This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 4/23/2018


The U.A.E. has one of the highest sun exposure rates in the world, giving it a high potential for renewable energy development.  With a large oil and gas reserves, the nation used to disincentive the adoption of renewable energy technologies.  However, economic diversification from an oil-based economy, rapid industrialization, growing population, and increasing demand from water desalination facilities have led to an increasing demand for energy.

As of January 2017, the U.A.E. has set an Energy Plan for 2050 to balance between production and consumption of energy. The strategy will diversify the energy mix as it will include clean coal, gas, nuclear energy, solar and wind power, and biofuels.  The energy equation targeted by the plan is as follows: 44 percent clean energy, 38 percent gas, 12 percent clean coal and 6 percent nuclear.

Growing solar capacity will dominate the government's renewable energy drive, while investment in nuclear will help to reduce the market's dependency on gas for electricity generation. 

The Clean Energy Strategy 2050, launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Ruler of Dubai, foresees to provide 7 percent of Dubai’s total power output from clean energy sources by 2020, 25 percent by 2030, and 75 percent by 2050.

In its The State of the Future report, released at Davos in January 2017, the U.A.E. predicted, “Nearly 20 percent of households in the world will run on solar power, 90 percent of vehicles on road will be electric, self-driving cars by 2035 and the first Hyperloop will be ready by 2020.”

In February 2017, U.S. electric car maker Tesla opened for business in Dubai with plans to launch a shop and service center in Abu Dhabi next year.  Company CEO Elon Musk noted, “The company planned to invest millions in the U.A.E. on infrastructure including recharging stations.”

The country has been at the forefront of the developing renewable energy in the MENA region. This is reflected by the following milestones: the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company Masdar and the first carbon-neutral zero waste city Masdar City in 2006, the hosting of the annual World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi since 2008, the establishment of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) in 2009, the International Renewable Energy (IRENA)’s designation of Abu Dhabi as its headquarters in 2009 and relocating to Masdar City campus in 2015, and the development of strategic mega solar projects. 

In July 2016, the achievement of Solar Impulse 2 (the only airplane of perpetual endurance able to fly day and night on solar power) was a symbol of Masdar’s accomplishment and capability of creating and efficiently using renewable energy.


Leading Sub-Sectors

The U.A.E. has announced plans to invest $163bn in projects in a bid to generate almost half the country's power needs from renewable sources, including Solar, Geothermal, Nuclear, and Waste-to-Energy


The U.A.E. has established itself as a key solar market over the past couple of years and will continue to show leadership in 2017, in particular in Dubai with the start of construction of Phase III and in Abu Dhabi with the award of Sweihan solar power plant.

The Dubai Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is a major part of the Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative, launched by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to build a green economy in the U.A.E and to meet 25 percent of the country’s total electricity demand from clean energy sources.

After a landmark Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of only 5.85 cents per kilowatt-hour was signed in 2014 for the second phase, 2016 saw Phase III awarded with 800 megawatts for delivery over three phases until 2020 at 2.99 US$ cents per kWh. The final size of the park in 2030 was also upped from 1 GW originally to 3 gigawatts in early 2015, and to 5 gigawatts by the end of 2015.  Based on the latter figure, the solar park will be the largest of its kind in the world.

The Solar Park is expected to host an Innovation Center and a Research and Development Center by 2017.  After its completion, the Innovation Center will hold a permanent convention center for conferences, business meetings, training, and events related to solar and renewable energy.  It will act as a museum and exhibition center on renewable energy by hosting interactive shows and educational tours for visitors.

As part of Dubai Clean Energy Strategy to generate 75 percent of Dubai's power from clean energy by 2050, Dubai will build the largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project on a single site in the world, which is expected to begin power generation within the next five years. The new CSP project, will deliver inexpensive power at less than 8 US cents per kilowatt-hour as it is generated from the site to be located at the existing Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The benefit of using concentrated solar power is that it can be stored for 8 to 12 hours after generation, which can help power the emirate through the night. The first phase of the new CSP project should be operational by 2021.

When completed, the CSP and Solar Park are expected to slash carbon emissions in Dubai by more than 6.5 million tons of harmful CO2, helping Dubai and the U.A.E. meets its commitment to the Paris Agreement to keep global warming temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius this century.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced plans to pilot multiple 1megawatt battery photovoltaic (PV) projects to study the reliability and cost effectiveness of the technology.

