Meeting with UAE Ministry of Energy Undersecretary H.E. Dr. Matar Al Neyadi
Energy Boardroom caught H.E. Dr. Matar Al Neyadi, Undersecretary at the UAE Ministry of Energy, during his first week back from summer vacation to discuss key developments in what has been an extremely exciting year for the UAE energy sector.
Over 90 percent of the UAE’s potable water supply comes from desalination. This energy-intensive process represents around 30 percent of the UAE’s total power consumption – and more problematically, binds water security to energy security.
The February Cabinet reshuffle saw the Ministry of Energy receive a renewed mandate to coordinate, regulate and represent the UAE energy sector. The most notable change for the Ministry, H.E. Dr. Al Neyadi pointed out, was the new water portfolio, which had previously fallen under the Ministry of Environment (now the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment); this reflected the “unique nexus between energy and water” in the UAE.
As one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, over 90 percent of the UAE’s potable water supply comes from desalination. This energy-intensive process represents around 30 percent of the UAE’s total power consumption – and more problematically, bind the UAE’s water security to energy security. Despite the UAE being one of the world’s top ten oil and gas producers, it remains a net importer of natural gas, which it uses to meet 99 percent of its electricity needs. “Linking the two portfolios under the Ministry of Energy is the right approach” to meeting this challenge, H.E. Dr. Al Neyadi affirmed.
H.E. Dr. Al Neyadi was also keen to discuss the UAE’s successful energy diversification initiatives. In May, the third phase of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park in Dubai broke solar price records with bids of 2.99 cents per kilowatt hour – rates that make it more than competitive with oil and gas. When asked about the secret behind the UAE’s successes in clean energy initiatives, H.E. Dr. Al Neyadi said that while “the nation was blessed with abundant natural resources”, its wise leadership had the vision and discipline to “develop an entire energy sector” around it “to ensure that the energy sector became an engine of growth”. This means moving away from having petroleum at the core of national energy strategy – since oil and gas are depletable resources, a fact the UAE’s leadership seems to understand better than many other oil and gas producers. The Ministry of Energy will continue to guide the evolution of the UAE energy landscape towards the leaders’ vision.
In 2019, the UAE will also be the first OPEC member country to host the World Energy Council, highlighting its emerging global energy leadership. H.E. Matar Al Neyadi expressed confidence that “the UAE will position itself not only as a regional leader in the Middle East but also as one of the most sustainable nations in the world”.