Oil Exports Fuels The Emirates Solar Boom

Country Overview

The United Arab Emirates (Emirates) consists of seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain). The Emirates are bordered by Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the Persian Gulf. The population of the Emirates is approximately 9.54 million people.

In 2022, the Emirates’ economy was ranked 28th in the world in gross domestic product (GDP). The country’s economy is dependent on the export of crude oil, refined petroleum, gold, broadcasting equipment, diamonds, sulfur, and limestone.

Environment Policies

In 2016, the Emirates signed the Paris Climate Agreement, committing to “limit” emissions and increase the share of “clean energy” in the energy mix to 24% by 2021.

In 2017, the Emirates’ established the goal to generate 50% of the nation’s electricity from zero-carbon emitting power plants by 2050.

Power Generation Capabilities

In 2021, 100 % of the people in the Emirates had  access to electricity. In 2021, Emirate owned utilities used natural gas (93.8%), renewable energy (4.9%), and nuclear energy (1.3%) to generate electricity in the country. Solar is the dominant type of renewable energy used to generate electricity in the Emirates.

Recent renewable energy projects in Emirates include:

  • 1,800 MW Solar Project – Emirate renewable energy company, Masdar is continuing work on the sixth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is located approximately 30 miles south of the city of Dubai.
  • 900 MW Solar Project – In June 2023, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority commissioned the fifth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is located approximately 30 miles south of the city of Dubai.
  • 250 MW Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Project – Dubai Electricity & Water Authority is continuing work on the Hatta pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant at a site approximately 35 miles southeast of Dubai. The project is forecast to be commissioned by July 2025.
  • 104 MW Wind Project – In October 2023, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority commissioned the Emirates’ first commercial wind project at a site approximately 50 miles southeast of Dubai.


Commercial oil was first discovered in the Emirates in 1958, approximately 52 miles northwest of the capital, Abu Dhabi. In 2022, the Emirates were the 5th largest crude oil exporting country in the world.

The export of crude oil is critical to the Emirates’ economy. In 2021, the Emirates exported U.S. $58.5 Billion in crude oil and U.S. $42.5 Billion in refined petroleum.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to place economic sanctions on Russian imports and exports. As a result, the crude oil and natural gas prices increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.

The Emirates has significant renewable energy resource potential, including solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, and biomass.

The Emirates intends to use renewable energy and nuclear power to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the UAE’s ever-increasing power requirements. The rise in the global crude oil prices has allowed the Emirates to accelerate the development of new renewable energy projects. Oil exports are now fueling the Emirates solar boom.


Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”




Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a diverse range of energy issues.


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