The timing was possibly not chosen randomly. Two weeks before the United Arab Emirates hosted the World Climate Conference in Dubai, they inaugurated one of the largest solar facilities globally.
The facility in Al Dhafra is expected to “over two million tonnes a year, which is equivalent to 800,000 cars off the road,” said Charles Bai, the president of Jinko, the company involved in the project, on Thursday.
Located approximately 30 kilometers south of the capital, Abu Dhabi, the Al Dhafra facility spans 21 square kilometers of desert. Robot-operated cleaning modules keep its photovoltaic panels free of sand and dust while they track the sun. According to its website, the facility has a production capacity of two gigawatts and will provide energy to 160,000 households.
The Gulf states aim to triple their renewable energy capacity in the next seven years, with the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Upcoming World Climate Conference Controversial
The upcoming World Climate Conference, starting on November 30th in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is contentious. One focal point of discussion will be the future utilization of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. The controversial figure at the helm of this year’s conference is Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who holds the dual roles of Minister of Industry and head of the state-owned oil company, Adnoc.
Notably, Al Jaber is also the founder of the state-owned renewable energy corporation, Masdar, which, along with another public entity, TAQA, owns 60 percent of the Al-Dhafra project.
The Paris Climate Agreement, established in 2015, aims to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, preferably targeting 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, current UN assessments indicate a trajectory towards a temperature increase of plus 2.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century under existing policies. According to the UN, a complete transition away from all fossil fuels, with emissions either captured or offset, is imperative to achieve the net-zero goal by 2050.