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UAE: Increase the share of clean energy generation to 50% by 2050

The UAE has made significant breakthroughs in renewable energy installations in recent years, with the overall goal of increasing its market share of clean energy generation to 50% of the total power engineering mix by 2050. At this stage, the UAE is one of the fastest growing markets for utility-scale renewable energy sales in South America and North Africa, assembling approximately 2GW of renewable energy generation per year. However, the UAE still faces some tests in achieving its overall target level.

A 2MW PV carport installed between the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority head office and Dubai Government House

Romain Riche, head of global development at the Middle East Photovoltaic Industry Study Association (MESIA), commented: "Over the past three years, key PV real estate developers have experienced delays in the delivery of solar modules because of soaring PV module prices, causing delays in the deployment of flagship PV projects in the region. Because of this ordeal, by the end of 2022, the total installed PV system capacity in the UAE will only be 3.5GW, but with the successful completion of medium and large PV projects in Abu Dhabi (1500MW Al Dhafrah PV project) and Dubai (MBR PV Industrial Park Phase 4 Phase 5, with installed capacity of 950MW and 900MW respectively), the total installed PV system capacity in the UAE The installed capacity of photovoltaic systems will soon do 6GW.

With plans such as the Dubai Green Energy Development Strategy 2050, which aims to drive Dubai's installed market share of clean energy generation to over 75%, and the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, the UAE has set new targets for the development of PV technology. COP28), a new progress could be announced. The Emirates Water and Electricity Corporation (EWEC) will execute a tender for the assembly of 1,500 MW of photovoltaic systems in Abu Dhabi this year. In addition, Dubai has chosen to achieve a 14% market share of clean energy generation, and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has long opened the sixth phase of its tender for medium and large PV projects, with plans to assemble 1,800 MW of PV systems.

In the distributed PV industry, although its net metering verification of the current policy in Dubai is very popular, but the overall trend is still relatively limited. To achieve the ambitious blueprint of the UAE's energy strategy by 2050, which means that by 2050 the market share of clean energy generation to 44%, it is necessary to accelerate the construction and update the current policy.

The rapid growth of the photovoltaic industry in the UAE is also hampered by a number of factors, including legal and regulatory challenges, asset constraints, and grid integration limitations. One of these challenges is the lack of strict regulation of the UAE distributed power sales market outside of the Emirate of Dubai.

However, in November 2021, the UAE announced plans to regulate the commissioning of distributed system renewable energy projects in each of the seven emirates under a federal law. This is expected to boost the distributed system renewable energy industry to a large extent in the near future, and once the policy is in place, it is estimated that 400 to 500 MW of renewable energy will be added each year, so the current annual increase will be 60 to 100 MW. This will be a significant leap forward for the UAE distributed system renewable energy sales market.

In the utility scale industry, the installation of new projects of distributed system renewable energy is mainly reflected in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This convergence of utility scale projects has contributed to the inability of local real estate developers and EPC engineers to grow steadily in the local utility scale industry.

Despite this test, international renewable energy organizations predict that by 2030, the UAE may have 25% of its electricity projects from PV systems, and by 2050, the total installed capacity of PV systems is expected to exceed 44GW, which may be very close to the target set by the host country. Therefore, the UAE needs to make further efforts to implement laws, regulations and plans to promote the rapid development of the photovoltaic industry to achieve this goal.

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