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Posted: October 29th, 2022
How does the United Arab Emirates Plan to Implement Renewable Energy In The Near Future, with a Particular Focus on Solar Energy
The world is increasingly aware of the sources and effects of global warming. Part of the causes of global warming is the continued use of fossil fuels. At the same time, the countries producing some of the highest amounts of fossil fuels are also the one most affected by extreme weather changes caused by global warming. This understanding has resulted in a global push for all countries and especially he oil producing countries to pursue green energies that include cutting back on non-renewable sources of energy and adopting the use of renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar energy.
The global inclination towards the use of renewable energy has resulted in the oil producing countries bending towards the utilization renewable energy with the renewable technologies in application being considered to be more advanced and modern in the oil producing technologies. In cities like Dubai there are already entire buildings that are intended to use green energy for all purposes (Alkhateeb, Hijleh, Rengasamy and Muhammed, 2016). Despite such advances, there is still limited understanding on what really motivates the use of green energy among governments, non-governmental organizations, private sector, and individuals.
Past research has proposed that global warming to be the major motivation for the application and use of renewable energy technologies across the world. However, this has been limited to private entities and companies as well as non-governmental organizations operating for the protection of the environment. This leaves the governments and the individuals as some of the groups least understood with respect to what the key are motivating factors for the use and application of renewable energy solutions. This creates the need for continued research on the development and use green energy solutions across the world.
In the proposed research, the focus will be on the development and application of green energy solutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The focus will be on the motivations for the use and application of solar energy, considering the location of the UAE and the intensity of solar energy. The research will also focus on the identification of the extent of application of green energy by various stakeholders including the governments, private sector, and individuals in the region. Particular attention is drawn to the possibility of differences in motivating factors for the different target groups. In addition, there may be inherent differences in the factors motivating the development and use of green energy solutions for with groups especially among individuals. The goal of the research is to extensively and intensively probe the motivating factors and to help understand how best to encourage the application of energy solutions in the United Arab Emirates green.
The review of literature recognizes the unique position of the United Arab Emirates as a nation whose economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas, considering the nations great reserves. The review also considers other unique factors such as the sporadic rise in population, mainly due to the upsurge in expatriates. Lastly, the review of literature recognizes the fact that the UAE is heavily endowed with sunshine throughout the year. The interactions among the factors is important in understand the process of implementation of green energy solutions in the region.
Ethics of Energy
The United Araba Emirates has been called out for its massive contribution to the emission of greenhouse gases in the world. A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program indicated that the United Arab Emirates leads the world in the emission of greenhouse gases. The emissions of greenhouse gases are broadly due to the fact that the UAE heavily depends on the use of fossil fuels for the generation of electric energy and for distillation and purification of water. Other sources of the emissions include the motor vehicles and metallurgical industries in the region. The United Nations Agency however believes that the UAE has a greater responsibility at reduction of the emissions of greenhouse gases through the application of renewable sources of energy especially solar energy.
The representation of the UAE as a country among those leading in the emission of greenhouse gases poses a major ethical question for the authorities in the UAE. Researchers have noted that pressure from advocates for environmental protection is one of the major motivations for the UAE to adopt green energy solutions (UNEP, 2014). In March 2014 the UAE signed a partnership agreement with UNEP to advance the use of green energy in the UAE in what was referred to as the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE). The initiative, currently working in four other nations, involves UNEP consultants providing consultancy services for nations so as to encourage the adoption of green technologies and the development of energy efficient infrastructure (UNEP, 2014). The UAE was targeted not only because of its vision 2021 that will help in the implementation of green energy but also because of its state on emissions.
In 2014 the contribution of clean energy to UAE’s total energy demand was only 0.2%. In other words the UAE generated 99.8% of its total energy from fossil fuels, indicating the extent to which the UAE relies on non-renewable energy (UAE State of Green Economy Report 2017). This however is set to change with the nation focusing on increasing the use of clean energy to 24% of total energy by 2021 (UAE State of Green Economy Report 2017). in specific cities such as Dubai, the use of clean energy was only 5% in 2014 with expectations that it will be raised to 15% as stated in the city’s vision 2030 documents. Abu Dhabi on the other hand has targeted 7% by the year 2020. The endeavors demonstrated by the UAE and the various emirates showcases the commitment of the UAE to the reduction of dependence on non-renewable sources of energy (UAE State of Green Economy Report 2017).
