The UAE’s transition to a net-zero future

Mr. Musabbeh Al Kaabi: Advances in things like AI, big data analytics, and supercomputing are perhaps the most exciting and important technological development of our era. The ability to collect and analyze such huge volumes of data instantly gives us the ability to make decisions that ensure efficiency, sustainability, and safety across our operation. Our Panorama Data Analytics Center has given us extensive monitoring and measurement capability across our operation value chain. In the last five years, we’ve achieved a 15% saving in energy expenditure and aim to achieve another 5% reduction within the next three years. Advanced data analytics tools have helped us perform centralized productive maintenance, virtually eliminating flaring. We’ve also successfully piloted AI technology at our gas facilities. By simultaneously crunching data from hundreds of IoT sensors, our AI emission monitoring platforms to give us real-time guidance on the optimum parameters to operate facilities so that we generate the most energy with the least emissions.

AI is also helping to ensure that activities like drilling are as energy efficient as possible. By performing rapid data analysis, the AI ​​is able to identify challenges and determine the optimum parameters to minimize energy expenditure. These advances go hand in hand with another exciting field: automation and robotics. Robotic operations reduce or entirely eliminate the need for heavy equipment used for things like firefighting and the consumption of high carbon source material. For instance, one of our underwater inspection vehicles piloted last year removed the need to take rigs to docks for maintenance. We calculated that this one device alone, the size of a small box, will cut greenhouse gas emission by up to 30,000 tons over five years. Elsewhere, robotics and drone inspection devices are ensuring that we provide around the clock effective safeguards against challenges such as methane leaks.

Laurel: One last question for you, Your Excellency. In being the first in the region to set these sustainability goals, the UAE is in a unique leadership position. So leading up to COP28, what would you like to see from public and private sector leaders in terms of driving sustainable industrial development?

Her Excellency, Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri: We need to all start with the key realization that the transition that we’re going to see with our climate is an impact on all of us, regardless of what sector you belong to, regardless of what economy, what level, it will affect some more than others, and it will create both a negative impact and will have some forms of damage across the board. To be able to form the right partnerships, we need to stop thinking as governments, public sector, private sector, and more as an overarching whole-of ecosystem approach. And what that really means is that we are all stakeholders in this. In the correct energy transition, in the correct green transition, in the right mechanism for decarbonization, in being able to commit and being able to deliver on our commitments, especially with regards to decarbonization. And how do you really translate that into effective mechanisms?

It’s not about partnerships first, it’s about the mindset and approach, decoupling support for decarbonization from growth. It could be coupled and will be. And we’ve spoken at different examples where the Emirates has looked at fostering economic growth together with creating the necessary equilibrium to ensure that it’s not impacting our decarbonization drive. And we are not doing this in silos. It’s not a public policy. It’s not only a regulations drive, it is a drive of bringing partnerships on board, of working together with both the private and public sector as joint stakeholders, of finding the right mechanisms for technology adoption across industries, building the right use cases where different industrial players can learn from it. And then driving that internationally.

And I want to point to one example of multilateral global partnership, which is our signature on the energy security and industrial accelerator agreement with Germany in 2022. That signaled our commitment to investing in projects of energy security decarbonization and carbon action—that’s multilateral, multi -impact, broad, and does the necessary change while creating the necessary impact and overarching mechanism. And what we want to work, as a global community that is equally impacted by the climate change, is pragmatism rather than political statement, rather than emotional overarching messages, but practical, real, on-the-ground action that creates the necessary growth that we want to see in the world without impacting our climate and without impacting the wellbeing of everyone on this planet.

Laurel: And for you, Mr. Al Kaabi What are some innovations and emerging technologies (in decarbonization, hydrogen, renewable energy sources) that you look forward to seeing deployed as the 2030 benchmark approaches?

Mr. Musabbeh Al Kaabi: Well, ADNOC is proactively developing the market for hydrogen by pursuing a balanced strategy based on low-carbon and renewable hydrogen. So let me start with low-carbon ammonia. It has an important role as a stepping stone in the broader energy transition because it is cost competitive, can be scaled up quickly and has lower carbon intensity than many other fuel in the market. In addition, use of low carbon hydrogen now will help to create demand for this type of energy at scale, supporting the longer term commercialization of renewable hydrogen, which is also known as a green hydrogen. So in recent months, ADNOC has made a number of announcements in relation to clean ammonia and hydrogen that are helping to build the hydrogen value chain. We are a major shareholder in Masdar, a clean energy powerhouse that aims to produce 1 million tons of green hydrogen by 2030, saving an equivalent of more than 6 million tons of CO2 every year.

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