GREEN CITY

Dubai 2018 | GREEN ECONOMY | REVIEW

Ever the leader in innovation, Dubai has set out an ambitious green transformation plan that it hopes will make it the city with the world's smallest carbon footprint.

Always at the forefront of innovation, the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, recently partnered with the UN Development Program to launch the World Green Economy Organization (WEGO). The initiative hopes to bring together every country by creating a platform of knowledge sharing that will promote and assist countries in transitioning to a green economy. With the amount of green innovation going on in Dubai, it is fitting that the Emirate is behind this global initiative. With nearly every sector of the economy pursuing a green transformation, Dubai is becoming a hub and source for all things green.

Dubai has long been known as a city of drivers. Streets with six to eight lanes that cut through the main parts of the Emirate give the impression that cars rule the city. This is set to change, however; following a recent visit to the Roads and Transport Authority in late 2017, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a score of new transportation projects around the Emirate, including 500km of cycling tracks around the city. While the city may prove too hot in the summer for cycling, the spring, winter, and fall offer pleasant temperatures perfect for biking, allowing residents to leave their cars at home. Other new transportation projects, such as metro expansions, were introduced in the hopes of reducing the Emirate's carbon footprint and allowing for healthier air for all residents. The bike lanes are expected to be fully finished by 2021.

In further efforts to reduce the Emirate's carbon footprint, Sheikh Mohammed announced on September 16, 2017 that Dubai is planning to build the world's largest concentrated solar power plant. The project is the fourth stage of the Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Solar Park.

In March 2018, the Ruler of Dubai officially broke ground on the project, which will be based on an independent power producer model and will contain the world's largest solar tower, at 260m, with the greatest thermal energy storage capacity. Built over an area of 43sqkm, the project has seven phases. And when the final phase comes online in 2030, the facility will generate 5,000MW of power, providing energy to more than 270,000 private homes in Dubai and eliminating some 1.4 million tons of carbon emissions annually.

The solar industry is no doubt experiencing great momentum in Dubai; however, there is still some reluctance among companies to adopt solar and other green energy solutions. To get a better understanding of what it takes to raise awareness about solar, TBY met with Karel De Winter, the General Manager of Abu Dhabi-based solar solutions firm Alsa Solar Systems.

“Raising awareness is hard work as solar is still associated with high costs," De Winter said. “This was originally true; however, currently we are buying close to USD0.30 per watt, which is a massive drop in price, including the fact that solar panels prices have fallen by 50% in recent years. Solar will become the standard way of doing things. In two or three years, we will build warehouses that have solar systems from the start."
At the center of Dubai's green economy ambitions is the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, unveiled in early 2017. The strategy largely revolves around a AED100-billion investment in a Dubai Green Fund, and dictates strategies to be implemented today that will help the Emirate reach the ultimate goal of attaining 75% of its energy matrix from renewable sources by 2050. The Sheikh made the announcement with the goal of making Dubai the city with smallest carbon footprint in the world.

The strategy is made up of five pillars, which include legislation, building capacities and skills, an environmentally friendly energy mix, infrastructure, and funding. Part of the infrastructure pillar sees the construction—via 3D printing—of a comprehensive innovation center that will focus on research and development of next-generation clean energy technologies.