In 2016, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) has tendered out its first utility scale PV project: a minimum 350 MW Sweihan solar power plant.  Given the evaluation formula in the tender documents, bidders were encouraged to maximize the utilization of the site and offer proposals with higher capacity.  As per the bid read-out information, bidders submitted proposals with capacities of above 1 GW.

Shams 1 opened in March 2013 as the world’s largest concentrating solar power (CSP) plant.  The project was developed largely on the basis of ADWEA’s independent power project model for conventional power, by the Shams Power Company, a subsidiary of Masdar.  It is a 100-megawatt facility with 258,048 mirrors covering an area of 2.5 square kilometers.  In 2014, Shams 1 produced 210 gigawatt hours, enough electricity to power 20,000 homes and to supply 0.5 percent of all electricity in Abu Dhabi.  The plant will displace approximately 175,000 tons of CO2 per year.  Masdar has a 60 percent stake in the plant while the French company Total and the Spanish firm Abengoa each have a 20 percent stake.  No official decision has been announced regarding the construction of Shams 2 or Shams 3, as the Abu Dhabi government’s original plan had intended. Shams 2 and 3 are undergoing feasibility studies whereby the government is analyzing the practicability of their construction.

On 28 February 2017, ADWEA signed a PPA with Marubeni Corporation and Jinko Solar to develop the world’s largest photovoltaic solar plant, with a capacity of 1,177MW.  Exceeding its intended capacity at 350MW, the project is also set to bring the world’s cheapest PV solar power at 2.42 $c/kWh.


Geothermal energy is the thermal energy generated and stored in the earth, and it is known as a clean and sustainable form of energy.

In July 2016, DEWA requested proposals for an early-stage feasibility study on geothermal energy and its use in domestic power generation, especially for water desalination.  The DEWA study is also expected to assess the potential for tidal and ocean currents in the Arabian Gulf to be used as a source for power generation.

Masdar is also evaluating geothermal energy as a possible power source for district cooling.  With geothermal wells already sunk to a depth of 2,500 meters within the ground of Masdar City, the research initiative is the first of its type in the Middle East and may be converted into a full-fledged demonstration project.


The U.A.E. government has taken deliberate steps, in close consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to develop a civil nuclear power program, and is currently building its first four nuclear reactors at a site called Barakah.  By 2020, 12 percent of Dubai’s electricity supply capacity is expected to be nuclear.  The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) led a consortium to design the Barakah plant, which includes four APR-1400 reactors to be built at Barakah site with a total of 4 GWe by 2020.  The first reactor is scheduled to commence operations in late 2017, and the fourth by 2020. The original plan included building another four reactors, but the tender date is not yet known.

U.A.E. Nuclear Industry Structure:

Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR):  Established in 2009 as the regulatory body for the nuclear sector in the U.A.E. in accordance with Federal Law by Decree No 6 of 2009, Concerning the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, which was issued by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan President of the U.A.E.

Emirates Nuclear Energy Company (ENEC):  Established in 2009, ENEC is responsible for the design, construction and ownership of the U.A.E.’s first nuclear energy plant. Its mission includes coordination with the educational sector in the U.A.E. to develop U.A.E. human resource capacity needed to operate the nuclear energy program.  ENEC also serves as the investment arm of the Government of Abu Dhabi, making strategic investments in the nuclear sector, both domestically and internationally.  ENEC and KEPCO) launched Barakah One Company as the entity mandated to manage the commercial interests of the Barakah project, secure project finance from institutional and commercial leaders and receive funds for the electricity generated at Barakah’s four units.

NAWAH:  Formally established as a subsidiary of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) in 2016, and mandated to operate and maintain the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, NAWAH is a multinational, multicultural and Emirati-led company.

Despite losing the bid for the Barakah plant to the Korea consortium, U.S. companies have had a high level of involvement in the U.A.E. nuclear energy program. This promises to remain the case for years to come, especially if U.A.E. builds additional plants.  A favorable economic and financial environment, as well as the presence of a 123 Agreement, makes the U.A.E. a highly desirable market for U.S. exports.  The chief obstacle is heavy foreign competition.

