(Bloomberg) -- Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, plans to increase solar power generation by two-thirds this decade and build more efficient water desalination plants to help the country meet its goal for net-zero carbon emissions.
The projects are part of a government drive to lower industrial emissions and help reach that goal by mid-century, Awaidha Al Marar, chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Energy, said in an interview. The emirate will build two solar plants and two waste-to-energy plants, adding 2.15 gigawatts of power, according to the energy department.
Governments and energy companies worldwide are shifting investment to renewables in an effort to slow the increase in global temperatures. Oil-producing states like the UAE, the third-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Saudi Arabia, the biggest, see renewables as a low-cost way to meet burgeoning local demand for power while cutting emissions and making more fuel available for export.
The UAE became the first major Middle Eastern oil producer to declare a net zero target for its domestic emissions. However, that aim doesn’t cover oil once it has been shipped from the country, which announced the goal even as it invests billions of dollars to boost production capacity by a quarter to 5 million barrels a day by 2030. In recent months, the country has exported about 3 million barrels of a day.
The Persian Gulf state is working to cut some of the world’s highest per capita emissions, caused by the need to desalinate seawater for home use and to rely on air conditioning during torrid summer months.
Building water-treatment plants using reverse osmosis technology will help the emirate close older and less efficient facilities, Al Marar said. The Energy Department is also set to roll out power tariff rules that will offer industrial users cheaper rates if they consume electricity during periods when demand is low, he said.
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