While the authorities in the UAE and the various emirates showcase their commitment for continued reduction of reliance on non-renewable energy, research has demonstrated that fossil fuels will continue being the major source of energy for at least the next 100 years and nations such as the UAE are major contributors to the fossil fuels market. Critics of the policies on clean energy adopted by the UAE and other oil and gas states have argued that to contribute notably to the reduction of fossil fuels reliance the nations ought to start cutting back on the daily production of fossil fuels. These nations have however continued acting to the contrary of this position through the increase in pumping of fossil fuels from the grounds and supply to the international markets. Besides, the UAE is criticized for increasing production to gain money that will be used in the creation of green energy solutions in the region. In other words, the concern is that he UAE has to sell oil to create green energy solutions in its region and this continued to increase greenhouse gases emissions. The net effect is that the state of green energy applications do not warrant any significant contribution to keeping the world 2 degrees cooler.
Policy formulation is another core consideration in the application of green energy in the UAE. The government in the UAE has focused on the creation of green cities. However, the authorities have neglected considerations and policies that would led to reduction of reliance on fossil fuels. Proponents of green energy solutions consider that for the policies to work, the government must create laws encouraging the use of green energy by individual households (Hoppe, Graf, Warbroek, Lammers and Lepping, 2015). This has not been the case in the UAE with many individuals being considered to be inconsiderate and non-receptive to the need for reduction in use of energy so as to reduce the pressure on the use of electricity generated from fossil fuels. Besides, the UAE’s energy policy and economic policy are considered as competing interests that have continued to hinder and hamper policies that would lead to better results on the use of green energy solutions.
Focusing on the private sector, corporate social responsibility demands the application of green energy technologies. However, this has not been the case with many corporations in the UAE (Korichi, Abdelmadjid, and Sasu, 2017). Ethics of energy application have resulted in corporate bodies continuing to use fossil fuels for energy purposes. The rationale is that fossil fuels are easy to use and also easily accessible in the UAE. On the other hand, the generation green energy would require additional costs for the businesses to generate green energy (Al-Aomar and Hussain, 2017). One of the basis of this argument is that installation of photovoltaic cells for application in green energy is still considered to be more expensive than any other sources of energy. Businesses that are more focused on profitability have hence continued to use and apply fossil fuels even when solar energy is available in plenty in the UAE.
One of the motivations for the application of green energy is the reform in accounting policies, especially for businesses with global operations and offices in the UAE. According to research, the rise of triple bottom line reporting has resulted in the continued consideration of green energy solutions across the world and in the UAE. Under triple bottom-line reporting the business entities are mandated to provide comprehensive reports that demonstrate impact on the people and planet in addition to the reporting for profitability. The implications are that new companies establishing in the UAE must be ready to implement and use renewable sources of energy, mainly solar energy. The challenge, however, remains the perspective of private businesses on incurring extra costs to protect people and environment as well as limited application of the triple bottom line reporting system in the UAE (Al-Aomar and Hussain, 2017).
In summary, the review of literature on the ethics of energy demonstrates that the UAE has continued with its commitment to using renewable energy. The core motivations include being rated among the countries with the highest levels of emissions while business entities are motivated by the rise of interest in triple bottom line reporting. The challenge however, is that the energy policy conflicts with the economic policies in the UAE as the UAE heavily depends on petrodollars for its economy. Additionally, there is scarcity of evidence on what really motivates the application of clean energy among individuals households in the UAE considering that there does not exists policies encouraging sensitivity to the use of energy and more specifically focusing on the use of electricity highly dependent to fossil fuels. The consideration of these factors influences the understanding of the ethical dilemmas facing the application of clean energy technologies in the UAE. Additionally, it demonstrates the existence of research gaps on the qualitative understanding of the ethical factors that motivate governments, private entities, and individual households to apply and use clean energy solutions.
