COVID-19’s Impact on Renewable Energy in the United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

During these strange times, a virus has shown us that some aspects could alter our lives that aren’t foreseen ahead of times, thus impacting various sectors in the world.


Our land is blessed with natural energy recourses, such as fossil fuel and our abundance of sunshine, however, thanks to our visionary leadership in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for prioritizing sustainability and economic diversification, we have been prepared on our diversified energy mix that includes clean energy.


But what does this mean for the energy sector, especially renewable energy in the UAE?


Global solar and wind industries are already witnessing logistical delays. Covid-19 is expected to delay project development and would impact renewable auctions. The most significant short-term impacts on renewable plants that are already contracted or under construction may be witnessed through supply chains. [1]


After the re-opening of businesses post-lockdown, another analysis reveals that cheaper oil prices could be luring to consume rather than investing in renewable energy. China’s supply and production of solar technologies is also affected due to the shutdown of business as an impact of the pandemic. [2] Seeing this from a positive perspective and a good way to utilize the government’s economic incentives, it might be the time to encourage local production of clean energy technologies in the UAE.


It is also worthy of mentioning the importance of the active role of the private sector. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority(DEWA) had launched a project to install solar photovoltaic panels on the rooftop of villas in Dubai. Within 45 days, Sharaf DG Energy had executed the project from mechanical installation to the completion and energization. [3]
Enerwhere, a Dubai-based solar solutions provider, has also set up the UAE’s first floating solar power array off the resort island of Zaya Nurai  access up to 8 percent of their energy needs from the sun. The hotel resort states on its website that solar electricity from rooftop and ground-mounted PV systems already covers 35% of the man-made island’s energy consumption. The rest comes from efficient electronic fuel injection diesel generators. [4]


Our local solar projects are also active during the pandemic. In a special coverage reported by Emirates News Agency WAM, Shams, one of the largest concentrated solar power plants, continues to make a significant contribution toward the UAE’s energy transition. As part of its commitment to the community, Shams Power Company will soon be launching the Al Dhafrah Innovation Center, the region’s first interactive hub for knowledge about renewable energy, sustainable development, the UAE’s clean energy projects in general, and Shams Power Company in particular. [5]


In short, low oil prices might seem encouraging for businesses to utilize it over renewables, funding and logistical supply of clean energy technologies might slow down during this pandemic, however, it’s the time to establish and encourage local production and research of clean energy technologies as well as craft emergency plans dependent on a diversified energy mix that includes renewables.


References:

[1] https://www.power-technology.com/comment/covid-19-outbreak-impact-fossil-fuel/
[2]: https://gulfnews.com/business/analysis/covid-19-good-can-also-come-out-of-a-global-scourge-1.70954575
[3]: https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/business/story/Sharaf_DG_Energy_installs_solar_panels_at_500_Dubai_villas-SNG_171507993/
[4]: https://renewablesnow.com/news/uaes-1st-floating-pv-array-to-go-live-near-abu-dhabi-resort-island-687285/
[5]: https://wam.ae/en/details/1395302834925

Fatima Alfalasi
Sustainability engineer


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