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The UAE completes its first wind project ahead of COP28

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially completed its first commercial-sized wind project – and controversy has surfaced about its fossil fuel side deals ahead of COP28. 

The UAE Wind Program

The 117.5-megawatt (MW) “UAE Wind Program” project, inaugurated in early October, spans four locations. It includes 103.5 MW of wind and 14 MW of solar in total: Sir Bani Yas Island in Abu Dhabi (45 MW plus 14 MW of solar, pictured above); Delma Island (27 MW); Al Sila in Abu Dhabi (27 MW); and Al Halah in Fujairah (4.5 MW).

The state-owned renewable energy firm, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), owns the UAE Wind Program. It was constructed by China’s state-owned Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina), which announced the project’s completion today, and Beijing-based global wind turbine maker GoldWind.

Masdar says the UAE Wind Program can power more than 23,000 homes annually.

Electrek’s Take

There are six degrees of separation between COP28 and the UAE Wind Program:

Sultan Al Jaber is the incoming UN climate change conference COP28 president. He chairs Masdar and was its founding chief executive.

Jaber is also the CEO of the UAE’s state oil company, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company – the world’s 12th-biggest oil company by production. An oil CEO heading up COP28 is rightly sticking in the craws of many COP28 attendees and climate change groups. The UAE doesn’t think this is a conflict of interest because it takes an all-of-the-above approach to energy.

In fact, the BBC reported today that it’s obtained leaked documents that indicate that the UAE “planned to use its role as the host of UN climate talks as an opportunity to strike oil and gas deals” with 15 countries – and the UAE team didn’t deny it.

The BBC also writes that the “briefings show the UAE also prepared talking points on commercial opportunities for its state renewable energy company, Masdar, ahead of meetings with 20 countries.” (To state the obvious, the “impartial” COP28 host shouldn’t be doing side deals at all.)

As I noted on November 17, “The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 targets an energy mix of 44% clean energy, 38% gas, 12% “clean coal” (yes, it really says that), and 6% nuclear.” Despite the presence of 50% fossil fuels, it says it will become carbon neutral by 2050.

But Dalal Matar Al Shamsi, a natural resources specialist in the geology department of United Arab Emirates University, told Reuters in October that “today, the UAE is working on several fronts; nuclear energy, solar energy and now wind. So if we took all of this into consideration, we expect promising results by 2071, the UAE’s centennial.”

Net zero by 2071. Go UAE. Let’s hope Jaber aims higher for the rest of the world than he does for his own country.

Read more: The world’s largest single-site solar farm just came online

Photo: UAE Wind Program


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