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Advancement of Renewable and Sustainable Projects in the UAE

 

With Expo dedicating an entire district to sustainability and how to integrate practical actions towards a “future where we all live in balance with our only home: Planet Earth”, the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) is one of the leading countries in the Gulf Region to promote and implement drastic legislative and procedural changes in regard to achieving environmental conservation and long-term sustainability. In line with the UAE’s Energy Strategy 2050 initiative as well as the United Nations (“UN”) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UAE has introduced several projects and developments throughout the country and globally.  

UAE Environmental Protection Rules and Regulations

The UAE energy sector is governed at a federal level by the Federal Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (“FMEI”) and the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (“FEWA”). Nevertheless, electricity generation, transmission and distribution are regulated and provided by different entities across the Emirates extending to the jurisdiction of their respective geographical limits.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, established in 2018 by virtue of Law No. 11 of 2018 is the sole regulator of water and energy in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. In the same year, the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (“EWEC”) was established pursuant to UAE Law No. 11 of 2018, is the sole procurer of water and electricity. The aforementioned law stipulates the EWEC has an express obligation to ensure compliance with sustainability and renewable technologies, in association with the private sector as well.

The Emirate of Dubai has also taken a large leap after passing the Executive Council Resolution No. 46 of 2014 concerning the Connection of Generators and Electricity from Solar Energy to the Power Distribution System in the Emirate of Dubai. Also known as “Shams Dubai”, the Resolution sets out the requirements for both mainland and free zone, residential and commercial units, to connect to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (“DEWA”) solar energy distribution system. In addition, it is expected that solar panels will be installed in all buildings in Dubai by 2030.

UAE Renewable Energy Projects

The most notable solar energy projects in the UAE, which stand as two of the largest single-site concentrated solar energy plants in the world, include:

  1. Shams 1 Station by Masdar City, located in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
  2. Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, located in the emirate of Dubai.

The UAE occupies the 6th largest oil reserve and the 7th largest gas reserve in the world, which has been significantly exploited in early years in order to reduce commercial development costs and in turn attract more investment in the MENA Region. However, the country’s increasing focus on alternative sources of energy consumption, including renewable energy, have shown impeccable results on the reduced consumption and exposure of oil and gas.

In addition, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, a five-decade plan commencing from 2021 that aims at investing in future generations by investing in their education while focusing on advanced technology, as well as diversifying the imports and the exports of the country by relying less on oil and in turn raising productivity of the national economy. Furthermore, the UAE continues to be at the forefront of renewable energy research and diversification and is recognized as the leading hub for the export and re-export of green products in accordance with the country’s Green Growth Strategy.

It is evident that the UAE has taken positive steps towards energy conservation and development of alternative clean energy sources such as solar and wind. The projects and initiatives introduced to date have shown impeccable results on the reduced consumption and exposure of oil and gas and is the Green Growth Strategy, as well as the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, demonstrate a promising sustainable future.