In today’s world, the environment is a significant concern. Many of us have heard environmentalists and interest groups claims that high carbon emissions and use of non-recyclable materials are harmful to our planet cause things such as global warming and droughts. In fact, many environmentalists go on to claim that the earth will be uninhabitable in the future if we keep going at the rate we are going in doing damage to the environment. One country that cause the most damaging impact to the environment are the United Arab Emirates located in the Persian Gulf region at the southeast on the Arabian peninsula.
This country was awarded first place in both 2012 and 2013 for being the most environmentally wasteful country on the planet. In those years, the country’s residents were considered to have the highest ecological footprint of any on earth. The country saw a slight improvement in its rank in 2014 when it placed third on the list of the most environmentally wasteful countries. Efforts are being made to improve the environment in the UAE by reducing the use of natural resources. One such way to reduce the use of natural resources is through the use of solar energy. Throughout this paper, I will discuss how the UAE can take steps to improve its environment through the use of solar energy.
Efforts to Help the Environment in the UAE: Solar Energy
The UAE is in crucial need of environmental improvement in enhance its air quality and create a more sustainable way of living requiring less reliance on fossil fuels for its residents. One such environmental improvement that the UAE should consider is the use of solar power as a means of providing energy. Solar power is a natural resource that is not depleted through its use in the way that natural gas, coal, and oil are. Furthermore, the use of solar power does not produce the environmentally harmful carbon emissions that are produced through the consumption of fossil fuels.
The article “Solar power in the UAE soon to be more than a mirage” appearing in The National in June of 2013 discusses the lack of solar energy use by the country that had been told that solar energy was coming and would soon be used to give power to their homes and cars. The author questions whether solar power is real before going on to answer the question by giving evidence of the use of solar power in other countries. The article states, “Germany installed more than 7.5 GW of new solar power plants last year alone, greater than the total power generation capacity of Dubai. So, yes, solar power is real. So why is it that the UAE, which receives so much more sunlight than Germany, has so little solar power?” (Fotuhi, 2013). The author goes on to answer the question by stating that the UEA has a large amount of natural gas reserves compared to other regions. Therefore, the cost of producing energy from this natural fossil fuel in rather inexpensive for this country. Another reason that the UAE has not made use of solar power is that the time for production of energy from solar power is only approximately six hours a day as compared to natural gas power production of a full 24 hours a day. Unlike other countries, the, in the past UAE did not need to import fossil fuels; therefore, it has not made use of solar power to try to offset some of this cost. In fact, the fact that the UAE was blessed with large fossil fuel reserves can be credited for their receipt of the most wasteful country in the world award and their high ecological footprint from carbon emmissions as well as the depletion of the world’s fossil fuels.
Today, however, some of the emirates that make up the UAE are forced to import a very significant portion of their natural gas. Furthermore, there have been improvements in solar power generation so that solar power is now able to be stored for a limited amount of time so that it can be used for more than just a six hour window a day. Due to the high cost of natural gas imports and the dropping cost of solar power generation, it is now more economically feasible for the UAE to consider making use of solar power to help offset some of their fossil fuel consumption and in the process improve their environmental footprint. According to The National article “Sun shines on Masdar solar hopes,” in the last three years the price of solar panels has dropped by more than half.
And the country is taking steps to improve their environmental footprint through the use of solar power. “In March, Abu Dhabi inaugurated the Masdar Shams 1 project, the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world” (Fotuhi, 2013). In fact Abu Dhabi has set of goal of deriving seven percent of the power source for their residents from solar energy by the year 2020 (See Yee, 2014). The emirate of Dubai also plans to construct the largest solar park in the region in order to make use of solar power. Dubai has also recently enacted legislation to facilitate the use of this solar power (See Neuhof). The article “Dubai looks to rooftop solar power revolution” predicts that in the year to come the infrastructure needs for the utilization of solar power will continue to increase.
Unlike other countries, however, counties such as UAE and others on the Arabian Gulf have opted not to offer government subsidies for the utilization of renewable energy (Se Yee, 2014). Although these countries seem to feel that these energy sources are able to compete with fossil fuels in terms of costs, it may also be taken as a lack of government backed commitment toward environmental improvement. Even if costs when compared to fossil fuels does not encourage the United Arab Emirates to offer government subsidies to increase the use of renewable energy such as solar energy, the UAE has another reason to offer these subsidies. As the nation with one of the worst ecological footprints on earth, the environmental improvement that the use of solar power and other forms of renewable energy will offer the country should be seen as just as valuable as money.
The United Arab Emirates has a significant environmental problem caused by years of utilizing its vast reserves of fossil fuels. In fact, it is considered to be one of the countries that does the most environmental damage to earth. The UAE has recently taken steps to help improve the environment. One of the steps that the country has taken is to turn to solar power as a source of energy; although it has taken the country a while to resort to use of this renewable resource, the country has taken substantial steps to put it into use to power homes and buildings. And solar power has improved in recent years, becoming both cheaper and storable. However, even in light of the steps the country has taken, the country has failed to offer government subsidies for the utilization of solar power due to the fact that the country believes it to be cost competitive enough not to warrant subsidies; but in the UAE solar power utilization should be considered beneficial enough to the environment to warrant subsidies.