Renewable Energy Advantages Essay

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To better understand my field of research my literature review will focus background of the UAE's geopolitical position regarding renewable energy and renewable energy development in the UAE. The order of the review will be as follows, the background, process of economic adaptation, and the current development.

The fossil fuel sector throughout the last century has been one of the most contested sector resources ever. Fossil fuel is of critical importance as a source of energy to the functioning of economies and societies and therefore gives energy suppliers significant coercive power. In Sweijs et al. (2014) the data shows that the UAE has 97,800 million barrels of crude oil in its reserves being the 5th highest in the world. Since the distribution of oil fields was never equal, to begin with, and some locations had an innate advantage over others in combination with oil being an energy source that is key to the basic functioning of economics and societies in general, the ones who control oil would have significant political influence and power. Most of the UAE’s economy is made up of fossil fuel and with the world moving into clean energy the UAE would have to adapt to survive. The quantitative data in this study is very effective in showing the contemporary value of fossil fuels however a weakness in this study is that there is a clear agenda behind the study and therefore could have biases.

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The UAE is as dependent on Oil to run their society as most other nations are, however, the difference is that in the UAE oil is also their primary export, therefore there is an extra layer of complexity in its position to convert to renewable energy. The first signs of oil beginning to lose its value and its value was in the oil revenue in the UAE dropped 30% from the 1970s to 1990s Haouas & Heshmati, (2014). This called for the first signs of economic diversification in the UAE and the Middle East in general. Haouas & Heshmati, (2014) concluded that it was during this time that the UAE realized that their oil exports are very vulnerable to external economic shocks which have negatively impacted the state's return on investment and GDP volatility. This research’s strength is that through the quantitative data, I have a good idea of the value of oil throughout time. The weaknesses are that this study’s usefulness as it is only an account of the past and limited to a piece of background information.

On the topic of economic diversification, the UAE’s transformation of Dubai from an oil economy to a service-based economy shows the possibility of an economy possible. Overall, according to Ali, S (2016) traditionally declarations of people’s willingness to challenge a fossil fuel economy in the Middle East are rare, and open criticisms would not be allowed, however, it seems that in the Arab world people’s declaration of their willingness to challenge and change the fossil fuel economy indicates that times have changed and even politics have to change to maintain the economy. The strength of this study is that it brings a political perspective on managing a fossil fuel economy and the changes that must be taken for the sake of the economy. The weakness is that this is a brief study and that there isn’t much on the economic impacts as the study focuses on climate change.

With the recognition that there needs to be economic diversification for the country to mitigate economic risk, we begin to have a foundation for moving away from fossil fuels. In recent years with more investments towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuel the UAE’s economy would naturally decline. With the Middle East being a desert environment Hamid, M. (2009), the study suggests that the geographical location of the Middle East is ideal for solar and wind power as well as it is financially viable. Some practical uses of renewable energy in the region are the osmosis desalination units in Bahrain using solar power which can pump out 200 gallons a day with 1.5 kilowatts and another in Oman using thermal and solar power to create a photovoltaic system with a capacity of 253 kilowatts made to pump water, electricity, and communications (Hamid, M. 2009). The strengths of this study are that it verifies the practicality for the UAE to be able to convert to renewable energy as a main source of energy, with real-world examples for the application of renewable energy in the traditional fossil fuel sector study make. The weaknesses of this study are the examples are limited in one field of business and therefore we are unable to know the full extent of its application.

A study by Gaub, F (2020) stated that with the trend of solar energy in the Middle East gaining traction, the UAE is on track to have 30% of its energy usage come from the sun, by 2024 Saudi Arabia originally planned to use nuclear energy to replace their fossil fuel dependency had also changed to focus exclusively on solar energy projects in 2021. The quantitative data shows that even fossil fuel-dependent economies are taking action to transition to sustainable energy and that the UAE is making great progress in moving away from fossil fuels. However, the only weakness of this article is that the numbers given are just predictions therefore the actual results may vary.

