Renewable Energy Leadership
In a region with extreme heat and scarce natural water sources, the UAE is taking aggressive action to meet the global climate challenge and believes low-carbon investments will support economic growth and job creation.
Partnerships between the UAE and US are driving advances in sustainability and clean energy technology. Emirati experts and officials work with the US and other international partners to strengthen cooperation around shared sustainability goals.
Cooperation with the United States is central to the UAE’s climate plan. During a visit to the UAE ahead of President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry noted, "It’s remarkable to find the UAE trying to lead many other nations in the search of new technology to address the global climate challenge and in transitioning to the new economy while facing this [global health] crisis.” Following bilateral discussions, the UAE and US committed to taking action against climate change and working to accelerate economic growth and sustainable development.
The US and UAE collaborated to establish Mission Innovation, a partnership to double clean energy R&D within 5 years. UAE investments in the renewable energy sector in the United States are helping grow the economy and create jobs while laying the foundation for a more sustainable energy future.
In 2019, UAE-company Masdar invested in renewable energy projects in the United States for the first time, acquiring wind farms in New Mexico and Texas. Building on this, in 2020 Masdar announced a second investment in eight additional wind and solar projects in Nebraska, Texas and California.
Meanwhile, within the UAE, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has played a key role in the establishment and development of Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which in February 2017 merged with the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research and the Petroleum Institute. The merger created Khalifa University of Science and Technology, a world-class, research-intensive institution that develops world leaders and critical thinkers in applied science and engineering.
UAE Adoption of Clean Energy
The UAE has pioneered renewable energy in the heart of the hydrocarbon industry and has committed to the region’s first economy-wide, absolute emissions reduction target – 23.5 percent by 2030. Clean energy will make up 50 percent of its energy mix by 2050, including solar, wind and other sustainable sources.
The development of a peaceful nuclear energy sector is a key component of the strategy. With the support of US partners, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant will save up to 21 million tons of carbon emissions each year once fully operational.
The UAE is working to lower the carbon impact of hydrocarbons. Recognizing that the world will continue to rely on oil and gas for the midterm, the UAE is a leader in carbon capture, and is reducing the carbon intensity of its production operations.
Through over 15 years of R&D and policy work, solar energy is now available at 1.35 cents per kilowatt hour, the lowest rate in the world and the cheapest daytime power source vs. all other options in the Middle East.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is working with GE to build the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, the world’s largest single-site solar project. At its planned total capacity, it will power up to 1.3 million homes. The solar park will use GE’s liquid-cooled solar inverters to convert solar panel output to grid-ready electrical currents.
Meanwhile, the Noor Abu Dhabi solar park, which began operations in June 2019, will offset the UAE’s carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 200,000 cars per year. UN Secretary General António Guterres visited the site after it launched, calling it “the kind of clean and efficient solution needed to address the global climate emergency.”
The first Middle Eastern nation to sign the Paris Agreement, the UAE is committed to global partnership and domestic policy for a low-carbon future. In 2010, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) – an intergovernmental organization that promotes sustainability – established its headquarters in the UAE, marking the first time an international organization with global membership has been headquartered in the region.
In January 2021, the UAE launched the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance, which will advance low-carbon green and blue hydrogen in emerging international markets and help build a substantial hydrogen economy in the UAE.
Beyond its multilateral commitments, the UAE supports global sustainable development. To date, the UAE has invested in renewable energy ventures with a total value of around US$16.8 billion across the globe, from the UK to India to Uzbekistan. The UAE provides $1 billion of aid for renewables to more than 40 countries, with a special focus on island and least-developed nations.
In January 2017, the UAE announced a $50 million fund for renewable energy projects in 16 Caribbean islands. The Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund aims to reduce energy costs in the region and improve energy security. Launched in 2013, the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund supported renewable energy projects in 11 Pacific Island countries through the allocation of grants.