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Ahead of COP28, The UAE is keen to document its intentions

Ahead of COP28, The UAE is keen to document its intentions

Photo credit: Masdar.

By Anders Lorenzen

Some might label it as greenwashing, but the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – host of the UN climate summit, COP28 – to be held next month, is keen to show they mean business. The country, which is one of the largest oil producers in the region, is nevertheless keen to showcase that they do believe in shifting to clean energy.

The country has launched what will be its first-ever commercial wind project. They are keen, at least, to be able to claim they are boosting as well as transitioning to renewables.

But as wind projects come, this is at the smaller rather than the larger end of the scale totalling just 103.5 megawatts (MW). UAE declared that the project, which spans four different locations and will able to power 23,000 homes a year, is run by the renewable firm and project Masdar.

The company’s Chief Hydrogen Officer, Mohammad Abdelqader El-Ramahi, explained that it would displace 120,000 tons (tCO₂) of CO2 annually. It is a joint project with PowerChina and GoldWind International. Masdar added that it is innovative, as the turbines can exploit low wind speeds at scale. This is due to advances in materials, science and aerodynamics, which makes wind power production possible despite the heat and humidity.

Criticism

Masdar was last year acquired by three state-run entities, TAQA a utility, Mubadala a sovereign wealth fund, and ADNOC an oil giant. The Chief Executive of ADNOC, Sultan Al Jaber, is also the chair of Masdar. He is the incoming president of COP28 which has resulted in strong criticism from climate advocates and activists.

To put all this into context, annually, the UAE produces on average 2.9 million barrels (MBD) of crude oil. Last year the country emitted 218.8 million tons (MtCO₂) of CO2. The country has one of the highest per capita energy consumption and carbon footprints in the world.

The eyes of the world will be on UAE and will closely scrutinise whether there is really a trend towards UAE unveiling renewable energy projects, or if this small project is just a temporary showcase while the climate-conscious eyes of the world rest on the country.

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