The United Arab Emirates (UAE) currently relies on thermal power for most of its electricity supply and in 2021 this accounted for 92.6% of its total electricity generation. However, the country is looking to reduce its dependency on thermal power and move towards clean energy, found GlobalData. According to the leading data and analytics company, the country is aiming to meet 30% of its power needs using clean energy by 2030.
GlobalData’s latest report, ‘UAE Power Market Size, Trends, Regulations, Competitive Landscape and Forecast, 2022-2035’, reveals that the UAE is working to introduce pumped hydro into the country’s power mix. This is expected to start with the Al Hattawi pumped storage plant when it begins commercial operations in 2026.
The project is designed to use and store water from the existing Hatta dam for generating electricity during peak demand periods. The project was launched as part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims for three-quarters of the UAE’s total power output to be from clean energy sources by 2050.
Attaurrahman Ojindaram Saibasan, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The largest source of clean energy opportunities are expected to emerge from the renewables sector, especially solar. Conditions in the UAE are ideal for solar power generation, and the government is assigning large swathes of barren land for solar parks (both photovoltaic [PV] and Concentrated Solar Power [CSP]), which will help satisfy local demand as well as meet export requirements.”
If the planned solar parks go ahead, critical challenges for the solar technology could include excessive heat impacting module efficiency, as well as the damage that could be inflicted upon the solar panels and mirrors due to the dust and sand. This would increase the cost of maintenance of the solar PV plants.
Saibasan adds: “The country has several support mechanisms such as smart Dubai initiatives, net metering, and auctions. The UAE aims to generate 50% of its electricity from carbon-free sources, driven mainly by solar PV, by 2050. Abu Dhabi plans to install 5.6 GW of solar PV capacity by 2026 and Dubai aims to source 75% of its electricity generation from renewables by 2050. These targets are expected to aid the rapid deployment of renewable power plants in the country.”
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