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Dubai’s green drive gains steam

When the long-term national initiative Green Economy for Sustainable Development was launched in January 2012 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the aim was clear: for the UAE to become a world leader in sustainability and a centre for the export and re-export of green products and technologies in order to maintain a sustainable environment to support long-term economic growth.

Over a year later, as Dubai gears up to host the second session of the Dubai Global Energy Forum, it is clear that the transition to sustainability is already well underway and gathering real momentum.

Dubai has already begun to drive the transition to alternative sources of energy. It is the first city in the world to have established a governing body, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, with oversight of the entire energy sector, both the production and the demand side.

Furthermore, the Supreme Council is the body tasked with overseeing the implementation of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, which outlines plans to ensure that the emirate will be able to draw on a diverse and more sustainable energy mix by the year 2030, with a resource make-up consisting of five per cent from solar, 12 per cent from nuclear, 12 per cent from clean coal and the remaining 71 per cent from gas.

One source of renewable energy that Dubai is already taking advantage of is solar power. The Gulf region receives some of the highest levels of solar irradiation in the world. If properly harnessed, it is estimated that this solar energy can generate anywhere from 1,460kWh to 3,000kWh per square metre annually.

The abundance of uninhabited deserts also means that the potential to build vast solar plants is great. In the emirate of Dubai, work has already begun on the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, with the first phase — a 13MW photovoltaic array — scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. When finalised, the park will feed 1,000MW of electricity into Dubai’s grid.

Yet sustainability in Dubai goes beyond solely adopting new clean sources of energy; the emirate is also leading efforts to promote sustainable urban living. A key pillar of the Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative is entitled Green City, where urban planning policies are put in place that aim to preserve the environment, raise the efficiency of buildings both old and new, and promote environmentally friendly transportation. The Dubai Metro is a prime example of these plans being successfully executed. Officially inaugurated in September 2009, the Metro now sees a ridership of over 180,000 passengers a day and has simultaneously reduced both traffic congestion and air pollution.

The emirate is also taking important strides to increase building efficiency; from next year it will be mandatory for all new constructions to comply with Dubai’s green building regulations. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has already shown the wider community how it can be done with its new Sustainable Building, opened on February 19. The largest government building in the world to have secured a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum rating for green buildings, it boasts a wide array of environmentally friendly features — including an on-site 660kW solar power plant — that have enabled the building to reduce its consumption of water by 48 per cent and its energy consumption by an impressive 66 per cent. It is a landmark project that signals Dubai’s growing commitment to sustainability.

Dubai has shown its genuine commitment to embracing the transition to sustainable development locally, and is now looking forward to help do the same at the global level.

The Dubai Global Energy Forum will run from April 15-17 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.



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