ENEC awarded six contracts related to the supply of natural uranium concentrates, conversion and enrichment services individually, and the purchase of some enriched uranium product.  A spread of suppliers is involved for each stage of the front-end fuel cycle. The company estimates the contracts are worth some $3 billion and will enable the Barakah plant to generate up to 450 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity over a 15-year period from 2017.  The contracts involve Canada-based Uranium One, UK-based Rio Tinto, France's Areva and Russia's Techsnabexport (Tenex) for supply of uranium concentrates.  For conversion services, contracts utilize the USA's Converdyn, Tenex and Areva. Enrichment will be by Europe-based Urenco, Areva and Tenex. Areva said that its contract involved supply of enriched uranium worth some $500 million, and Tenex claimed to have secured half of the supply.

In October of 2016, ENEC and KEPCO signed a joint venture agreement establishing a long-term partnership, including the set-up of Barakah One PJSC, an independent subsidiary owned by both companies, to represent the commercial and financial interests of the nuclear power plant project. The agreement entitles KEPCO to an 18 percent stake in ENEC’s subsidiary, NAWAH.

To promote the development of nuclear power, the U.A.E. government has offered joint-venture arrangements to investors for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants. The structures will be 60 percent owned by the government and 40 percent owned by partners.


Waste-to-energy is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the primary treatment of waste.  Masdar signed a strategic partnership agreement with Sharjah’s municipal waste management company Beeah to develop the U.A.E.'s waste to energy (WtE) sector. This partnership will help contribute to the U.A.E. Government's Vision 2021 which targets, among other goals, diverting waste from landfills by 75 per cent by 2021.
A 100 megawatt facility, one of the world's largest, is under development in  Abu Dhabi by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC Taqa, in coordination with the Center of Waste Management (Tadweer). The plant would be up and running by 2017, generating enough power for 20,000 households in Abu Dhabi as well as cutting greenhouse gases.  It is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by more than one million ton per year.  The project will be set near the Mussafah Sea Port, and it will be one of the biggest waste-to-energy facilities in the world, stretching across an area of 100,000 square meters.

By the second quarter of 2020, Dubai is expected to have the largest plant in the Middle East to convert waste to energy. The plant will be located in Al Warsan 2 and will be built at a cost of AED 2 billion.  The project is in line with Dubai Municipality's vision to make Dubai the most sustainable and smart city by 2021, which will in turn achieve National Agenda's objectives for a 75 per cent reduction in the number of landfills by 2021.  This will provide more land plots that are currently being used to store waste, in addition to protecting the environment from methane emitted by landfills. The plant will begin its operations by the second quarter of 2020, and that it will be able to process 2,000 metric tons every day during the first phase of operations, producing 60 megawatts of energy.

In October 2011, Sharjah announced an ambitious plan for 100 per cent landfill diversion by 2015.  To attain this goal, Bee'ah developed a state-of-the-art waste management center to process and recycle waste.  In 2012, the company introduced two-stream waste collection and a new tipping fee structure to incentivize waste reduction and to closely regulate landfill contents. Improved blue and green colored odor-proof bins have been deployed across the emirate. In addition, Sharjah is constructing a Waste-to-Energy (WtE) plant in in Sajja area that will eventually convert 400,000 tons of waste per year into 80 megawatts of electricity. The project will convert 99 per cent of organic waste into energy. After using some of the generated power for the plant's own needs, the electricity will be exported to Sharjah.
A 2-megawatt facility is operational in Ras Al Khaimah.



The U.A.E. is a promising renewables market.  There is strong government support for the industry, pressing need to meet energy demands while conserving natural gas reserves, favorable climatic and geographical conditions, and the growing cost-competitiveness of clean energy.  There is a trend towards increased participation of the private sector in the U.A.E.’s energy sector. 

The Ministry of Energy announced in 2015 that the country’s investment in solar and nuclear energy will reach $35 billion by 2021. The boost will provide opportunities for contracts in designing and construction of infrastructure, provision of technology, training, consulting and legal services.
A significant portion of Abu Dhabi’s existing electricity and water production capacity was installed by private developers.  In most public private partnership projects, ADWEA retains a 60 percent ownership and remains the single buyer of power and water.  Stimulating corporate demand for renewable power in the U.A.E. is a challenge, but the increasing adoption of solar power technologies indicates growing interest from the private sector.

Last year, Abu Dhabi announced plans to develop an energy policy that would establish subsidies for renewable power, but it is still yet to materialize. 

