In an era where the repercussions of fossil fuel consumption reverberate globally, the spotlight on renewable energy has never been more crucial. Our planet faces the urgent challenge of balancing energy needs with environmental preservation, and renewable energy emerges as the beacon of a sustainable future. As we witness the alarming depletion of fossil fuel reserves and grapple with the escalating environmental toll, exploring the transformative potential of renewable energy sources becomes imperative.

This article delves into the pressing reasons why promoting renewable energy is not just a choice but a necessity for the well-being of the generations to come and delves into the initiatives set up by the UAE to achieve this desired transition.

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is power from sources that won’t run out and would naturally renew over time, like sunlight, wind, moving water, and geothermal heat. Most of these energy sources are good for the environment, but some, like specific biomass sources, might only be sustainable if we use them sparingly.

Renewable energy goes beyond just making electricity; it also includes heating and cooling. While renewable energy projects are often large-scale, they can also be adjusted for use in rural, remote, and developing places where energy is crucial for community growth. When introducing renewable energy, we often expand the availability of electricity, bringing various benefits such as energy independence, job creation, and improved energy access that feed into technological advancements and make the local economy more resilient.

Types of Renewable Energy

Many renewable energy sources can be used for various purposes, such as electricity generation, heating and cooling, and transportation. Some of the most well-known ones are:

  1. Solar: Energy is derived by capturing radiant energy from sunlight and converting it into heat, electricity, or hot water. Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert direct sunlight into electricity through solar cells.
  1. Wind: Capturing wind flow energy by using turbines and converting it into electricity. Several systems are used to convert wind energy, and each varies. Commercial-grade wind-powered generating systems can power many organizations, while single-wind turbines help supplement pre-existing energy organizations. Another form is utility-scale wind farms, purchased by contract or wholesale. Technically, wind energy is a form of solar energy. The phenomenon we call “wind” is caused by the differences in temperature in the atmosphere combined with Earth’s rotation and the planet’s geography.
  1. Geothermal: Heat trapped beneath the Earth’s crust. Sometimes, large amounts of this heat escape naturally but all at once, resulting in familiar occurrences, such as volcanic eruptions and geysers. This heat can be captured and used to produce geothermal energy by using steam from the heated water pumping below the surface, which then rises to the top and can be used to operate a turbine.
  1. Biomass: Bioenergy is a renewable energy derived from biomass. Biomass is organic matter that comes from recently living plants and organisms. Using wood in your fireplace is an example of biomass that most people are familiar with. There are various methods used to generate energy through the use of biomass. This can be done by burning biomass or harnessing methane gas produced by the natural decomposition of organic materials in ponds or even landfills.

Why is renewable energy important?

Renewable energy is already playing a significant role in meeting our energy needs and reducing our environmental impact. In 2020, renewable energy sources accounted for about 20% of US electricity generation and are expected to add more than 60% of new capacity to the grid in 2024. Globally, renewable energy sources supplied about 28% of total electricity generation in 2020 and are projected to reach 90% by 2050.

However, there are still many challenges and opportunities to increase the adoption and integration of renewable energy in our energy system. Some of the key factors that will shape the future of renewable energy are:

