The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has the experience and resources to open up huge economic potential as the world looks forward to the transition to a lower-carbon economy, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, stated.
During the Ministerial Dialogue on Clean Energy Transitions and Economic Resilience in the MENA region organized by the International Energy Agency (IEA), Dr. Al Jaber, who is also the Managing Director and Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) stated that the UAE’s energy transition goals are one of the key reasons why the country has offered to host the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) as it aims to fully leverage this platform to reinforce that progressive climate action can create lasting economic prosperity for the region.
“The UAE, it is fair to say, was one of the first countries in the region to use its position as a leading hydrocarbon producer to become a pioneer in all forms of energy. Fifteen years ago, our leadership founded Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s Future Energy company focused on unlocking the promise of renewable energy, both in the UAE and abroad. Back then, renewable energy technology was still nascent and expensive. Yet, investing in this sector has paid off over time, and today the UAE operates the three largest and lowest cost solar plants in the world. We’ve also invested in solar and wind projects around the world, in particular across this region, from Morocco to Jordan and from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Oman.”
The natural attributes of the region, across both conventional and renewable energy, add up to a major competitive advantage for the region which it must capitalize on together. The UAE, as a first-mover in promoting and investing in advanced energy, has made major strides in this regard.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to create stronger and greener economies across the globe gained more attention. Countries are investing heavily in meeting their energy needs from renewable sources and are pushing to develop new technologies to cut emissions.
Despite the pandemic, more renewable energy was added to the grid around the world than ever before, and the MENA region grew by a robust 5 percent. But, when considering the total installed renewable energy capacity in MENA, it still only represents just over 1 percent of the world’s renewable energy, Dr. Al Jaber noted.
“While the future is bright for renewable energy in MENA, this region is also perfectly positioned to take advantage of promising new low and zero-carbon energies, like blue and green hydrogen,” the minister added.
Countries that are rich in hydrocarbons already have the gas infrastructure to develop the supply chain for producing and shipping hydrogen at a large scale. Last month, the UAE completed its third proof-of-concept shipment of hydrogen to Japan, using ammonia as a carrier fuel.
During the virtual session titled ‘Ensuring Competitiveness through Low Carbon Export Industries,’ the UAE minister welcomed enhanced partnership across the energy spectrum at every level.
“With the right policies, regulatory framework, and financial incentives, we have an unprecedented opportunity to set our economies on low carbon, high growth trajectory. In short, we can make the transition to a lower-carbon future our path to lasting prosperity. Prosperity through a partnership is central to the UAE’s Fiftieth-anniversary plan to continue to build dynamic economic progress for the next fifty years,” Dr. Al Jaber concluded.
The Ministerial Dialogue was co-hosted by Mr. Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhi, Minister of Energy and Minerals of the Sultanate of Oman, and Dr. Faith Birol, Executive Director of the IEA.