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Egypt will host COP27 and UAE will host COP28 conferences and with this clean energy initiatives will accelerate in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions.
“The Middle East remains a very important provider of fossil fuel energy to the world and will also engage [globally] on any energy transition efforts which support sustainability and a better future for the next generations. Middle East countries are very rich in renewable resources, [including] solar and wind. Hence, more worldwide clean energy demand and deployment will enable further demand of projects in the Middle East,” says Ahmad Nada, President of the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA).
The kingdom has played an important role in producing renewable energy; countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and UAE generate solar and wind energy. Green hydrogen will be a growing focus as an alternative fuel for the world and more countries will invest in it in the coming years.
Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Deputy Principal (Global Sustainability) and Director of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS) at Heriot-Watt University Dubai said, “The Middle East is already in the process of transitioning to the use of sustainable energies.”
UAE was the first MENA nation to set clean energy targets and ratify the Paris Agreement. “Hosting COP28 will lay the groundwork for the country’s ‘Net-Zero by 2050’ strategic initiative. By hosting COP27 and COP28, the Arab world will accelerate the use of climate-smart solutions to drive environmental sustainability,” she adds.
Climate summits will have a good effect on reducing carbon emissions and sustainable energy with UAE to have a total energy mix between 25-50% by 2050, and Saudi Arabia to produce 50% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.
“We expect that COP27 and COP28 will result in various decisions and agreements that will further accelerate the transition to clean energy. For example – a landmark deal was announced at COP26 to end international public financing for fossil fuels, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement,” notes Maroto-Valer.
Egypt as of now does not have any set target for net-zero emissions but the country plans to increase electricity generated from renewables to 20% by the end of this year and 42% by 2035. The country also aims to have a 3.5 GW solar energy capacity by 2027 with various projects.
She adds, “With an abundance of land, sunny weather, and high wind speeds, Egypt is a prime location for renewable energy projects. All these efforts, in conjunction with the expectation that the next location of the COP should be in Africa, have resulted in Egypt earning the right as host for COP27.”
The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 targets to generate 75% of energy from clean energy sources by 2050. Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040 of Norther Emirate Ras Al Khaimah to generate 20% of energy from renewables by 2040.
“Overall, the UAE government aims to invest AED600 billion by 2050 to meet the growing energy demand and ensure sustainable growth for the country’s economy. With these very tangible steps taken, the UAE has also clearly earned the right to host COP28.”
“To truly transition towards sustainable energy and emission reduction, governments in the region must continue to expedite investments in renewables, including solar and waste-to-energy. A good example of a project that uses energy for environmental protection is Al Reyadah, a joint venture between ADNOC and Masdar. As the world’s first fully commercial carbon dioxide facility, it captures CO2, compresses and dehydrates it, and injects it into oil fields to boost oil recovery.”
Deepa Sud, Executive Director, Dubai, of SunMoney Solar Group, a member of the United Nations Global Compact said, “The significance of transitioning the Middle East and North Africa towards clean energy and emission reduction creates an abundance of economic and job opportunities, which can only continue to strengthen the region.”
“Currently, almost all MENA countries’ generation is predominantly state-owned and state owned-utilities remain the only offtake and can mostly impact major decisions. As this role eases and free energy trade laws are introduced, further development will take place to enhance the region as a net exporter of clean energy to the rest of the world,” Nada concludes.
The Middle East region is on the right path of sustainability with most of the countries having clean energy laws, policies and target to achieve.