addition to being a member of the UAE’s Supreme Petroleum Council Advisory & Audit Committee, H E Al Mazrouei represents Mubadala as a Board member in a number of key companies, such as Dolphin Energy, Tatweer Petroleum and Pearl Energy. H.E. is also a Board member of a publicly listed company, Surouh Real Estate PJSC in Abu Dhabi. H E Al Mazrouei began his career in 1996 with a BSc in Petroleum Engineering from Tulsa University, USA. After his graduation, he joined Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) as a manager of production and facilities engineering for all offshore operators in Abu Dhabi.
Energy in United Arab Emirates
Oil and gas have historically been the dominant sources fuelling the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) economy. In 2012, the sector contributed to nearly 40% of the UAE’s GDP. However, over the last few years, that has decreased making up only 19% in 2016. Sustainability is a critical component of federal and emirate-level plans in the UAE. Innovation and sustainability are given significant importance and play a role in tying the country’s future to the vision of its leaders. The UAE Vision 2021 has set indicators to measure non-oil GDP and the share of clean energy in the country on an annual basis. In January 2019, the UAE leadership launched the National Expert Programme to develop a diverse base of national cadres and consultants who will help advance the UAE development progress.
The UAE was the first in the region to pursue steps toward energy diversification, introducing the country’s first unified national strategy in 2017 called the Energy Strategy 2050. The plan aims to deliver clean and affordable energy to decrease carbon emissions, maximize energy productivity to stimulate further economic growth. While economic diversification is underway, the UAE economy is sensitive to commodity prices. The transition of the economy resulted in embracing innovative technology which brings uncertainty. The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 sets an ambitious target for renewable energy technologies and the onset of cheap and affordable electric storage and electrification of the transport sector will be essential to achieve the same.
The top uncertainty for the sector is how IoT/Blockchain technologies will revolutionise the traditional energy sector. The supporting regulatory framework, which is to be developed, will decide if this challenge can be turned into an opportunity. The recent restructuring of the federal government of the UAE addressed this concern through the appointment of a Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.
While economic growth and diversification is a priority for the UAE, there is still a dependence on the oil rents to power economic development. Therefore, commodity prices continue to be an uncertainty that requires attention in the planning processes including the energy sector.
The integration and dispatch of must-run plants, especially renewable energy and nuclear power plants are also an important challenge. As the share of intermittent renewable energy technologies increases in the generation mix, power systems will be exposed to greater levels of uncertainty, variability and risk. Therefore, the uncertainty around electric storage prices will change the modus operandi for the sector.
The country’s energy consumption has slowed in recent years compared to the jumps in 2014 and 2015, but demand continues to increase in line with population and economic growth. Along with the 50% target for clean energy by 2050 the demand side improvement of 40% was also set in 2017. There are individual Emirate level demand side management strategies as well as the latest Demand Side Management program under development on the federal level to implement the set target. In the Emirate of Dubai there are efforts underway to explore digitalisation and the use of blockchain technology through the Dubai Blockchain strategy which aims to make Dubai the first city fully powered by blockchain by 2020.
Renewable energies continue to be a priority area and large-scale plants are based on the build-ownoperate model using project finance based on long term take off agreements. The 350MW of PV in Sweihan Abu Dhabi has an LCOE of 2.42 US$ cents/kWh by a Jingo Solar and Marubeni Corporation consortium. There is also focus on exploiting the potential for rooftop solar in the UAE. The Emirate of Dubai launched their rooftop solar net metering program Shams Dubai. There are also several applications such as the rooftop solar calculator Shuaa was launched at the federal level to promote the uptake of the technology.
The design of sustainable cities is also an action area on which the UAE has been focusing. The Sustainable City in Dubai is a residential and mixed-use development located in Dubailand. Covering 46 hectares (5 million square feet), the development applies sustainability principles to achieve social, economic and environmental outcomes. Completed in 2016, Phase 1 of the development has become an international case study for sustainable living, work, education, and wellness, and aims to become the first operational Net-Zero Energy development in the region. Additionally, Dubai is among the cities part of the C40 initiative.
The energy-water nexus continues to be part the energy agenda and efforts to reduce the consumption and decouple from the fossil fuel-based cogeneration and more towards reverse osmosis. This will be complementary to the higher uptake of renewables in the country. The peaceful nuclear program in the UAE has become a benchmark for the world in terms of the public acceptance. Nuclear energy is defined as clean energy in the UAE context and will be 6% of the total installed capacity by 2050.
The uncertainties raised by the sector in the UAE are reflective of the narrative around the future of the energy systems. Renewable energy coupled with energy efficiency and electrification of the end users is the area of focus for the policy makers in the country. The layering of information technology onto the energy sector results in new challenges and opportunities. Similar to the energy leaders around the world, commodity prices are of concern for long term planning.