United Arab Emirates - Country Commercial Guide
Renewable Energy

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-09-12

Overview

The UAE is a promising market for renewable energy products and services.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): 

  • Sets the pace in the energy transition for the GCC.
  • Has the highest portfolio of renewables for the region.

This is reflected by the following milestones:

The UAE launched a national Energy Strategy 2050” in January 2017. The UAE allocated over $163 billion to meet its goal to increase the contribution of clean energy sources in the total capacity mix to 50% (44% renewable and 6% nuclear) by 2050. This goes hand in hand with the UAE’s Vision 2021 strategic plan to generate 27% of its energy requirements from clean sources, including nuclear power, aiming for:

  • Renewable Energy: 44%
  • Gas: 38%
  • Clean Coal: 12%
  • Nuclear: 6%

In Dubai, the Supreme Council of Energy announced an implementation plan for the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to enhance the sustainable development of Dubai, a year after the launch of the national strategy by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and ruler of Dubai. In May 2020, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced that the share of clean energy in Dubai’s energy mix had increased to around 9%. This exceeds the target set in the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aimed to provide 7% of Dubai’s total power output from clean energy sources by 2020 and 75% by 2050. DEWA’s total installed capacity is 11,700 megawatt (MW) of electricity. This includes 1,013 MW from photovoltaic (PV) solar panels at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MBR) Solar Park, the largest solar park in the world, launched in January 2012 and managed by DEWA. The fifth phase totaling 900 MW was allocated in November 2019, with a world record price of $0.01693 per kWh.

Due to the size of the solar park, DEWA has divided construction into several phases:

Phase

Capacity

Technology

Status

Phase 1

13 MW

PV

Operational in 2013

Phase 2

200 MW

PV

Operational in 2017

Phase 3 – Stage 1

200 MW

PV

Operational in 2018

Phase 3 – Stage 2

300 MW

To be completed in 2020

Phase 3 – Stage 3

300 MW

Phase 4*

950 MW

PV (250 MW)

CSP (700 MW)

To be completed in 2022

Phase 5

900 MW

PV

To be commissioned starting Q2 2021

Table1: Phases of MBR Park

*MBR fourth phase highlights:

  • Largest single site investment project in the world.
  • Area of 44 square kilometers.
  • The world’s tallest solar tower measuring 850 feet.
  • Largest thermal energy storage capacity.
  • Use both CSP and PV solar technologies based on the independent power producer (IPP) model with investments up to $4.3 billion.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Large Scale Photovoltaic Projects

The UAE has established itself as a key solar market over the past several years and will continue to add MW to the grid in coming years, in particular with the construction of:

  • MBR Solar Park in Dubai with a total capacity of 5 GW by 2030 and investments worth over $10 billion.
  • Sweihan solar power plant in Abu Dhabi.
  • Abu Dhabi’s Shams 1opened in March 2013 as the world’s largest CSP facility. No official decision has been announced regarding the proposed construction of Shams 2 or Shams 3.  

Rooftop Projects

The rooftop solar initiative kicked off in the UAE in 2017 with approximately 4 MW connected at the start of the year, with a total of 20 MW peak installed by December 2017, according to the Middle East Solar Industry Association Solar Outlook Report 2018,

Dubai is working on several initiatives to include:

  • Under the Shams Initiative launched in 2014, Dubai achieved 125 MW of installed capacity in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings in 2019.
  • Solar panels on every roof in the emirate by 2030.
  • Under the net metering program, residents and businesses can add solar panels to their rooftops to generate electricity and excess electricity can be fed back into the grid for a credit on the power bill.

Abu Dhabi is looking to expand solar rooftop installations in commercial and residential areas. At the end of 2017, the emirate established a net metering regulation which will allow businesses and government buildings to add solar panels on building rooftops, which could reduce electricity bills by 25%.

Energy Storage 

In January 2018, DEWA signed a memorandum of understanding with Belgium’s Dredging, Environmental & Marine Engineering Group (DEME) and the GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) to explore the potential for a sizable hydro-energy storage site. This project follows DEWA’s launch of the 250 MW hydropower station in Hatta where water will be stored in the Hatta Dam to produce electricity.

Electrical Vehicles

The Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy intends to transform 25% of all transportation to autonomous means by 2030. Also, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy launched a number of initiatives to support electric vehicle owners, including free charging, parking and registration fees. 

In February 2017, U.S. electric car maker Tesla opened a showroom in Dubai. As of 2019, there are 103 Tesla destination charging stations and 3 supercharger stations available in UAE with plans to bring hundreds more online at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) service stations over the next several years.

Opportunities

  • Dubai seeks to establish floating solar power plants on the Arabian Gulf. DEWA and Dubai Municipality are studying the installation of a floating solar PV system on deep-water drainage lakes. In September 2019, DEWA issued a request for proposal for appointing consultants to study, develop, and construct floating solar PV plants in the Arabian Gulf.
  • In April 2020, Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) announced the 2 GW Al-Dhafra Solar PV IPP project, a consortium led by France’s EDF and China’s Jinko Power ($0.7934 cents/kWh). The project will have the capacity to power approximately 160,000 households across the UAE with electricity once completed in Q1 2022. Abu Dhabi could aim for up to 6 GW of additional capacity by 2026, according to the Solar Outlook Report 2020.
  • Bee’ah is planning for solar PV over its landfill.
  • Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Diamond Developers announced in March 2019 the construction of a sustainable city in Sharjah entirely powered by solar PV energy.
  • In early 2018, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality announced its new energy efficiency and renewable energy program, which includes up to 30% clean energy sources by 2040.
  • In January 2019, the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) and the emirate of Umm Al-Quwain signed an agreement for the development of a 200 MW solar park.

Resources

Trade Shows and Exhibitions

Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX 2020)
Date: October 26-28, 2020
Venue: Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre (virtual)

World Future Energy Summit
Date: January 18-21, 2020
Venue: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre

Key Websites

Department Abu Dhabi of Energy (DoE)

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority

National Climate Change Plan of the United Arab Emirates

Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA)