United Arab Emirates

Index rank 44

Balance Score


Energy Sustainability Index Rankings and Balance Score

 2011  2012  2013  Trend Score
Energy Performance  66  67  62   
Energy Security  58  56  49  B
Energy Equity  36  39  37  B
Environmental Sustainability  106  106  102  D
Contextual Performance  26  24  22   
Political Strength  36  38  39   
Societal Strength  37  33  33   
Economic Strength  11  13  11   
Overall Rank  52  53  44  BBD
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Fossil Fuel Reserves

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Key Metrics

Industrial sector (% of GDP) 56.1
TPEP / TPEC  (net energy exporter) 2.16
Emission intensity (kg CO2 per USD) 0.48
Energy affordability (USD per kWh) n.a.
GDP / capita (PPP, USD); GDP Group 47,729 (I)
Energy intensity (million BTU per USD) 0.20
CO2 emissions (metric tons CO2 per capita) 19.30
Population Access to Electricity (%) 94.1
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Index Commentary

The United Arab Emirates’ improved performance on all three dimensions lifts it nine places to an overall Index position of rank 44. Like the other countries in the ‘Fossil-Fuelled’ category, the UAE performs fairly well on the energy security and equity dimensions, but continues to fall behind when it comes to minimising its environmental footprint. Well-endowed with plentiful deposits of oil and natural gas, the UAE maintains a favourable energy production to consumption ratio, despite the rising growth rate of consumption. Energy equity remains good, as fuel prices continue to be quite affordable. Environmentally, emissions intensity and emissions from electricity generation improve slightly, but remain fairly low given that the UAE’s electricity mix is still 100% fossil fuel-based. The Emirates’ first nuclear power plant that becomes operational in 2017 and increased efforts to raise awareness around energy efficiency are likely to improve the UAE’s energy security and environmental sustainability performances in the coming years. Contextually, the UAE has a strong government and robust economy and continues to perform well.

Trends and Outlook

The UAE is making major investments across the energy spectrum to improve environmental sustainability, despite the economic downturn. Of particular note among specific actions are: 1) construction of 5.4 GW of nuclear power, managed under one of the most internationally transparent programmes to date, which is on schedule to deliver the first reactor in 2017 and the last in 2020; 2) enactment in 2010 of Estidama, the first mandatory building and landscaping sustainability regulations (energy/water performance) in the Middle East, which cuts consumption by over one third from the baseline; 3) establishment of renewable energy targets, including 7% generation capacity in Abu Dhabi by 2020 and 5% consumption in Dubai by 2030 that will be met with solar, wind, and waste-to-energy; 4) establishment of 30% demand reduction target by 2030 in the Emirate of Dubai, achieved through a mix of pricing reform, performance codes, and efficiency investments; 5) development of commercial-scale carbon capture and sequestration project by Masdar and ADNOC, using steel production emissions; 6) completion of the region’s first carbon inventory in 2013 for Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to be extended to Northern Emirates; and 7) development of the MENA region’s first green growth plan, which will be released later in 2013 in partnership with GGGI and include policy steps for all major economic sectors to minimise the environmental impact.

The UAE also has an extensive overseas clean energy investment and aid portfolio, which includes the establishment of a US$350 million concessional loan facility for renewable energy projects in developing countries in partnership with IRENA, a US$50 million grant for renewable energy projects in Pacific island countries, and other significant grant renewable energy projects, in 2013 including Mauritania, Seychelles, and Afghanistan.