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Series: The growth of UAE green tech – Part 2: Renewable energy technology

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As the world battles the huge challenge of carbon reduction, there is an urgent need to move towards renewable energies to replace fossil fuels. Because while the COVID-19 pandemic may have brought about a slight drop in emissions, this has only been a temporary reprieve.

In the UAE, renewables already account for around 30% of total power production, but its ambitions do not stop there. In 2017, the government launched its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’, through which it aims to increase the total contribution of clean energy to 50% by 2050 and reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70%. Through this, it will be employing a mixture of renewable energy sources including solar, wind power, waste to energy and nuclear.

This means heavy investment in green technology, which is great news for entrepreneurs. We hear so much about the potential of the fourth industrial revolution; in the future, if the world is to meet its emission reduction targets, this potential must be geared towards renewables. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data will be at the forefront of this drive for change.  

So where are the opportunities for green entrepreneurs to make their mark in the UAE? Right now, we know that the renewable power sources exist; the future of the green energy revolution therefore depends upon the development of technologies to ensure an efficient supply. For example:

  • Weather modelling: Renewable energy sources are not steady and predictable in the same way that fossil fuels are. So in order to avoid disruptive surges and lulls, energy providers need to find ways to make the output more predictable.  Machine learning technology can be used to model weather patterns, while big data can be used to predict weather patterns using historical records.
  • Gauging demand: A successful renewables strategy needs not just the power generation itself, but an efficient supply system. For this, providers need to be able to forecast user demand with a high degree of accuracy. Artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions can be employed to model the energy profiles of homes and forecast both energy demand and supply.
  • Streamlining operations: The growing number of solar and wind farms across the UAE – and globally – is heartening to see. But of course, the bigger these become, the more complex it becomes to manage and maintain them. In the future, renewable power companies will likely come to rely more and more on big data analytics to analyse potential issues and streamline their processes. Ultimately, this will create a more efficient power supply for everyone.

There is huge demand for these kinds of technologies to power the UAE’s green revolution. To give one very prominent example: the Masdar City Initiative was established to make Abu Dhabi the ‘benchmark for knowledge and collaboration in the advancement of renewable energy’. It has been developing some of the world’s largest solar and wind energy projects; indeed, its Shams 1 solar plant produces around 7% of the total power needs of Abu Dhabi.

Masdar City is home to many companies focused on sustainable development. One example is the Swedish company Azelio, which is working to harness and store the sun’s thermal energy for conversion to electricity.

It’s a bold move for one of the world’s biggest sources of fossil fuels to embark upon this green energy transition. But this vision and determination makes the UAE the perfect place for green energy entrepreneurs to invest their talents in the years to come. 

Elsewhere, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park was established to help Dubai meet its target of meeting 75% of its power needs from clean energy by 2050. The largest single-site solar park in the world, this clean energy powerhouse is expected to save over 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually upon completion.

And that wraps up our second in our four-part series on green tech. To stay up to date on all our content, do check out our blog at