One of the important areas for the application of green energy technologies is the business arena. Past research considered that application of green energy technologies by corporate bodies would help motivate individual households to use green energy. The application of renewable technologies by businesses is also considered to have a greater impact considering that businesses are the largest net consumers of energy in the UAE.
The real estate sector is consider a key diver for the application of green technologies. In particular, developers in the real estate industry are considered as key influencers of the application of green energy. The rationale is that the developers have the opportunity to build structures that are energy efficient by ensuring that electricity is not required to light any rooms during the day, ensuring that main grid electricity is only used in the absence of other sources of energy such as sunlight, and ensuring that installations consume energy efficiently. To attain this, many developers install photovoltaic solar panels on the buildings, installation of solar water heaters, and installation of energy saving bulbs among other features in the buildings. Additionally, the developers may also create insulated buildings meaning that the need for AC both during the day and night is eliminated and reduced.
While businesses in the real estate sector have been considered in past research as a possible point for the interventions focusing on the use of renewable energy sources such as solar panels, research also indicates that many businesses still do not develop energy efficient buildings primarily due to the cost factor in the development of the buildings (Alkhateeb, Hijleh, Rengasamy and Muhammed, 2016). Developers cite high cost of photovoltaic panels, high cost of solar water heaters, and high cost of materials that would result in better heat performance in buildings. These factors are considered to inflate he cost of buildings resulting in lower profitability of the real estate projects (Alkhateeb, Hijleh, Rengasamy and Muhammed, 2016). Where the home buyers are keen on the development of energy efficient buildings and the client does not have financial constraints, then the application of energy efficient materials is possible as the materials is possible. The implication of such a finding is that the business sector has not been able to provide energy efficient buildings for the mass markets but this may be accomplished for the high end properties. The finding is consistent with past research in different areas of the world including research conducted on real estate projects in Europe and in the United States (Alkhateeb, Hijleh, Rengasamy and Muhammed, 2016).
Innovators in renewable energy have also been a considered factor in the application of green energy such as solar energy in development projects. In different parts of the world innovators are encouraged to focus on the development of technologies that would enable consumption of solar energy and other sources of energy by the mass markets. In the UAE, the stakeholders have continued to explore research endeavors in the sector. Researchers indicate that core factors in research and development of energy efficient technologies is cost of materials and accessibility, which have been the key factors affecting the use of solar energy, wind energy, and other sources of green energy.
Top-down sustainability in businesses has been a core research area in the consideration of application of green energy in businesses in the UAE. The focus of research has been on whether green energy is considered as a key performance indicator in the sustainability metrics of businesses. Research demonstrates that while sustainability reporting has been accepted by businesses, the use of green energy or renewable energy is not considered as a key performance indicator. However, energy efficiency in terms of how much energy a business uses is considered a key performance indicator. Even where energy performance indicator, other factors related to cost management and profitability are still considered superior to the requirement for energy efficiency (Al-Aomar and Hussain, 2017). Besides, businesses are not required to publish sustainability report through this is gaining traction across the world thereby influencing more attention to all facets of sustainability.
The need for businesses socially responsible is an important consideration when driving the use of renewable energy. Use of green energy as well as demonstrable energy efficiency are some of the core indicators of corporate social responsibility (Korichi, Abdelmadjid, and Sasu, 2017). Businesses however consider corporate social responsibility as an unnecessary additional cost, one that often does not result in any value for the business. Consequently, businesses do not feel incentivized to pursue energy efficiency or the application of renewable energy solutions as part of corporate social responsibility (Korichi, Abdelmadjid, and Sasu, 2017). The implications are that many businesses would rather consider other avenues of demonstrating corporate social responsibility. Many of those ways include demonstrating support and donations to poorer communities across the world.
To attain high levels of application of renewable energy technologies in businesses there may be the need for establishment of policies that require businesses to use green energy solutions. Researchers indicate that use of green energy solutions should be treated similar to other public goods considering that non-renewable sources of energy are not only inefficient but also cause pollution. Policies should focus on compelling businesses to use energy efficient methods as well as use clean energy (Hoppe, Graf, Warbroek, Lammers and Lepping, 2015). The UAE started considering carbon credits in 2014 to enforce reductions in carbon emissions but the project has never kicked off. However, there has not been any policies that directly enforce the use of green energy technologies in the UAE and there are no incentives for the application of green energy technologies (Hoppe, Graf, Warbroek, Lammers and Lepping, 2015).
