UAE power, water provider Taqa seeks to cut emission by 2030

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The United Arab Emirates’ largest water and power provider aims to cut carbon emissions 25 percent by 2030 from 2019 levels as part of the oil-producing nation’s plan to be net zero mid-way through this century.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., known as Taqa, plans to build more solar plants and close power plants running on natural gas, Chief Executive Officer Jasim Husain Thabet said in an interview.

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The company, which has a $77 billion market valuation, will build about 9 gigawatts of solar power and phase out roughly 7 GW of conventional gas plants in this decade, Thabet said.

The UAE, OPEC’s largest producer after Saudi Arabia and Iraq, wants to reduce its economy’s dependence on fossil fuels by ploughing earnings into tech and manufacturing industries.

Even as it invests billion of dollars to raise production of oil and gas, the country has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It was the first state in the Arabian Gulf to make such a pledge, and was soon followed by Saudi Arabia. It’s a massive challenge in a region with some of the world’s highest per capita energy use and emissions -- in part because utilities burns huge amounts of fossil fuels for air conditioning and desalinating seawater.

“These are not just pledges,” Thabet said. It “makes economical sense and will give us returns and will be profitable.”

Taqa’s targets covers the emissions it produces by generating power and those from its own energy use, known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions. They exclude Scope 3 emissions, those that would be attributable to customers burning the oil and gas it pumps.

In July, the company said it would retain the majority of its oil and gas assets following a review, citing the strong contribution of those businesses to earnings.

It has gas operations in Canada, and runs oil fields in the North Sea and in the Kurdish region of Iraq. This month it announced it’d sell small upstream operations in the Netherlands.

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