A recent opinion piece in the UAE’s The National highlighted the potential for the UAE to become a major player in Europe’s renewable energy sector. The authors, Jonathon Walters, a former World Bank Director of Regional Programmes in MENA, and Laura El-Katiri, a research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, claim that the Arab world can reframe the renewables market in Africa.
According to the authors, the crux of Europe’s renewable energy issues lies in the fact that Europe is producing its own solar power at subsidized rates, meaning that potential energy exporters in Africa, who would benefit greatly from the continent’s sunnier climate, would be priced out of the market.
El-Katiri and Walters then go on to highlight the UAE’s position as the world’s leading developmental aid donor and Emirati leadership in the field of renewable energy. The opinion piece suggests the UAE’s government could refocus its aid work to target the private sector, specifically solar power producers in the deserts of Morocco, Egypt or Tunisia.
The writers claim that the UAE could finance the building of solar power plants and invest in the transmission lines that would take the generated electricity from Africa to Europe. Beyond developmental aid, the project would secure the future of the UAE in terms of energy infrastructure.
The article goes on to state that the financial implications of such a project would be vast. The authors claim that the UAE’s investment, along with the creation of a European market for imported solar power, would drive the development of further solar technology and the building of a North African solar power grid, which would in turn lead the prices of solar energy to fall. El-Katiri and Walters point to the incalculable number of jobs that such a project would generate in North Africa, boosting export revenue and driving demand for solar power throughout the region.
In their conclusion, the authors claim that the initiative would fall in line with the UAE’s own developmental and investment goals, through the bolstering of the North African economy and the creation of a vast source of renewable power. Additionally, the potential for much closer cooperation between the UAE and North Africa in the realm of energy exportation and the creation of a green energy sector in the Emirates could only be of benefit to both economies.