Enabling the UAE's energy transition

The policy recommendations to enhance low-carbon growth in the UAE
Enabling the UAE's energy transition
The Sustainable City in Dubai is successful in achieving a lower footprint through efficient design and low carbon initiatives
By Abdulla Al Nuaimi
Thu 26 Jul 2018 03:41 PM

Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Every country around the world must take steps to address the issue or risk facing a wide range of economic, social and environmental impacts.

In search of solutions, the UAE Ministry of Energy and Industry (MOEI) and Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF) recently released a joint report highlighting which innovative policies, incentives and technologies could accelerate the UAE’s progress towards its target of 44 percent renewable energy capacity by 2050.

The new joint report by MOEI and EWS-WWF, entitled “Enabling the UAE’s Energy Transition: Top Ten Priority Areas for Renewable Energy Policymakers”, provides decision-makers with science-based, stakeholder-driven recommendations to achieve the goals of the UAE National Energy Plan 2050.

Private sector opportunities

Economic growth and job creation, in addition to energy security and emissions reduction, are important factors for the private sector in implementing an energy plan guided by the report’s recommendations.

Private sector examples of how this can be achieved include The Sustainable City (TSC) by Diamond Developers, a low-carbon residential and mixed-use project in Dubai. The city aims to become the first operational net zero energy development in the emirate – a unique challenge in the harsh climate of the UAE. The top ten key policy areas are encapsulated in TSC and the site demonstrates the practicalities of the report’s recommendations. For example, area two and three of the report pertain to CO2 and renewable energy targets, recommending a policy framework which sets review milestones and interim targets.


About Emirates Wildlife Society – WWF

The Emirates Wildlife Society NGO was established in 2001 and works in association with WWF, one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the environment. For more information: uae.panda.org


On the community level, TSC has been able to achieve and even exceed net zero energy during some (winter) months of operation. A four-bedroom villa at TSC achieved net zero consumption during the months of February and March in 2017 and was able to achieve a surplus of solar electricity generation in February of 2018.

Area six of the report concerns issues associated with water. The report’s water recommendations include decoupling future power generation and water desalination infrastructure through the introduction of additional standalone water production plants. Water consumption in TSC was recorded monthly and per capita usage is 31 percent less than the lowest DEWA water design consumption rate for residential buildings. TSC’s achievements show the practicalities of the report’s findings and highlights the business case for pursuing an energy transition.

Transitioning to renewable energy provides great economic opportunities for all countries committed to reducing their emissions, including the UAE”

The role of partnerships

The UAE is set to benefit immensely from the development and use of renewable energy technologies. As our report demonstrates, transitioning to renewable energy provides great economic opportunities for all countries committed to reducing their emissions, including the UAE. That is why our work on supporting the UAE in achieving its goals is strongly inclusive of our partnerships with corporations alike.

We invite entities across all sectors, including the financial sector, to support initiatives covering a broad range of issues, from renewable energy and sustainable transport to energy and water efficiency by partnering with EWS-WWF’s Climate and Energy Programme.

EWS-WWF is committed to helping our society to redefine its relationship with our planet so that people can live in harmony with nature, and it is through partnerships that tackling climate change becomes a reality. The solutions are already available and are being proven to work. Now it’s a matter of putting them into action.


Top ten policy recommendations

1. Competition: Promote open and fair competition between technologies based on transparent mechanisms across the energy value chain.

2. CO2 targets: Complement existing renewable energy targets as a pathway for CO2 emissions reductions.

3. Renewable energy targets: Establish a fully flexible renewable energy policy framework which sets review milestones.

4. Firmness and flexibility: Enable technology-neutral auctions that adapt to changing requirements as the system and energy economics evolve.

5. Demand-side management: Accelerate energy efficiency improvements across all sectors with measures that have the greatest energy-saving potential.

6. The water-power nexus: Decouple power generation and water desalination through the introduction of standalone water production plants powered by renewable energy.

7. Emerging technologies: Support the development of, and competition amongst, emerging technologies such as seasonal storage and electric vehicles.

8. Networks: Prevent congestion and ensure that costs to resolve constraints are kept to a minimum to keep the network as efficient as possible.

9. Interconnection: Build a regulatory framework for efficient dispatch between domestic utilities and consider regional trading with KSA and Oman.

10. Innovation: Encourage research and development by government, private sector and academic institutions.



Abdulla Al Nuaimi, Director of Business Development, Emirates Wildlife Society – WWF

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