posted on 11/10/2012: 925 views
There is no shortage of natural resources in the UAE which holds the world's sixth-largest oil reserves and has the fifth-largest national gas reserve, a privileged position which has garnered substantial economic benefits for the nation ever since the union in 1971.
In recent years, however, with ecological scarcities plaguing the planet, and energy consumption continuously on the rise, the UAE has sought to considerably reduce its dependency on oil. Instead, it has focused on the sustainable development approach, which encourages the use of renewable resources that can be naturally replenished and create pure ‘clean' energy that can supply electricity, cooling and heating requirements. Indeed, with global energy demand set to double or even triple by 2050, the emirates has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to a renewable energy future, launching a host of initiatives which aim to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.
Dubai — A solid ground for sustainability
The second largest of the seven emirates, Dubai boasts abundant natural resources — many of which can expedite the delivery of renewable energy. In the past decade, the Government of Dubai has established a slew of plans which aim to reap the benefits of this resource-endowment as well as drive the emirate's eco-mission and shape the future of global sustainability. One of the most ambitious of these projects is the creation of a multi-billion-dirham solar-energy park managed by the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa) and to be completed by 2030. Announced in January 2012, The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park symbolises a true milestone for the UAE, especially as it intends to reach a capacity output of 1,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030.
According to Saeed Al Tayer, Vice-Chairman of the Supreme Council of Energy for Dubai (DSCE), this park will provide five per cent of Dubai's total power needs by 2030, using a range of solar power technologies such as concentrated solar power, stirling dishes, parabolic dishes and photovoltaic cells.
"This important step, which comes within a global movement to create energy using renewable resources, will further preserve natural resources and curb CO2 emissions as well as help establish a clean and healthy environment to live in,” Al Tayer said.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which will be managed and operated by Dewa, is instrumental to the DSCE's Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 — a long-term programme launched in 2011 which aims to diversify the emirate's energy mix to include renewable energy and reduce its consumption by 30 per cent by 2030. The strategy is set to diversify the city's energy production by encouraging potential business opportunities, public-private partnerships and substantial investments. The Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence (DCCE) — instituted in 2011 — also plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the city's energy security, offering a wide range of carbon diminution services and consolidated advice to both public and private organisations.
It is also important to note that the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has kept sustainability and reduced carbon emissions in mind while planning for the Dubai Metro, a regional first, in addition to other modes of public transportation. The RTA is taking its efforts a step further by aiming to reduce consumption in its buildings, modes of transport and customer service operations.
Dubai Metro is considered one of the leading modes of public transport that uses clean energy, as it is electrically operated and is a modern driverless way of transport. It is another addition to the RTA's sustainable initiatives like using diesel in public buses that run on advanced engines that comply with the highest European standards.
The Dubai Municipality works based on a strategic vision that fosters an investment-friendly ecosystem and innovative planning in the green economy, implementing a number of programmes, projects and initiatives that aim to enhance sustainable opportunities for development. The municipality's liquid waste management efforts have led to significant impact on the environment, sustainable development, treatment plants and an increase in the quality of the final water product. These efforts have also led to the development of green belts around the city and planting desert plants at various locations. The municipality adopts green building standards that have shed a positive light on Dubai in implementing best practices, recycling and water treatment.
These initiatives are all working to meet the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who inaugurated a long-term economic initiative to build a green economy in the UAE, under the slogan ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development,' which covers the fields of Green Energy, Green Economy, Green City, Green Policy and Programmes, Green Living, and Green Technology.
This initiative aims to create sustainable development for Dubai and the UAE. One of the ways the Supreme Council's member companies intend to achieve this is by making Dubai a hub for sustainable energy management. These members, comprising Dewa, the Dubai Aluminium Company Limited (Dubal), the Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc), the Dubai Supply Authority (DUSUP), the Dubai Petroleum Corporation, the Dubai Nuclear Energy Committee and the Dubai Municipality (DM) — which the Emirate has managed to forge such a solid and unified vision for a sustainable future. They are all working to realise this through the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, which plans to reduce energy consumption as well as introduce a diverse energy mix to power the Emirate, including nuclear energy, clean coal and renewable energy.
