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Local Press: UAE is securing its water supply while cutting its carbon footprint

by Dubai Forum
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ABU DHABI, 10th March, 2023 (WAM) — A UAE-based English newspaper has lauded Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC)’s goal for a 606 percent rise in its solar power generation capacity by 2030, which was approved by the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, calling for continued investment in low-carbon desalination technology.

In an editorial on Friday, The National said, “For countries such as the UAE, making sure there is a plentiful supply of clean water is of existential importance. The Emirati people are well aware of this, with the hard struggle of past generations to find potable water in isolated desert oases being part of the country’s collective memory.”

But traditional methods of desalination are energy-intensive and pose challenges for nations, which have ambitious targets to reduce their carbon footprint, the editorial stated.

This reverse-osmosis technology uses a membrane-based method to produce clean water using less energy compared to the usual thermal process. Last month, EWEC announced that it had awarded its Mirfa 2 reverse-osmosis project to a consortium of France’s Engie and UAE-based TAQA. The plant will eventually be able to produce approximately 550,000 cubic metres.

The UAE’s dual commitment to research and investment in renewable energy – particularly solar – will play an important role in securing the country’s water supply. It is already building the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai with a capacity of five gigawatts. Abu Dhabi, which is developing a two-gigawatt solar plant in its Al Dhafra region, has set a target of 5.6 gigawatts of solar PV capacity by 2026.

The paper continued, “These enormous energy parks in the Emirates’ deserts are complemented by smaller-scale solar generation, such as the panels on everyday street fixtures such as the Mawaqif parking machines found in Abu Dhabi. In time, developing housing with solar panels as standard – such as that seen in some Mediterranean countries – will also help harness the Sun’s power.”

An encouraging sign is how the markets are reacting to this embrace of renewable energy. Last month, S&P Global Ratings reported that there is likely to be a “strong pipeline” of sustainable bonds coming from the Middle East this year as the region continues to focus on the green economy.

The issuance of green bonds to finance climate-related projects grew by 38 percent in the Middle East during the five-year period to the end of 2020, according to a Boston Consulting Group report. The consultancy also found that Middle Eastern governments drove 97 percent of green bond issuances in 2020 alone, compared with 13 percent four years earlier.

And according to Allied Market Research, the global sustainable finance market, valued at $3.65 trillion in 2021, is set to grow further, hitting $22.48 trillion by 2031.

“This market-backed drive to develop renewable energy – that will help environmentally friendly desalination and reduce domestic energy costs – comes at a time when the UAE is refusing to be complacent and is taking its future challenges seriously,” the daily noted.

Next month, it will release its National Hydrogen Strategy and will invest AED600 billion ($163.37 billion) in clean and renewable energy initiatives over the next three decades to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Abu Dhabi-based daily concluded by saying, “The UAE has the vision, financial resources and the space to undertake these measures quicker than other countries, showing what can be achieved with political will and targeted investments. Turning seawater into the stuff of life is not the same as turning lead into gold, but these latest developments show it can be profitable and perhaps magical too.”


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