New UAE energy minister seeks energy efficiency

Concerned about rising domestic oil consumption, the new minister of energy of the United Arab Emirates has called for national-level improvements in energy-use efficiency.

At the Dubai Global Energy Forum, Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei pointed to rapid increases in oil consumption and the UAE’s status as a net importer of natural gas and said, “Whatever we consume at home we cannot sell overseas.”

Mazrouei, who is from Abu Dhabi and was appointed energy minister of the seven-state UAE in March, hailed a target set by Dubai for a 30% cut in demand by 2030 and called for steps at the federal level such as tougher building codes, stronger appliance standards, vehicle fuel standards, and “strategic management of water and desalination investment.”

He suggested the capture of emitted carbon dioxide for injection into oil fields to make natural gas available for other uses, noting that injection for oil recovery now accounts for about half of UAE gas output.

“This approach could be cheaper than importing or developing new gas,” Masrouei said. “It also allows the UAE to develop a new industry around decarbonizing the oil-gas and industrial sectors.”

The energy minister, formerly deputy chief executive of Mubadala Petroleum, called energy intensity an important focus of federal policy. The UAE, according to the World Resources Institute, consumes 481 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) energy to generate $1 million in gross domestic product, he said. For the same level of economic output, Norway uses 172 toe, and Japan uses 154 toe.

Masrouei said the UAE is building 5.6 Gw of nuclear capacity and expects nuclear energy to account for as much as 25% of the federation’s electricity output by 2020.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are developing renewable energy projects while “some of the cheapest renewable energy resources in the UAE are waste-to-energy in Sharjah and wind in Fujairah,” Masrouei said, calling for federal coordination of renewable-energy targets and finance.

And he said a national approach would be best for improving water-use efficiency and consequently for lowering energy demand related to desalination. The UAE is among the world’s top three producers of desalinated water, Masrouei said, adding, “This represents a significant demand on our energy resources.”

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