Researchers have in the past cited the need for business entities to organize, support, and participate in awareness creation forums for application of sustainable energy (Abuelgasim and Daiban, 2017). However, thought leaders and institutions of learning have been the ones often involved in organizing such forums (Azar and Al Ansari, 2017). Business entities may sent participants to the forums butt often many businesses were found to ac passively in the creation of awareness on development and application of green energy solutions (Abuelgasim and Daiban, 2017). In some parts of the world, some business entities have been cited to fund research studies that provide results watering down the importance of sustainable energy. The majority of businesses that participate in the awareness forums for sustainable energy have been those that offer technological innovations for renewable energy (Abuelgasim and Daiban, 2017). The importance of the research finding has been in demonstrating the perceptions and attitude of business entities towards application of green energy solutions in business.
There is limited evidence on the attention of UAE businesses towards the use and application of green energy technologies, especially solar energy in the businesses. Further, a quick search of information on the extent to which businesses apply solar energy in the UAE also demonstrates scarcity of research in the area. The other area that shows stark gap is the levels of awareness on sustainable energy practices in the corporate world. These gaps demonstrate the need for further research on the application of green energy solutions in the UAE.
Based on the reviewed literature, common areas of past research have been found to focus on sustainability reporting, corporate social responsibility, and the consideration of costs in the application of renewable energy solutions including solar energy (Korichi, Abdelmadjid, and Sasu, 2017). Policy considerations have been the subject of many research recommendations. A few research studies have consistent focused on the levels of awareness in the industry, resulting in awareness levels between 18% and 22% in the corporate world (Abuelgasim and Daiban, 2017). However, there has been deficiencies in the understanding of whether the creation of awareness actually results in better application of green energy solutions. The latter is an important area of further research considering creation of awareness among students was not found to have behavioral changes in the use and management of energy (Abuelgasim and Daiban, 2017).
Considering the identified views in the review of literature, the proposed research will delve into the understanding of the factors that motivate businesses to go green in the use of energy. The importance of the research will be to enable the identification of the key motivators that policy makers may seek to incentivize in order to encourage the use of green energy in the UAE. Special consideration will be on harnessing solar energy given the UAE is well endowed with plenty of sunshine hence the need to focus on the key factors that would encourage businesses to increase the use of solar energy in business processes.
The United Arab Emirates recognizes the impact continued use of non-renewable sources of energy, considering the demonstrated commitment to the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE). However, past research has consistently demonstrated that there is limited understanding on the factors that motivate the application of renewable sources of energy in the UAE. This creates the need for further research in the area.
According to one study, connectedness to the global economy is one of the factors motivating the application of green energy solutions in the UAE. Regulations set in other parts of the world such as Europe influence the application of green energy in the UAE. For instance, the requirements for motor vehicles to maintain set level of emissions is one of the motivating factors for application of green energy. The citizens in the UAE are increasingly attracted to energy efficient cars and consider this among the top priorities when considering the use of the cars (Kiani, 2017).
The use is committed to becoming a global leader in the adoption of new technologies. A good example is the commitment of Dubai to become the core applicant of major energy saving solutions through the construction of self-sufficient green energy cities that will fully rely on wind and solar energy for purposes of heating, lighting, and running of systems in the city. This has already been conceptualized in the vision 2030 of the city of Dubai indicating the continued commitment of the region to efficient sources of energy.
While the authorities are committed to conversion of the cities to green cities, the motivations of the application of green energy solutions among the individuals are not yet fully understood. Research indicates that some of the factors though to motivate the use of green energy among individual households include social and environmental responsibility where the individuals feel social and environmentally responsible. The implications are that such individuals would choose to act ethically not only in their interest but also in the interests of other persons. However, research has continued to refute claims of social and environmental responsibility among individuals as sources of motivation for the application of green energy solutions. Instead, research has considered that the levels of environmental education as well as the levels of awareness are the key influences for the application of green energy solutions.
