Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The Middle Eastern nation has set a goal of 27 percent of its energy coming from "clean" sources by 2021.

Over the last decade, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has demonstrated its commitment to develop the renewable and alternative energy sector. The local government has invested in various solar, wind and other types of renewable energy projects in the UAE and abroad. These initiatives are undertaken to meet the increasing demand for energy that has resulted from population growth and industrial expansion. Also relevant is the country’s desire to reduce its economic dependence on oil and gas. To further facilitate growth within this sector, government organizations such the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority have spearheaded innovative research in the areas of clean and alternative energy.

The country’s vision is to increase the contribution of clean energy to its total energy mix, from less than 1 percent currently to 27 percent by 2021. In January 2017, Vice President and Prime Minister (of UAE) and Ruler (of Dubai) His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum unveiled the UAE energy strategy through 2050. Under this strategy, the energy mix in 2050 would comprise 44 percent renewable energy, 38 percent gas, 12 percent clean coal and 6 percent nuclear. The objective behind the 2050 strategy is not just to increase the UAE’s production of clean and alternative energy; it also calls for the UAE to improve its energy efficiency by 40 percent and to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent. In September 2016, the UAE became the first country in the Middle East that agreed to sign the Paris accord on climate change, which led to the creation of a Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment.

The UAE has emerged as a regional hub for clean and alternative energy events. Every October, Dubai hosts the Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) and the World Green Economy Summit, the latter of which is one of the leading forums on the green economy. And in January, Masdar hosts Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which brings public- and private-sector stakeholders together to address challenges and celebrate achievements in sustainable development and clean energy. Below are some industry highlights:

  • The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) is constructing four 1,400MW reactors in Abu Dhabi’s western region—a project known as the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant. The first reactor became operational on March 26, 2018, while the other three reactors will be completed by 2021.
  • DEWA is building a solar park, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which will have a capacity of 5,000MW when fully complete in 2030.
  • In June 2017, Majid Al Futtaim and Veolia of France signed a deal to install 12,500 solar panels at four Majid Al Futtaim malls.
  • In October 2017, the Federal Electricity and Water Authority announced that Ras Al Khaimah would build a clean coal power station by the first quarter of 2021. This 8 billion AED ($2.2 billion) plant would reportedly have a capacity of 1,800MW.
  • In January 2018, Tadweer (the Center for Waste Management in Abu Dhabi) signed a contract for the first landfill gas-to-energy investment project in the Middle East. This project will produce approximately 5MW of power by September 2018 from gas at Al Dhafra Landfill.