Thanks to its iconic skyline, cutting-edge architecture, and plans for passenger drones and Hyperloop trains - to many of us, Dubai is known as a city of the future.
Hand-in-hand with this rapid pace of development is the need to fuel its continuing growth, and rather than tax its natural resources, the UAE has taken this same visionary approach towards developing sustainably. All as part of a goal of making Dubai a global leader in clean energy, green economy, and sustainable living by 2050.
In January 2012, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the UAE Green Growth Strategy programme under the slogan "A Green Economy For Sustainable Development." Since then, the country has established itself as a pioneer in the global energy market.
Not long after, in April 2013, Dubai hosted the world’s first green summit in the MENA region, wherein the Dubai Declaration stated its goal of turning the city into the global leader of the green economy by 2020, by which point it also aims to be welcoming 25 million by 2025.
Hard work yields results
Through its efforts, the emirate has made groundbreaking strides in innovation. Its focus on energy efficient growth has led to the development of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world.
Among the ambitions is to produce 5000MW by 2030, reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels with a reduction of approximately 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions, and create 1,100 green jobs by 2020. Meanwhile, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is striving to redefine the way it provides energy by generating 7% of the city’s total power output through clean energy by 2020, 25% by 2030, and ultimately reaching 75% by 2050. As part of its Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy (DIES) 2030, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) also aims to reduce the emirate’s electricity and water consumption by 30% by that year.
With an investment of AED 50 billion ($ 13.6 billion) in the park alone, and a AED100 billion ($ 27.2billion) investment in the Green Fund as part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, it’s no wonder Dubai is now at the forefront of globally renowned green practices. In 2015, the State of the Green Economy Report declared the emirate to be the "capital of the green economy". The park, which will feature an R&D section as well as smart grid technologies and the ability to produce electricity and water using solar energy, is set to encourage a culture of innovation in renewable energy, while providing incentives for the efficient use of natural resources and reducing the carbon footprint.
Reducing the price of energy for consumers
The UAE’s commitment to generating renewable energy has already had a positive global impact. In a statement made following 2017’s World Environment Day, HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy & the Managing Director and Chief Executive of DEWA, stated that Dubai’s efforts had contributed to a worldwide drop in prices and had lowered the price of solar and wind power bids in Europe and the Middle East.
The results mean Dubai could end up offering the world’s cheapest solar power, even by night. In a futuristic move worthy of a sci-fi film, Dubai has already used energy technology originally designed for use in outer space to create a sustainable house that is completely disconnected from the emirate’s power grid. The smart home is the first of its kind and was built in a mere 100 days. Homes such as this will have the potential to help power Dubai’s electricity grid with any surplus energy down the line as well.
Small steps toward a sustainable future
Such success from the development of the smart home details an exemplary approach to building a sustainable, environmentally-friendly future. With such a solid vision, a strong sense of commitment, and the willingness to break boundaries using technology and creativity, Dubai - and the UAE as a whole - is already well on its way to being a global leader in the green economy.
According to delegates and leaders in the industry, and discussions at the Green Leadership Series hosted by Dubai Science Park, integrated innovation is the key to unlocking and driving forth every aspect of the strategy and its ethos. No matter how boldly Dubai’s solar energy capabilities may be able to grow or what other plans that may be in store for the future, one thing for certain is the UAE’s green future looks bright.