View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Masdarize the Entire UAE

“Coals to Newcastle is one thing, but energy being exported to the Middle East?” That is the question asked by Keith Johnson writing for the Wall Street Journal as he reflects on a new report in the Times of London. This report looks at how the UAE and other Gulf countries are attempting to satisfy their voracious appetite for electricity.

The rush in the region to join the nuclear power club will not translate into electrical currents in our homes and factories for another decade. What’s more, contracts are soon to be finalised for the big Qatar—Abu Dhabi—Fujairah Gas pipeline but this will take time to kick in. So what will make up the shortfall? Carl Mortished of the Times says that Abu Dhabi and Dubai are turning to coal!

In most of the reports on the UAE’s long term energy planning there is a noticeable silence on the sun. The UAE White Paper that proposed (April 2008) a move to the nuclear power option was quick to discount solar power plants on the basis that they could not produce enough energy.

It is interesting, however, to see the way giant oil producer and neighbour, Saudi Arabia, has recently announced (February 2008), that it will be developing its solar power production. The country's oil minister, Ali al-Nuaimi, said:

“For a country like Saudi Arabia ... one of the most important sources of energy to look at and develop is solar energy.”

He added: “One of the research efforts that we are going to undertake is to see how we make Saudi Arabia a centre for solar energy research and hopefully over the next 30 to 50 years we will be a major megawatt exporter.”

Saudi Arabia is pursuing the wisdom of a diversified approach to electricity generation and the green, clean approach to harnessing the energy of the sun blazing down on the Arabian Peninsula has important lessons for the UAE.

The Masdar Project announced on 21 January 2008 represents a commitment of $15 billion to alternative energy sources and clean technology including solar energy.

Furthermore, on 23 March the Masdar initiative reported that it was working with a Spanish engineering company to design, build and operate concentrating solar power plants (CSP) in the world’s sun belt regions.

Dr Jaber proclaimed on 9 February 2008, “Masdar City will become the world’s hub for future energy.” He added, “By taking sustainable development and living to a new level, it will lead the world in understanding how all future cities should be built.”

It would be good to Masdarize the United Arab Emirates by applying the best creativity and technology developed in this new hub to the entire country. The transformation of the country will make for a more powerful model to its citizens and to the world than the creation of a new, small city.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: New Mexico—the largest solar power farm in the world.

Extra—Recent Articles at Fujairah in Focus

Fujairah: ‘So Much to See!’, says a journo at The National

New Steel Plant for Fujairah See what they’re making.

Fujairah Growth at Expense of Fujairah Environment