Dubai — The UAE expects at least 20% of its installed electricity capacity to come from clean sources in three years as OPEC's third-largest producer boosts renewable and nuclear power generation amid plans to diversify its energy mix and lower its carbon footprint, an energy ministry official told S&P Global Platts.
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Based on committed plans, the UAE will have around 50 GW of electricity in three years, with more than 11 GW coming from renewable and nuclear energy sources, Yousif al-Ali, the ministry's assistant undersecretary for electricity, water and future energy affairs said in an interview May 16. Currently the UAE's installed electricity capacity is about 40 GW.
The UAE, which has a 2050 strategy to produce half its power from renewables and nuclear energy, is revising this roadmap by 2022 and forging ahead with plans to reduce consumption in both electricity and water, he said.
"If you want to really reduce carbon you have to really work on efficiency, you have to reduce your own consumption," said Ali. "This is really low hanging fruit."
The 2050 strategy, which was announced in 2017, includes plans to produce 44% of power from renewables, 6% from nuclear, 12% from clean coal and the rest from natural gas. The strategy also calls for the reduction of the country's carbon footprint from power generation by 70%, leading to Dirhams 700 billion ($190.6 billion) in savings as the government invests Dirhams 600 billion to meet growing energy demand by 2050.
Currently the UAE mainly relies on gas to produce electricity, but it wants to free up the fuel for use in industries and other sectors amid plans to wean itself off gas imports.
In recent years the UAE has boosted its solar power and in 2021 started commercial operations of its first 1.4 GW nuclear unit, one of four plants that are being developed that will ultimately generate 5.6 GW of electricity in total.
The UAE is also working to reduce it power consumption by 40% and its water consumption by 50% compared with previous plans to lower its carbon footprint.
In 2018, the UAE was the world's 10th highest consumer of electricity per capita at 13.2 MWh/capita, according to the International Energy Agency.
As part of the national demand-side management policy, the ministry is working to reduce electricity usage in various sectors including the industrial sector, which accounts for at least 50% of the country's power consumption, Ali said.
The industrial sector requires baseload power, while the residential and buildings sector's electricity consumption fluctuates between seasons, rising in summer when AC usage is highest and declining in winter.
Despite being the biggest electricity consumer, the industrial sector has some advantages.
"In the industrial sector we are more efficient, [and] in general in the UAE, the industrial tariff is more expensive than residential," Ali said.