UAE’s Masdar Puts Money Where Mouth Is – Into Clean Energy

by | Jun 6, 2023

(Credit: Pixabay)

Masdar is putting its money where its mouth is. It’s all-in on clean energy. The company, based in the United Arab Emirates, just signed a deal to develop 2 gigawatts of solar and wind projects and 500 megawatts of battery energy storage in Central Asia.

The deal is with Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Investments, Industry, and Trade. It aims to achieve 25% of its energy mix from renewables by 2030. Uzbekistan plans to reach 7 GW of solar and 5 GW of wind capacity by the decade’s end.

“The UAE is fully committed to supporting countries to decarbonize,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Chairman of Masdar, and COP28 President-Designate Uzbekistan. “The world needs to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 to reach the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. As we prepare to host COP28 in the UAE, we believe ambitious partnerships with countries like Uzbekistan are vital in helping to meet this target.”

COP28 occurs in the United Arab Emirates, a country that has earned great wealth from selling its oil and gas on world markets. But for two decades, its leaders have planned for the “last barrel of oil,” working hard to transform the economy from one centered on fossil fuels to one that is clean.

To that end, oil comprised 70% of its economy in 2009; today, it is 30% and home to global enterprises, world-class hospitals, and international tourism. It builds out wind and solar facilities while also pursuing advanced hydrogen.

For example, the UAE’s Masdar will produce hydrogen, potentially exporting to SkyNRG, Evos Amsterdam, and Zenith Energy in the Netherlands. It is also working with Egyptian-based organizations to develop green hydrogen projects. The company’s goal is 100 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity and 1 million tons of green hydrogen development annually by 2030. The country has billions invested in renewable energy projects on six continents.

“Climate change is all the world’s problem and all of society must approach it” says Ryazan Al Mubarak — the UN Climate Change Champion for COP28, in a talk with this writer. “We need to look at the various breakthroughs. Nature is also our greatest ally. We will not achieve the 1.5 target if we don’t protect nature” and help local communities pay for “adaption and mitigation.” 

Why Hydrogen and Waste-to-Energy?

To that end, Masdar signed agreements with leading Egyptian state-backed organizations to produce green hydrogen in the country. The partners will target an electrolyzer capacity of 4 gigawatts by 2030 and an output of up to 480,000 tons of green hydrogen annually. It is also joining Fertiglobe and Engie to build a 200-megawatts green hydrogen plant in the UAE. And it is in similar discussions with Siemens and TotalEnergies.

Masdar has developed the first waste-to-energy plant in the region. It processes 100,000 tons of waste and offsets 150,000 tons of CO2 emissions. The plant is currently producing enough energy to power 2,000 homes yearly. Sixty percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the UAE come from household and industrial waste decomposing in landfills.

Waste-to-energy is a form of biomass: everyday garbage is used as a feedstock to create electricity or heat. The other options are to send the trash to the landfill and incinerate or recycle it. As for landfill sites, they contain harmful pollutants that can leach into the soil, while gases from decomposing materials will form potent methane emissions.

It has a similar project in Australia, where landfills are reaching capacity, pushing leaders to turn waste into electricity. The results are helping to reduce trash levels while also creating bio-energy and sustainable fuel.

It is a joint venture between Masdar and the Tribe Infrastructure Group. Masdar controls 40% of the investment to generate 29 megawatts of baseload renewable energy, which is enough to power at least 36,000 homes and displace more than 300,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

According to Australia’s Department of the Environment and Energy, the country produces about 67 million tons of waste annually, with more than 21 million tons ending up in landfill sites. Solid waste disposal accounts for about 1.6% of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Besides processing 300,000 tons of non-recyclable municipal, commercial, and industrial waste per year, it will do the same for 30,000 tons of biosolids a year while recovering bottom ash and then using it to build roads and as a feedstock for other construction materials.

“The problem of dealing with everyday waste is a global challenge, with more than 2 billion ton of municipal solid waste generated each year,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, in Abu Dhabi. “To this end, we are proud to be helping the state of Western Australia to deliver clean sources of power generation and sustainably manage its municipal solid waste.”

Masdar’s renewable energy portfolio holds investments from at least 40 nations. 

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