The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced plans to invest $54 billion in renewable energy over the next seven years as part of its strategy to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The UAE’s National Energy Strategy aims to triple the country’s share of energy from renewable sources and highlights hydrogen as a key clean energy source. This announcement comes as the UAE prepares to host the upcoming COP28 climate conference in November.
While fossil fuels still dominate the global energy system, the UAE has faced criticism from climate activists for appointing Sultan al-Jaber, the head of ADNOC, to lead COP28. However, the country was the first in the region to announce its goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Central to this target is the approval of the UAE’s National Energy Strategy 2050. Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed has appointed Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, CEO of the Abu Dhabi wealth fund and deputy chairman of Masdar, to oversee the $54 billion investment.
In addition to increasing reliance on renewables, the strategy also includes plans to improve energy efficiency and promote the use of clean energy. The objective is to support research and development programs in clean energy technologies and attract investments in the sector. The UAE aims to achieve a clean energy capacity of 14GW by 2030, up from the current capacity of 9.2GW. The strategy also aims to achieve financial savings of up to $27 billion by 2030. The energy mix envisioned by the UAE includes 44% clean energy, 38% gas, 12% clean coal, and 6% nuclear power.
In the short term, the UAE aims to increase its share of clean energy to 30% by 2031 and reduce carbon emissions from power generation by 70% by 2050. The country signed a $100 billion clean energy deal with the United States last year as part of the Partnership for Accelerating Clean Energy (PACE) agreement. This agreement aims to deploy 100GW of clean energy in both countries and in emerging economies by 2035. The partners recently announced a $20 billion investment to fund 15GW of clean and renewable energy projects. Additionally, the UAE’s oil and gas giant has committed $15 billion to invest in low-carbon projects to reduce emissions and meet decarbonization goals.
In addition to the National Energy Strategy, the UAE Cabinet has also approved the National Hydrogen Strategy. The goal of this strategy is to make the UAE one of the world’s top 10 hydrogen producers by 2031. The strategy builds on the roadmap unveiled during the COP26 climate talks in 2021, with the aim of producing 14 to 22 million tons of hydrogen per year by 2050. Sheikh Mohammed emphasized that the strategy aims to position the UAE as a producer and exporter of low-emission hydrogen through the development of supply chains, the establishment of hydrogen oases, and a national research and development center.
The UAE government aims to capture 25% of the market share for low-carbon hydrogen and derivatives in major import markets by 2030, with a focus on Europe, India, Japan, and South Korea. The country already has plans for more than seven projects that will deliver 0.5 million tons of low-carbon hydrogen per year. The UAE’s ambition is to become a global leader in low-carbon hydrogen and establish a robust hydrogen ecosystem. Low-carbon hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced with low carbon emissions, either through blue hydrogen from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, or green hydrogen produced through electrolyzers powered by renewable energy.
Hydrogen plays a crucial role in the UAE’s net zero strategy, and the government plans to invest over $163 billion by 2050 to meet the growing energy demand and ensure sustainable economic growth. With its significant investments in renewables and hydrogen, the UAE is positioning itself as a leader in the transition to a low-carbon economy and is taking steps to achieve its ambitious climate goals.