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UAE adds wind to its energy mix

Wind energy installed power in Turkey is forecast to reach 18,000 MW in 2028 Unsplash/Anna Jiménez Calaf
Wind energy installed power in Turkey is forecast to reach 18,000 MW in 2028
  • UAE’s first large-scale wind energy project
  • Four wind farms to generate 103.5MW
  • New tech to work with lower wind speeds

The UAE has inaugurated its first large-scale utility wind power project, as the Gulf state strives to boost its renewable energy capacity ahead of hosting the Cop28 climate summit later this year.

Abu Dhabi’s state clean energy company Masdar has developed four wind farms, which have a total combined capacity of 103.5MW and will power 23,000 homes.

The power plants are located in Fujairah and Abu Dhabi, including two on islands – Sir Bani Yas Island and Delma Island.

The project could displace as much as 120,000 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to removing more than 26,000 cars from the road annually – Masdar said in a statement. 

The UAE has developed its renewables mix by developing mainly solar plants, nuclear and waste-to-energy plants.

Masdar has been investing in wind power worldwide, including projects such as the London Array and the Dudgeon Offshore wind farm in the UK; the 6MW Port Victoria Wind Farm in the Seychelles; and the Tafilah Wind Farm, the Middle East’s first utility-scale wind project in Jordan, which has a capacity of 117MW.

Relatively low wind speeds in the UAE mean wind power is often not a viable energy source, so the Gulf state has focused more on solar potential.

That could be about to change. The Masdar project uses the latest technology and innovation in material science and aerodynamics to capture low wind speed at a utility-scale and adapt to local conditions.

Bigger turbine sizes, lower hardware prices, and the discovery of a unique weather phenomenon that generated high winds at night made this development scalable and economically viable.

As wind is stronger at night in the UAE, the plant will complement solar power generation.

The UAE’s installed clean energy capacity accounted for 15.6 percent of the country’s total energy mix last year, according to energy and infrastructure minister Suhail Al Mazrouei.

The country will host the UN climate conference Cop28 in less than two months. 

The UAE was the first in the region to announce a target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

It is also seeking to triple its renewables capacity by 2030, while it is ramping up its oil and gas output capacity.

Cop28 president-designate Sultan Al Jaber, who is also chairman of Masdar and the Adnoc boss, said that while phasing down of fossil fuels is inevitable, the world must also phase up the renewables.

“For a viable energy transition, the world must triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement goals,” Al Jaber said in a statement.

“As we look forward to hosting Cop28, today’s inauguration shows the UAE’s firm commitment to this target, boosting clean energy investments both at home and abroad.”

Masdar plans to double capacity this year as it seeks to have 100GW of gross capacity by 2030.

Adnoc on Thursday awarded contracts worth $27 billion for the development of the world’s largest offshore sour gas project, Hail and Ghasha fields. It will be the first in the world to operate with net-zero CO2 emissions and will integrate carbon capture and sequestration technologies.