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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

UAE needs at least 1GW of renewables projects a year, says Energy Minister 

Country is targeting 44GW of clean energy by 2050

Last year, the UAE announced its ambitions to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70 per cent by 2050 and increase clean energy use by 50 per cent. Stephen Lock / The National
Last year, the UAE announced its ambitions to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70 per cent by 2050 and increase clean energy use by 50 per cent. Stephen Lock / The National

The UAE, which has set a target to generate 44 per cent of power from renewables by 2050, expects to tender at least 1GW a year of projects as it continues to diversify its energy mix, Minister of Energy said on Tuesday.

“We’re seeing at least a 1,000 megawatt of mega-projects every year to meet 44GW…from now until 2050 and that I think is achievable because it makes sense economically and most of that is going to be for the private sector,” Suhail Al Mazrouei told The National on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Last year, the UAE announced its ambitions to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70 per cent by 2050, increase clean energy use by 50 per cent and improve energy efficiency by 40 per cent by the middle of the century, resulting in savings worth Dh700 billion.

The UAE, which currently derives around 98 per cent of its energy needs from gas, has set a target to meet 44 per cent of its energy from renewables, 38 per cent from gas, 12 per cent from fossil and the remainder from nuclear.

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Arabian Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, are adopting renewables to free up oil and gas used in power generation for export and other industrial uses. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is targeting developing 9.5GW of renewable energy capacity by 2023.

Mr Al Mazrouei said the prices for concentrated solar power (CSP) will continue to fall and will become competitive to that of gas.

Falling prices for CSP have led to its gradual uptake in mega-projects in the Middle East. In September, Dubai launched the world's largest CSP plant - a 700MW extension to the existing Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar complex, which is set to provide more than three times the capacity initially planned.

The developers - a consortium of Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and China's Shanghai Power - also submitted low bids to generate electricity at 7.3 US cents per kilowatt-hour, one of the lowest at the time.

Construction of Abu Dhabi’s largest solar power plant also began last year. The 1.17GW solar photovoltaic plant, which will produce enough electricity to power about 200,000 homes, will be built by Japan’s Marubeni and Jinko Solar of China. The Asian consortium submitted the lowest bid to provide electricity at a non-weighted cost of 2.94 cents kWh, making it one of the cheapest PV solar projects in the world.

Abu Dhabi is planning a second solar power plant and will invite bidders by the middle of the year, Saif Al Sayari, the acting director general of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority said on Monday, Reuters reported.

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