The building sector provides the biggest potential for energy savings in the U.A.E., according to the government's Energy Report released Tuesday.
A joint report by IRENA, the U.A.E.'s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, released on April 8, revealed possible savings of $3.7 billion per year in the country by increasing efficiency and renewables within the energy mix.
The government prioritizes clean energy and efficiency to tackle the growing energy demand in the country which is expected to rise by 9 percent a year, according to the report.
"Energy conservation and efficiency are essential pillars of economic development," the new report underlines and believes the energy saving targets can be reached through building efficiency as buildings consume the largest share of electricity in the U.A.E.
Compared to renewable energy projects, energy conservation and efficiency projects are "the low-hanging fruit" as they require "little minimal funding to be implemented and often yield faster results," the report shows.
The report points out that Abu Dhabi and Dubai, two of the seven emirates, have been at the forefront of the effort to make buildings more efficient.
The capital, Abu Dhabi, aims to reduce energy use in buildings by 30 percent while Dubai targets a 30 percent reduction in its total energy use.
Creating a federal green building code, and speeding up the adoption of efficient building technologies in all of the emirates within the U.A.E. is an important step towards the country’s energy goals, the report stresses.
Larger families in the U.A.E., compared with Europe and North America, leads to higher consumption of energy and water in the country, the report points out.
"Given the cultural considerations within the U.A.E. and the harsh climate, a locally-developed database and building efficiency benchmarks could be useful tools," in determining the current situation and allowing for the targeting of future opportunities, the report suggests.
Oil and gas are the dominant fuels used in the U.A.E., but the report reveals a hope for change in the energy sector towards more reliance on green energy. Moreover through the U.A.E.’s commitment to green and sustainable growth, energy security and diversification away from fossil fuels are becoming key strategies.
The U.A.E. has 27 gigawatts of installed capacity and relies mostly on natural gas and LNG for power. The country targets increasing the share of clean energy including renewables and nuclear energy to 24 percent by 2021.
By Zeynep Beyza Karabay