In the UAE, there has been efforts to create green campuses to train the young about the importance of environmental protection and use of green solutions. Research has demonstrated that where such campuses exists the sensitivity to the impact of non-renewable sources of energy is high (Azar and Al Ansari, 2017). This indicates the importance of the level of awareness in the understanding of the interactions between the sources of energy and the weather and climatic patters observed. However, the levels of awareness have not been found to have significant impact on behavioral change among individuals with respect to the management of energy and application of green energy solutions. This demonstrates the need for further research to identify why there exists disconnect between awareness and the application of green energy solutions especially in the areas where there are green campuses (Azar and Al Ansari, 2017).
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization demonstrated that while awareness is an important factor in activating the application of green energy solutions there are other factors that are needed to sustain the application of green energy. Such factors include the understanding of energy ethics and how to develop ethical societies with respect to the development and use of green energy. In particular, research has demonstrated that while many people understand the implications of non-renewable sources of energy, the cost of renewable sources of energy makes it difficult for the societies to adjust to the use and application of green energy (Al-Aomar and Hussain, 2017). Individuals in the society may consider it to be the responsibility of other people to develop and use of green energy solutions. Similarly, there are the influences of culture on the use and application of green energy (Sharif, 2016). Where societies are brought up understanding the importance of energy conservation, it becomes easier to encourage the application of green energy. However, societies that have not grown knowing the importance of energy conservation find it difficult to even consider green sources of energy. These factors have been found to be critical in influencing the adoption of green energy solutions especially among individuals in the UAE.
Other than awareness, culture, and ethics of energy consumption, the economic conditions of households also influence the use and application of efficient energy management practices (Abuelgasim and Daiban, 2017). For instance, energy saving behaviors such as switching of the lights are more common among impoverished communities than in relatively wealthy communities. A similar finding has been established in the UAE where migrants from relatively poor backgrounds were found to switch of the lights more often than the citizens of the UAE who have led more lavish lifestyles. This indicates that the challenge of efficient use of energy is motivate by different factors, some of which may be context-specific.
One of the key motivators of application of green energy in the UAE has been found to be the continued change sin air quality. As families continue being affected by declining quality of air in many of regions, they are increasingly aware of the view that non-renewable sources of energy contribute to worsening air quality. Such awareness has continued to see such families reducing the dependence on non-renewable energy (Abuelgasim and Daiban, 2017). Similarly, major changes in energy utilization behaviors have also been noted due to such concerns.
In summary, the review of literature demonstrates that there is increased awareness of the impact that non-renewable sources of energy have on the climate. However, awareness alone does not result in positive behavioral changes with respect to management of energy (Abuelgasim and Daiban, 2017). The implications are that more salient factors such as economic factors, cultural factors, and energy ethics have been found to have more influence on energy management that awareness. However, past research has been inconclusive creating the need for continued research. The proposed research seeks to close the gap in the understanding of the factors that motivate the application and use of green energy.
Abuelgasim, A. and Daiban, S., 2017. Levels of Climate Change Awareness in the United Arab Emirates.
Abuelgasim, A. and Daiban, S., 2017. Levels of Climate Change Awareness in the United Arab Emirates.
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Alkhateeb, E., Hijleh, B.A., Rengasamy, E. and Muhammed, S., 2016. Building refurbishment strategies and their impact on saving energy in the United Arab Emirates. Proceedings of SBE16.
Azar, E. and Al Ansari, H., 2017. Framework to investigate energy conservation motivation and actions of building occupants: The case of a green campus in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Applied energy, 190, pp.563-573.
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Korichi, H.S., Abdelmadjid, K. and Sasu, C., 2017. The Role of Environmental Responsibility in the Adoption of Green Marketing: The Case of Petroleum Companies in Arab Countries. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, 5(11), pp.103-139.
Sharif, K., 2016. Investigating the key determinants of Muslim ethical consumption behaviour amongst affluent Qataris. Journal of Islamic Marketing, 7(3), pp.303-330.
UAE State of Green Economy Report 2017. pdf
UNEP. 2014. UNEP and UAE Agree to Cooperate on Environmental Issues. Retrieved from https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/unep-and-uae-agree-cooperate-environmental-issues
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