A zero-carbon city
Another example of the UAE's ‘greener' approach was the establishment of Masdar in 2006 — an Abu Dhabi-based enterprise dedicated to advancing sustainable development. In the past six years, the firm has placed itself at the forefront of the country's eco-strategy, impacting a wide range of sustainability issues including matters of innovation, research and development. The organisation's all-encompassing commitment to alternative sources of energy is especially epitomised by Masdar City, an extensive project being built by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company — a subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Company. Located 17 kilometres from the capital centre, it is described as a "high-density, pedestrian-friendly development where current and future renewable energy and clean technologies are showcased, marketed, researched, developed, tested and implemented.”
In effect, the project can accommodate 40,000 residents, providing them with a fully-integrated eco-friendly lifestyle replete with solar panels, a multi-storey wind tower and even a research-driven university (the Masdar Institute). In parallel, Masdar Power — a developer of renewable power generation operations — in collaboration with Abengoa Solar and Total, is also building the 100 megawatts Shams 1 Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) in Abu Dhabi, a 30 megawatts wind farm and a PV array on Sir Bani Yas Island. Centering on photovoltaic solar energy, offshore wind energy and CSP, the division's contributions extend well-beyond national borders with projects such as a 1,000 megawatts London Array offshore wind farm and another one in the Seychelles. Since the company's very inception, Masdar has also continued to make hefty investments in the power industry — primarily through its private equity firm Masdar Capital — providing substantial financial backing to fund large-scale developments and achieve renewable energy capacity. By June 2009, it was clear that the UAE's pledge to tackle energy efficiency was serious. After all, Abu Dhabi's Masdar City was chosen to house the permanent headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — a world-renowned inter-governmental organisation which endorses various sources of renewable energy. Comprising 101 state members in addition to 58 national signatories and applicants worldwide, IRENA works to offer major support to both developed and developing countries in their mission to enhance the use of renewable energies. Through their membership, these countries have further access to a treasure trove of ecological data, groundbreaking green technologies and policies as well as related financial strategies. While the selection of the UAE to house IRENA's offices marks the first time that an international agency of such calibre is hosted in the Middle East, it certainly did not come as a surprise given the nation's relentless support of ecological projects. Serving as a focused, cooperative and independent catalyst for the development of renewable energy, the IRENA has truly fast-tracked the UAE and world's eco-expansion.
A global platform
Throughout the years, the UAE's trail-blazing efforts to move the eco-needle have garnered immense recognition among the international community. In fact, as a result of its pioneering leadership in environmental practices, and rich desert oasis, the city of Dubai was elected to host the World Energy Forum (WEF) this year, under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. This is the first time that this conference is taking place outside the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, the event's 2012 edition takes place at the Dubai International Convention Centre from October 22-24, 2012 and centres on the theme of ‘A Forum For World Leaders.' With The United Nations designating 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, it was also the emirate's strong eco-approach — manifested by its Green Economy Initiative — as well as its position as a politically stable global hub for finance, tourism, business and trade, which provided it hosting privileges.
The World Energy Forum brings together world leaders from Member States of the United Nations as well as corporations and international organisations, to examine solutions to expand access to sustainable energy services. The forum will bring together than 40 heads of state, 100 ministers and 200 industry leaders in the energy sector, subject-matter experts, policy and decision makers to share views and discuss energy and its sustainability with the ultimate goal of providing safe sustainable energy to everyone and achieving economic and social development for the peoples of the world.
This forum also shows how the UAE is taking up the collective approach of nations around the world to create a sustainable future for the world. In the past decade, the UAE has certainly undergone an ecological awakening, implementing myriad eco-plans and placing the use of renewable energy high on the country's political, social and economic agenda. In truth, it is the emirates' impressive quality of social services combined with the exponential growth of its infrastructure, remarkable safety record and leadership commitment which has led it to become a global partner in sustainable development.
Today, the UAE seeks an even greater role to mend the ecological crisis and continues to take strategic leaps — in the form of policies, events, partnerships or projects — towards a greener environment and economy. The cornerstone of ecological sustainability, renewable sources will not solely help meet the power demands of the future, but also guarantee the health and well-being of generations to come. – Khaleej Times
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