The UAE was among the world’s largest investors in clean energy last year after giving the go ahead for the two biggest solar projects globally, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
The emirates saw a 23-fold increase in investment to $2.2bn, placing it ahead of countries including Norway, Argentina, Switzerland, Chile, Austria, Spain and Indonesia.
Turkey, Italy and Egypt stood just ahead with investments of $2.3bn, $2.5bn and $2.6bn respectively.
Last year, the UAE began work on the 800MW third phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, worth an estimated $968m.
The project is being developed by Shuaa Energy 2 – a joint venture established between DEWA (with a 60 per cent stake) and a Masdar-led consortium which also includes Electricite de France (EDF)’s subsidiary EDF Energies Nouvelles.
In neighbouring Abu Dhabi, the state utility also closed financing for the 1.2GW Adwea Sweihan plant, described as the world’s largest solar power plant.
A consortium of Japan’s Marubeni Corp and China’s JinkoSolar Holding were selected to build and operate the facility, worth $899m.
UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazrouei told The National the country expects to tender at least 1GW of renewable projects a year as part of a wider goal to generate 44 per cent of power from renewables by 2050.
Gas is currently used to meet 98 per cent of the UAE’s energy needs.
Globally, BNEF said investment in renewable and energy-smart technologies increase 3 per cent in 2017 from $324.6bn to $333.5bn.
This was 7 per cent short of a record $360.3bn reached in 2015.
Solar investment accounted for $160.8bn of the total, up 18 per cent despite cost reductions, and just over half of this total ($86.5bn) was spent in China after a 58 per cent increase in photovoltaic capacity installed.
Globally China also led the list for clean energy investment, with a 24 per cent increase to $132.6bn. It was followed by the US where clean energy investment was up 1 per cent to $56.9bn.
Investment in Australia was up 150 per cent to $9bn and in Mexico 516 per cent to $6.2bn. However, investment in Japan decreased by 16 per cent to $23.4bn, Germany 26 per cent to $14.6bn and the UK 56 per cent to $10.3bn.