Next week I will have the honour of leading the UAE’s delegation to the World Energy Congress in Daegu, South Korea.
With a 90-year legacy, the congress is one of the world’s most prestigious forums bringing together nations, private and public sectors to tackle the most pressing global energy challenges. The prominent role we expect to play in Daegu is a testament both to our long history as an energy leader, and to the bold vision we have for the future.
The UAE has long been a central player in global energy: with the world’s seventh largest oil reserves we are a reliable supplier to global markets.
But we are also increasingly at the cutting edge in deploying new clean-energy technologies that will ensure our leadership role for generations to come.
With rising global energy demands putting a tremendous pressure on natural resources, we must constantly innovate to fuel social and economic opportunities at home, while ensuring power production globally.
In Abu Dhabi’s Western Region – where oil was discovered in 1958 – new technologies are helping to meet our production target of 3.5 million barrels per day by 2017.
Our hydrocarbon industry is applying advanced drilling technologies to access unconventional sources of oil and gas – extending the life of our precious resources.
Our national oil company is also exploring carbon-reduction technologies, which capture industrial emissions for enhanced oil recovery. And if successful, these technologies might revolutionise how hydrocarbon-rich nations produce oil and gas, while dramatically reducing their carbon footprint.
While our economy will continue to be reliant on hydrocarbons, we must also recognise a changing world and plan ahead. And thanks to our wise leadership, the UAE’s influence today goes beyond exporting oil and gas to also include clean energy.
This year, the UAE played a central role in developing the London Array – the world’s largest offshore wind farm. It now powers half a million homes in the UK.
At the other end of the scale, our clean energy projects in the nations of Seychelles and Mauritania prove that creating access to energy – even just a little amount – can have a tremendous effect.
Take the Seychelles for example. The development of a small, six-megawatt wind farm represents 8 per cent of the country’s total energy capacity. And for an island nation that relies entirely on imported fuel, renewable energy is not only cost-competitive, but has economic and social returns.
The development and export of renewable energy technology is a natural extension of the UAE’s energy leadership. Moving into new-energy sectors supports our commitment of delivering power to the world.
Clean energy is also making a major contribution at home. With a thriving economy, the UAE’s energy demand is projected to increase at a rate of nine per cent per year – three times the global average. New energy technologies are helping ensure our own energy security.
Shams 1 – one of the world’s largest solar-power projects – was inaugurated in March by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The sophisticated mega-project is now delivering electricity to 20,000 homes across the UAE. This is clean energy that directly supports balancing our domestic energy mix.
We are also committed to safe, peaceful nuclear facilities in the Western Region.
Construction has begun on four state-of-the-art nuclear-energy plants, which will deliver 5.4 gigawatts of energy by 2020. When complete, nuclear power will meet about 25 per cent of the UAE’s energy demand with safe, clean and reliable electricity.
This energy leadership pays off for the economy, too.
We are moving into knowledge-based industries that create jobs and human capital development and reduce our environmental effect. We are strengthening our ability to compete in an ever-competitive global economy. And by extending our energy leadership into all forms of energy, we are securing our long-term economic and social prosperity.
This is the compelling story of innovation and leadership that we look forward to sharing in Daegu. Across every dimension of energy, the UAE is leading the way.
His Excellency Suhail Al Mazrouei is the UAE’s Minister of Energy