The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced Tuesday plans to invest 600 billion dirhams ($163 billion) in projects to generate almost half the country’s power needs from renewables. “Our aim is to balance our economic needs with our environmental goals,” Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said on Twitter as the Gulf state unveiled its “Energy Strategy 2050”. The UAE is a top oil exporter, but has taken steps to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels to generate power, including building nuclear facilities. The country’s energy mix by 2050 will comprise 44% from renewables, 38% from gas, 12% from clean fossils and 6% from nuclear energy, said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the UAE’s vice-president and the ruler of the emirate of Dubai.
“The plan aims to increase usage efficiency by 40% and increase clean-energy contributions to 50%,” he wrote. In June, Dubai announced plans to build a 1,000-megawatt (MW) solar power plant by 2030, the year it aims to turn to renewable energies for 25% of electricity needs. In 2014, Abu Dhabi opened the world’s largest operating plant of concentrated solar power, which has the capacity to provide electricity to 20,000 homes. South Korean firms are also building four nuclear reactors west of Abu Dhabi, which are expected to generate 1,400 megawatts (MW) by 2020. The Gulf states are located in one of the world’s sunniest regions but they are far from being world leaders in solar energy.