Leading the green charge

Dubai is deploying technologies that promise to transform it into a largely sustainable address for future living.

Sustainability is built into Dubai Plan 2021, a comprehensive roadmap for an information economy. The plan foresees a paperless Emirate of 100% digitized government transactions. The projected savings? One million trees. Indeed, the UAE’s overarching Energy Strategy 2050, launched in 2017, foretells an energy mix of 12% clean coal, 38% gas, 6% nuclear energy, and 44% clean energy. Tesla, for one, anticipates the fruit of this commitment, having opened shop in Dubai that same year.

A Turning Point
When in November 2013 Dubai learned that it would host the World Expo in 2020, a springboard availed itself for a paradigmatic shift in green. This spawned the Dubai Smart City strategy, presaging a knowledge-based, smart, and sustainably powered urban environment. Duly, the Supreme Council of Energy launched its implementation plan for the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, one that by 2020 targets clean energy as a ratio of its energy output at 7%, 25% by 2030, and 75% by 2050.

The Built Environment
Dubai is looking beyond, or more accurately, behind its iconic, vertiginous skyline to greener pastures. A prime example of the authorities’ lateral thinking has become widely viewed as the Emirate’s living laboratory in the desert. Located around 12 miles from downtown Dubai, this private sustainable city of 500 villas, replete with biodome greenhouses, is a small-scale in-vivo test of those ambitious energy targets’ achievability. Largely free of motor vehicles, the project, launched in 2016, champions walking, or at worse electric vehicles. It is primed to generate 100% of its energy on site from solar power, boasting peak energy production of 10MW, and recycling its water.

3D: One Great Idea
It’s true. Dubai has actually realized a 3D-printed office building. What’s more, the Emirate intends for 25% of all new buildings to be 3D-printed By 2025. By then, the technology will likely have made the practice a regularity, let alone a practicality. The objective here is to reduce the consumption of cement. Yes, common, and seemingly innocuous cement has uncommonly harmful consequences for the environment across its value chain, accounting for roughly 8% of global carbon emissions. Enter 3D, the use of which, it emerges, can also reduce building cost by a staggering 80%, as well as curbing project lead times. And meanwhile, waste is minimized given the use of recyclable plastics in 3D printer cement mixtures.

Selling the Case
There is nothing quite like awareness initiatives to keep a good idea alive, and Dubai has successfully compressed its sustainably green credentials into a high-profile annual Green Week. In 2019, this ran from October 17-24, an umbrella event organized by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), and a vehicle for showcasing key needs, issues, and solutions.
Among several other events, Green Week hosted the 21st Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX 2019). On this outing, WETEX had a dedicated hall for Green Week, where the focal points were sustainability, AI, digitalization, and other disruptive technologies, as well as water conservation, waste management, and broad-based conservation.

Knocking it out of the Park
Green Week also hosted the 4th Dubai Solar Show, the region’s premier sunshine gig. Select visitors enjoyed field visits to the showcase, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. DEWA has upped its capacity by 300MW and tendered tendering for the subsequent 900MW phase. The park has an estimated cost of USD13.6 billion, yet given the sustainable targets being jouled towards this is a modest outlay. Especially when considering that plentiful sun means that the revealed five phases of the park under development have a combined capacity of 2.86GW.
In brief, Dubai’s green initiatives are the proverbial gift that will keep on giving.