Rising demand for energy
The energy sector plays an important role in shaping the UAE's internal and external policies. Since the discovery of oil and gas more than half a century ago, the UAE became a central player in global hydrocarbon energy market.
The UAE is the fifth largest oil producer in OPEC, with an oil output of 2.79 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2013. In the same year, the production of natural gas amounted to around 54.60 billion cubic metres.
The demand for electricity and water continues to grow at a fast pace due to a rise in population, an expanding economy and climatic considerations.According to The UAE State of Energy Report 2015 (PDF), the share of power generation from gas will drop from 98 per cent in 2012 to less than 76 per cent in 2021 as clean energy would enter the mix and energy efficiency would intensify.
The UAE has decided to diversify its energy mix in order to sustain its progress and at the same time minimise the environmental impact that may arise from burning fuel.Therefore, it was decided that the traditional sources of energy, being oil and gas should not be the main drivers of the economic process. In addition, the UAE is developing local expertise in these important technologies and fostering international cooperation and resource conservation.
While oil and gas have historically been the dominant fuels powering the UAE's economy, the UAE's energy sector is undergoing a transformation targeting the diversification of the UAE's energy mix.
The UAE generates most of its electricity (110 billion kilowatt-hours in 2013) using natural gas-fired generation. It is planning to integrate the natural gas distribution networks of all the emirates; this should help alleviate some of the peak-demand shortfalls experienced in the past.
In 2012, the total installed capacity of electricity generation was 27.2 gigawatts (GW). To meet the rising demand in a sustainable manner, the UAE is focusing on coming up with a balanced energy mix.
Clean energy-mix in the UAE
The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 targets an energy mix that combines renewable, nuclear and clean energy sources to meet the UAE’s economic requirements and environmental goals as follows:
- 44 per cent clean energy
- 38 per cent gas
- 12 per cent clean coal
- 6 per cent nuclear.
The UAE government aims to invest AED 600 billion by 2050 to meet the growing energy demand and ensure a sustainable growth for the country’s economy.
Energy Trilemma Index
The Energy Trilemma Index ranks countries in terms of their potential ability to provide sustainable energy through the three dimensions:
- Energy security
- Energy equity
- Environmental sustainability
In 2017, the overall rank of the UAE in this index was 40 and the balance score was AAD.
The UAE scored 21 in energy security, 14 in energy equity and 116 in environmental sustainability.
Read more about the UAE's performance in Energy Trilemma Index.