Note: In European jurisdictions the cost of funding such subsidies is borne by consumers. In comparison, grid operators across the GCC are constrained by legislative obligations to purchase power for the lowest price available from generators.
The implementation of a regulatory regime providing for a fixed feed-in tariff will necessitate considerable time and cost in reviewing and amending energy legislation in the U.A.E.  In addition, the introduction of a feed-in tariff runs other risks.  If the electricity price is too low then developers will not build renewables projects and the government is in danger of not meeting its energy demands.  If on the other hand the tariff is too high, developers will overbuild, putting a strain on government resources. This raises particular issues for GCC countries, where electricity consumers have benefited from long term heavily subsidized electricity prices, and accordingly transferring the burden to consumers in the form of higher electricity prices is not politically feasible. 

Nevertheless, Abu Dhabi does have an established track record in bringing projects - in particular IWPPs - to market, with its power (and water) procurement model being recognized as the most bankable model in the GCC region. A program for the delivery of energy from renewables sources based on the existing IWPP model used for the procurement of power and water with an individually negotiated green tariff payable may constitute a sustainable and appropriate strategy for a country wishing to development a significant (if not large-scale) renewable energy program.

Small-scale deployment in the solar rooftop market is a promising area because it has a lower investment threshold and generates power using unused rooftop space. Abu Dhabi has launched a government-sponsored financial incentive program in the form of a solar rooftop plan designed to make the use of solar photovoltaic technology on rooftops more affordable to Abu Dhabi building owners.  This project is led by Masdar and the Abu Dhabi electric utility ADWEA. The program aims at achieving 500 megawatt PV on rooftops within 20 years.

Opportunities exist in the replacement of diesel generators in off-grid settings. At a currently deployed capacity of 5 megawatts, this market has the potential to generate more than 500 megawatts of energy in the U.A.E.  For small-scale projects, auctions can be implemented along with feed-in tariffs and net-metering.  The success of net metering relies on favorable financing conditions to lower the upfront costs of installing the systems and on U.A.E. electricity tariffs.
Opportunities also exist for U.S. companies in new desalination technologies, innovative advanced cooling for buildings, innovative and coating on PV panels.

Trade Shows & Exhibitions

InterSolar Middle East 2017
Date: September 26-27, 2017
Venue: Conrad Dubai
Intersolar Middle East, formerly called GulfSol, will showcase the latest solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) technologies. The exhibition will host panel discussions and seminars that will help businesses to capitalize on the Middle East’s $155 billion solar industry.  In the upcoming conference, over 70 exhibitors are expected to display innovative solar technologies and to share information and strategies about technological trends, market developments, sustainable business models, and financing solutions.

Water Energy Technology Environment Exhibition (WETEX)
Date: October 23-25, 2017
Venue: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center
In line with the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Ruler of Dubai, and under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and President of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), DEWA organised the 18th Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) from 4-6 October 2016, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The exhibition has established itself as one of the largest exhibitions of its kind worldwide as 1,900 exhibitors from 46 countries participated in the event. WETEX serves as a global platform for exhibitors to show the latest technologies, raise corporate profiles and promote products and services while sharing ideas and best practices with the world’s leading players in water, energy, and environment. 

World Green Economy Summit (WGES)
Date: October 24-25, 2017
Venue: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center
Hosted by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the WGES welcomes delegates from 60 countries to explore paths toward a sustainable economy using best environmental and business practices and invites participants to discuss and plan the global shift to a greener economy. The theme for this year’s two days of intense plenary sessions and workshop driven discussions will be ‘Driving the Green Global Economy.’

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week
Date: 13-18 January, 2018
Venue: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is aglobal gathering that unites leaders, policy makers, and investors to address challenges and celebrate achievements in sustainable development and renewable energy. ADSW is the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East and a significant forum for stimulating international dialogue and action. The annual event features established gatherings like the General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency, the awards ceremony for the Zayed Future Energy Prize, and the World Future Energy Summit.

World Future Energy Summit 2017
Date: January 15-18, 2018
Venue: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center 
World Future Energy Summit (WFES) is the world’s leading global exhibition dedicated to advancing future energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. WFES brings together over 30,000 visitors from 175 countries attracting government leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders. It is the perfect opportunity to network and source products from 639 exhibiting companies from 30 countries and uncover the latest advances in future energy.

Web Resources

BMI Research
Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA)
Dubai Carbon Center of Excellence
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)
Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE)
Ministry of Energy
State of the Future Report

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