Abu Dhabi DoE bolsters its efforts to attain UAE’s Net-Zero by 2050 goal

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Barakah Plant
Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) has confirmed the sector’s key initiatives over the next 10 years to enhance the UAE’s sustainable economic growth while supporting its ambitious Net Zero By 2050 Strategic Initiative.

During COP26 in Glasgow, the DoE outlined nine existing and planned projects focused on clean energy generation from solar and nuclear sources, electrification of the water production system through reverse osmosis (RO) technology and enabling policies and energy efficiency measures.

When combined these projects can reduce emissions associated with power generation and water production by at least 50 percent in the next decade.

H.E. Eng. Awaidha Al Marar
H.E. Eng. Awaidha Al Marar
Chairman – DoE
Abu Dhabi

“Building on a 15-year track record of climate innovation and on the UAE’s enduring support for the Paris Climate Agreement, our commitment is underpinned by a strategic shift to low-carbon technologies with large-scale investment in solar and nuclear energy to drive down emissions. For instance, Abu Dhabi has developed a world-class sustainability investment vehicle through the launch of Masdar City in 2008 as one of the world’s first carbon-neutral developments. Since then, we’ve taken the lead regionally in deploying renewable energy.”

Abu Dhabi’s energy sector is making several key contributions to the UAE Initiative to reduce emissions of more than 29 million tonnes per year by 2030 and these include:

  • Noor Abu Dhabi Solar PV plant projected to avoid up to 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year,
  • Barakah Nuclear Power Plan, which looks to reduce 21 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year,
  • Al Dhafra 2 gigawatts (GW) Single Site Solar PV Plant which could reduce 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions,
  • Two additional solar projects with a combined capacity of 2GW and the potential to avoid 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions,
  • Two waste-to-energy plants in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain are also expected to help reduce 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Mr. Al Marar added, “With these solar and nuclear projects, it is predicted to influence electricity generation by 2025 to be 7 percent produced from solar PV sources and 47 percent from nuclear. This means 55 percent of Abu Dhabi’s electricity in 2025 will be generated from clean sources and is expected to cut power generation emissions from 40 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020 to approximately 20 million tonnes in 2025.” 

Further, Abu Dhabi is contributing new planned water production electrification projects to support the energy transition and ensure the UAE Net Zero ambition becomes a reality in the future.

Commenting on the projects to decarbonize the water sector, Mr. Al Marar said, “Water is a vital resource and a national priority to cover the present and future water demands of our population, maintain our food security, and sustain our economic growth. We recognize the importance of reducing emissions associated with water production and capitalize on continued innovation in desalination technologies and new water demand management strategies.”

Noor Abu Dhabi
Noor Abu Dhabi Solar Power Plant is the world’s largest single-site solar power plant.

Four of DoE’s current desalination plants in Abu Dhabi utilize RO technology and represent 24 percent of the emirate’s desalinated water production in 2021. This share is expected to grow to 43 percent by 2025 as new RO projects are implemented.

Additional RO projects through 2030 with an approximate total capacity of 680 million gallons per day are expected to increase the share of RO in Abu Dhabi’s total water production to 80 percent and reduce 4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

The UAE Net Zero Strategic Initiative also outlines a package of proposals to make the UAE’s energy, environment, industry, and transportation policies fit for enabling the necessary acceleration of greenhouse gas emission reductions in the next decade. 

An important initiative in this regard is the Abu Dhabi Demand Side Management and Energy Rationalization Strategy which DoE created to address supply and demand issues through a 9-program multi-stakeholder approach that aims to reduce electricity consumption by 22 percent and water consumption by 32 percent by 2030.

Between 2019 and 2020, Abu Dhabi’s DSM initiatives have contributed to achieving 6,183 GWh of cumulative annual electricity savings and 230 Mm3 of annual water savings, which represent short-term costs savings in the order of $300 million, while avoiding the emission of approximately 3.2 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

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