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United Arab Emirates

With a cumulative score of 1.87, the United Arab Emirates ranks number 10 among emerging markets and number 35 in the global ranking.

  • Emerging markets
  • Middle East & Africa

2.08 / 5

Power score


1.39 / 5

Transport score


 

Buildings score


Only 56 markets (28 emerging markets) are scored on the Buildings sector. See the full list on the methodology page.


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Low-carbon strategy

Net-zero goal and strategy

The UAE was the first Middle Eastern country to announce a net-zero target in October 2021 under the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative. The emissions target is only limited to carbon, despite the presence of a sizeable oil and gas industry which is likely to be a substantial source of methane emissions. The government has, however, yet to submit a long-term strategy to the UNFCCC.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)

U.A.E. last updated its NDC in December 2020. The document targets a 23.5% decrease in emissions below business-as-usual level by 2030.

Fossil fuel phase-out policy

The federal government ended fuel subsidies in 2015 when petrol prices were reset in accordance with global oil price benchmarks. This was in part a result of the global collapse in oil prices in 2014. Gas remains subsidized to the tune of $5 billion per year, however.

Power

Power policy

The United Arab Emirates’ flagship renewables target aims to achieve an electricity generation mix composed of 44% renewables, 38% gas, 12% “clean” coal and 6% nuclear. A federal target for a 24% renewables share by 2021 will not be met. The UAE’s federal structure affords each of the emirates considerable autonomy in implementing their own renewables targets, incentives and procurement schemes. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have had considerable success in running large-scale, competitive auctions to procure solar power. However, success has been varied in certain areas. Abu Dhabi has, for instance, struggled to replicate the success of Dubai’s net-metering scheme even as it has proven its ability to pull off large-scale renewables auctions.

Power policies

Renewable energy auction
Feed-in Tariff
Import tax incentives
Net Metering
Renewable energy target
VAT incentives

Power prices and costs

Developers of solar utility-scale projects benefit from excellent irradiation levels, economies of scale and low development costs. Yet rock-bottom auction prices are also made possible by implicit subsidies, such as the fact that developers need pay for neither land nor a grid connection. Headline-grabbing bids have resulted, including a near-world record of $13.50/MWh for Abu Dhabi’s last solar auction in July 2020. Moreover, state utilities retain majority stakes in all utility-scale projects, reducing the cost of debt. Renewables are increasingly able to undercut fossil-fuel generators, for which fuel subsidies were removed in 2015. However, fossil-fuel generators continue to receive indirect support in the form of subsidized retail tariffs. For instance, residential prices have remained unchanged in Dubai over much of the last decade.

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Power market

The UAE’s grid is fragmented among the various emirates, but gas remains the dominant form of power generation across the board. Representing 8% of installed capacity in 2019, renewables penetration is starting to ramp up. In the absence of a wholesale market, developers sell their power through take-or-pay contracts – their output is purchased regardless of demand. Independent power producers account for most of the commissioned capacity, although the publicly owned utilities retain a major equity share in all projects. For its part, Abu Dhabi’s state utility – which is also active in the northern emirates – has been unbundled, although Dubai’s remains vertically integrated. Both retain single-buyer status, while generation is the only sector open to private participation.

Installed Capacity (in MW)

20122014201620182020010K20K30K MW

Electricity Generation (in GWh)

20122014201620182020050K100K150K GWh
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Utility privatisation

Which segments of the power sector are open to private participation?


Generation
Transmission
Retail

Wholesale power market

Does the country have a wholesale power market?


Available
Not available

Doing business and barriers

Power demand has risen rapidly in recent decades, growing from 17GW to 23GW over 2010-20. The long-term impact of Covid-19 on demand will hinge on whether fears of a pandemic-induced expat exodus are borne out – foreign workers account for some 90% of the population. There is a lack of visibility on tenders going forward, and much of the power fleet is relatively young. A high number of power purchase agreements for combined-cycle gas plants will come to an end in 2030, but many could be extended. Meanwhile, a transition toward less power-hungry reverse osmosis plants will contribute to decoupling the water and electricity sectors.

Currency of PPAs

Are PPAs signed in or indexed to U.S. Dollars or Euro?


Available
Not available

Bilateral power contracts

Can a C&I (Commercial and Industrial) customer sign a long-term contract (PPA) for clean energy?


Available
Not available

Bilateral power contracts

Can a C&I (Commercial and Industrial) customer sign a long-term contract (PPA) for clean energy?


Available
Not available

Bilateral power contracts

Can a C&I (Commercial and Industrial) customer sign a long-term contract (PPA) for clean energy?


Available
Not available

Fossil fuel subsidies

Does the government influence the wholesale price of fossil fuel (used by thermal power plants) down through subsidies?


Available
Not available

Fossil fuel taxes

Does the government influence the wholesale price of fossil fuel (used by thermal power plants) up through taxes?


Available
Not available

Transport

EV market

The government has yet to implement any substantive policy support in this sector and the EV market remains at an early stage. One incentive is Dubai’s provision of a free Salik tag (used to pay toll fees) upon registering an EV, but drivers are still liable for booth charges. The difference this makes is minimal, as the Salik tag is provided at a cost of some $20. Dubai is funding the deployment of public EV charging infrastructure through its EV Green Charger program, but low fuel prices hurt electric mobility’s competitiveness against fossil fuel cars. The U.A.E. has implemented a fuel economy program modeled on U.S. standards, but it is far from stringent enough to encourage EV uptake.

EV policy

The government has yet to implement any substantive policy support in this sector and the EV market remains at an early stage.

Transport policies

Electric vehicle target
Electric vehicle purchase grant or loan incentive
VAT incentives for EV
Import tax incentives for EV
EV charging infrastructure target
EV charging infrastructure support

Fuel economy standards

Does the country have a fuel economy standard in place?


Available
Not available

Buildings

Buildings market

As with policy in other areas, initiatives to tackle buildings decarbonization are far from harmonized across the various emirates. Various energy efficiency plans have been rolled out across the different emirates, such as the Barjeel program in Ras al-Khaimah. Standards also vary across emirates and include Dubai's green building specifications and standards, a code that became mandatory in 2014.

Energy performance standards

Are there minimum energy performance standards for buildings?


Available
Not available

Energy efficiency plan

Does the country have a national energy efficiency plan?


Available
Not available

Buildings policy

The government has yet to implement any substantive policy support in this sector and the low-carbon heating market remains at an early stage.

Buildings policies

Low-carbon heat target/roadmap
Tax credits
Boiler scrappage schemes
Heat pumps purchase grants/loans incentive
Ban on boilers: new build homes
Ban on boilers: all homes

Additional insights
from BNEF

Explore more detailed information on global commodity markets and the disruptive technologies driving the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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