GCC’s renewable energy transition unlocks potential for a new green economy

18 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

DUBAI: Global climate change leaders who attended the UAE Regional Dialogue for Climate Action in Abu Dhabi on April 4 witnessed first-hand a region that is not only talking about carbon-reduction commitments and the strategic transition to a renewable energy future but one that is also investing heavily in delivering on decarbonisation pledges, with leaders taking bold action.

Hastening climate action is necessary to combat the forces of climate change and, in the face of inaction, the real potential for climate disaster. At the same time, climate action represents a tremendous opportunity to develop a new sustainable green energy economy, report agencies.

That expansion in clean technology and sustainable development simply makes good business sense was the message Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE’s special envoy for climate change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, delivered to delegates.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia look at investment in clean energy as an essential component of economic diversification, industrialisation, job creation and preparations for a post-oil economy. That is why the development of renewable energy technology, infrastructure and facilities are key pillars of the UAE’s Operation 300bn and Saudi Arabia’s Made in Saudi manufacturing and industrialisation strategies.

Saudi Arabia is committed to achieving 50 per cent of energy production from renewables by 2030. To reach this goal, the kingdom plans to spend up to $50 billion on new infrastructure by 2023.

This renewable energy economic development strategy includes 30 per cent local content requirements, as well as local hiring targets. The kingdom’s new 300-megawatt Sakaka solar plant recently announced it achieved 100 per cent local hiring, with 90 per cent representing young Saudis from Al Jouf.

The UAE National Energy Plan 2050 calls for clean energy to represent 50 per cent of the nation’s total energy mix by 2050. That would reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70 per cent, bringing with it cost savings estimated at $190bn.

This includes the two largest single-site solar plants in the world that are currently being developed in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Both will contribute to the growing UAE green economy while promoting job creation and investment in renewables’ research and development.

Countries such as Egypt and Oman have additional forces driving their renewables strategy. Energy demand in Egypt is expected to more than double in the next 10 years, while peak energy demand in Oman is expected to increase by more than 50 per cent by 2023.