  • Renewable energy sources, widely available globally, stand in contrast to the finite nature of fossil fuels. Efficient, affordable technology is essential to harness the potential of sunlight, wind, and tidal power.
  • Renewable energy is synonymous with sustainability, emphasizing the need for cautious use to meet current needs without compromising future generations. Most renewable sources align with sustainability principles.
  • Renewable energy boasts low greenhouse gas emissions, offering environmental advantages compared to fossil fuels. By replacing fossil fuels, renewable energy can significantly reduce emissions, potentially mitigating climate change.
  • In contrast to the once-heroic image of fossil fuels, renewable energy is acknowledged for being less polluting. Fossil fuel-related pollution poses severe health risks, while renewable energy’s lower impact can save lives.
  • Renewable energy’s widespread availability, coupled with free sources like sunlight and wind, makes it a cost-effective option. The right technology allows tapping into these sources for usable energy.
  • Renewable energy is considered more reliable than fossil fuels, which face supply limitations and disruptions. Its abundant, never-depleting nature contributes to a stable and predictable clean energy source.
  • The development and maintenance of renewable energy installations create job opportunities globally. Unlike fossil fuel imports draining foreign reserves, renewable energy investments can stimulate local economies.
  • Localized renewable energy generation minimizes energy wastage during long-distance electricity transmission. This, coupled with job creation, provides a boost to the local economy.
  • Renewable energy enhances energy resilience by offering localized control, reducing the impact of power shortages or disruptions faced by those dependent on grid power.
  • Accessible to everyone, renewable energy is a lifeline for remote locations far from the grid. In developing countries, it ensures energy access where grid lines are yet to reach.
  • As countries heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports face energy security risks, the renewable energy industry provides a pathway to ensure stability in energy supply.
  • Given the destructive impacts of excessive fossil fuel use on the planet, renewable energy is crucial for a sustainable future. Climate change consequences, such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events, highlight the urgent need for a shift to renewable energy sources.

Renewable Energy Initiatives in UAE

The need for a swift transition to renewable energy is more urgent than ever. Climate change, driven by coal, oil, and gas burning, is already wreaking havoc on communities, economies, and ecosystems worldwide. The quickest and most effective way of driving down greenhouse gas emissions and giving ourselves the best chance of fighting climate change is by moving to an energy system based on renewables and storage.

Renewable energy has become economically attractive in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ramping up renewables to 10% of the country’s total energy mix and 25% of total power generation could generate annual savings of USD 1.9 billion by 2030 by avoiding fossil-fuel consumption and lower energy costs. With health and environmental benefits factored in, the transition to renewables could generate additional net annual savings of USD 1 billion to as much as USD 3.7 billion by 2030. The analysis of the UAE’s renewable energy prospects comes as part of REmap 2030, IRENA’s roadmap for doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

Since 2010, rising natural gas prices in the UAE have mainly combined with rapidly falling technology costs for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. This has made renewables a competitive option for power generation in the UAE – an oil exporter but increasingly an importer of natural gas. Wind power and waste-to-energy conversion have also become economical, with natural gas prices above USD 8 per million British thermal units (mBtu). These recent developments create financial reasons for the country to accelerate its renewable energy deployment beyond the existing targets in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and other emirates.

Deploying and using renewable energy solutions is one of the main pillars of the UAE’s model of addressing climate change and reducing GHG emissions. The country began financing clean energy projects more than 15 years ago and has invested over 40 billion USD in the sector to date. Current trends predict clean energy production capacity, including solar and nuclear, to reach 14 GW by 2030, up from about 100 MW in 2015 to 2.4 GW in 2020.

The UAE supports green infrastructure and clean energy projects worldwide and has invested in renewable energy ventures worth around 16.8 billion USD in 70 countries, focusing on developing nations. It has also provided more than 400 million USD in aid and soft loans for clean energy projects.

To achieve such rapid scale-up, government agencies must be empowered to take holistic, comparative views of energy costs and to follow through on such views in power-sector regulation and tendering. The Emirate of Dubai’s governance model and creating a UAE federal energy policy taskforce are critical initial steps.

Renewable energy is important for our future because it benefits our health, environment, economy, and security. Renewable energy sources are clean, abundant, and diverse, providing various options to meet our energy needs and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Renewable energy is also becoming more accessible and affordable, thanks to technological innovation and policy support. However, many barriers and challenges remain to overcome to achieve a rapid and widespread transition to renewable energy. We must continue investing in research and development, implementing effective policies and regulations, creating supportive markets and consumer demand, and fostering collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders. By doing so, we can harness the power of renewable energy to create a better future for ourselves and future generations.

 

Our Team at Alpin Limited provides consultancy services on designing renewable energy . Reach out to us at contact@alpinme.com or give us a call at +971-2-234-6198.