UAE to deliver commercial nuclear power in 2020

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, Minister of State in the UAE said his country will be the first in the region to deliver safe, clean nuclear power. (Screengrab YouTube)
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Updated 14 January 2020

UAE to deliver commercial nuclear power in 2020

  • The UAE has grown its renewable portfolio by over 400 percent in the last 10 years

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will become the first country in the region to deliver “safe, commercial and peaceful nuclear power,” Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, Minister of State in the UAE, and Chairman of Masdar, announced in his opening speech at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) on Monday.

Held under the theme “Accelerating the pace of sustainable development,” the event’s 2020 edition is taking place from Jan. 11 to 18 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, bringing together policy makers, technology pioneers and industry specialists. Hosted by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Masdar, the event is also focusing on the role of youth as the next generation’s sustainability leaders.

Reviewing the UAE’s progress in the field of sustainability, Al Jaber referred to initiatives under Masdar and the Mohamed Bin Zayed Solar Park, calling the country one of the region’s first movers in promoting and investing in advanced energy.

“We live in a time where break-through technology is delivering unprecedented progress to humanity,” he said, noting that in the first two decades of the 21st century, life expectancy reached new heights, global child mortality was cut in half and the middle class more than doubled.

On the other hand, while human progress is accelerating, another key challenge is emerging- “how to produce the energy and resources the world needs while protecting the world we all share together?” he asked.

Taking the challenge “head on,” the UAE has launched renewable energy projects locally and across 25 other countries around the world totaling almost 12 GW, said Al Jaber.

“Nationally within the UAE, we have grown our renewable portfolio by over 400 percent in the last 10 years and we are well on track to double it again in the next 10 years.”

Among the guests were Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and the President of Indonesia Joke Widod.

This year, nine main topics will be discussed; artificial intelligence and the society, energy, climate change, space exploration and technology, health, water, food and technology for a better life.

Al Jaber pointed to the UAE’s decision to deliver nuclear power this year as a move that complements the country’s clean energy portfolio.

However, as the country diversifies into clean energy, it will continue to invest in “responsible production of traditional forms of energy,” he said.

Al Jaber vowed that by 2030, the UAE will reduce its greenhouse intensity by an additional 25 percent, and would limit its fresh water consumption to below 0.5 percent of its total water use.

The country also aims to increase its carbon capturlization and storage program by 500 percent to capture the same amount of carbon dioxide as 5 million acres of forest, he said.

“We will plant 10 million mangroves in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dafrah region, preventing coast line erosion and protecting the biodiversity off shore and on land,” he added.

On space technology, Al Jaber made another announcement stating the UAE had designated 2020 as the year to plan and prepare for the next 50 years.

“Last year the UAE made history by putting a man in space, and this year we will make history again by sending a probe to Mars,” said Al Jaber.

He also referred to the Mohamed bin Zayed University for Artificial Intelligence located in Masdar City, as the world’s first research-driven AI educational institution.

Launched several months ago, Al Jaber said the university makes the UAE a center for the international AI community and feeds into Masdar’s hub to translate groundbreaking ideas into practical solutions for a sustainable future.

“We are investing in our youth, building a knowledge-based economy and fostering a true vibrant culture of innovations.”

Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

Updated 22 January 2020

Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

  • Trump singles out ‘prophets of doom’ for attack
  • Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal

LONDON: Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg slammed inaction over climate change as the global oil industry found itself under intense scrutiny on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The teenage campaigner went head to head with US President Donald Trump, who dismissed climate “prophets of doom” in his speech.
She in turn shrugged off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation. We need to start listening to the science and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” the 17-year-old said.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was dominated by the global threat posed by climate change and the carbon economy.
The environmental focus of Davos 2020 caps a year when carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high, and the devastating effects of bushfires in Australia and other climate disasters dominated the news.
Oil company executives from the Gulf and elsewhere are in the spotlight at this year’s Davos meeting as they come under increased pressure to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint.
“We are not only fighting for our industry’s life but fighting for people to understand the things that we are doing,” said Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental, the US-based oil giant with extensive oil operations in the Gulf. “As an industry when we could be different — we will be different.”

‘Planting trees is good, but nowhere near enough,’ activist Greta Thunberg told Davos. (Shutterstock)

She said the company was getting close to being able to sequester significant volumes of CO2 in the US Permian Basin, the heartland of the American shale oil industry which is increasingly in competition with the conventional oil producers of the Arabian Gulf.
“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatons of CO2. That would be 28 years of emissions in the US. That’s the prize for us and that’s the opportunity. People say if you’re sequestering in an oil reservoir then you are producing more oil, but the reality is that it takes more CO2 to inject into a reservoir than the barrel of oil that it makes come out,” Hollub said.
The challenge Occidental and other oil companies face is to make investors understand what is happening in this area of carbon sequesteration, she added.
The investment community at Davos is also looking hard at the oil industry in the face of mounting investor concerns.
Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. It accused some of these groups of failing to live up to the World Economic Forum goal of “improving the state of the world.”