The UAE is one of the leading nations in the Middle East for renewable energy currently the country is taking a giant leap to build a city that runs on nothing but solar energy. In Seznec, J (2018) it is said that Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy developer Marsar will build a city housing 50,000 residents, costing about 16.5 billion. Along with this in 2020 the company will build a pipeline to Bainounah providing 200MW through solar power, for comparison Joardon in 2016 has a total of 494.9MW of renewable capacity in 2016 combining solar, wind, hydro, and bioenergy. The quantitative data on the renewable energy capacity in Jordan shows that the UAE’s solar power technology has made great progress in renewable energy development. However, the data lacks a standard to compare the numbers to which makes it hard to grasp the scale of this project.

Financially renewable energy is falling in cost in comparison to fossil fuel making it a more attractive purchase overall. In Thomas, K. (2018)’s study it is explained that while per unit of coal, it might still be cheaper than renewable energy however at least in the case of a thermal power plant has an efficiency of only 40% while the output of electricity as 2.5 times that output and in combination with unlike coal combustion, electricity is much more stable, easier to control, higher output and produce less pollution. Renewable energy has such great advantages over fossil fuels. Losing the performance and the cost advantages, the oil will no longer be a desirable option when considering the shortcomings. The change in oil desirability will no doubt affect the UAE’s economy considering a large percentage of its exports today is made up of fossil fuels. The strength of this study is that through quantitative data the study proves that the new renewable energy is much more efficient and cheaper to run than the traditional fossil fuel option, the weakness is that as derived data uses existing information there was no factoring in the cost of conversion from fossil fuel into renewable and its effects in a large scale making it an incomplete solution.

With great potential in the renewable energy market would naturally bring investors who wish to capitalize on it. Currently, in the Middle East, many institutions are involved in the field of renewable energy development. Many companies are entering the market and seeing the potential. (Seznec, J. 2018) showed many examples such as Solon, Almaden Mena FZE for example. As well as in the consumer market, the Gulf especially has increasingly been promoting renewables research. And even state organizations and departments are focusing on renewable energies. The strengths of the study are that they covered a lot of grounds on the development of the renewable market in the Middle East in general, from private investment, research, and from the government, however, a weakness of this study is that it does not tell us the scale of these operations which limits the application of this information.

In conclusion, my perspective of the matter is that I agree with the importance of economic diversification, government support in the renewable energy sector, and private investment in renewable energy in the UAE. Overall I want to build upon by researching non-economical effects such as the political and social-cultural aspect of my question as I believe that there is a lack of research on that.

References

    1. Sweijs, T., De Ridder, M., De Jong, S., Oosterveld, W., Frinking, E., Auping, W., . . . Ilko, I. (2014). TIME TO WAKE UP: THE GEOPOLITICS OF EU 2030 CLIMATE AND ENERGY POLICIES (pp. 36-43, Rep.). Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Retrieved March 31, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/resrep12581.6
    2. Haouas, I. and Heshmati, A., 2020. Can The UAE Avoid The Oil Curse Through Economic Diversification?. [online] Anon-ftp.iza.org. Available at: [Accessed 1 April 2020].
    3. Ali, S. (2016). Reconciling Islamic Ethics, Fossil Fuel Dependence, and Climate Change in the Middle East. Review of Middle East Studies, 50(2), 172-178. Retrieved March 31, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/26252247
    4. Hamid, M. (2009). Troubled Waters: Climate Change, Hydropolitics, and Transboundary Resources (pp. 45-60, Rep.) (Michel D. & Pandya A., Eds.). Stimson Center. Retrieved March 31, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/resrep10999.9
    5. Cuyler, Z. (2016). The Arab World's Non-Linear Electricity Transitions. Middle East Report, (280), 17-24. Retrieved April 5, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/44578011
    6. GAUB, F. (2020). WHAT IF …?: 14 futures for 2024 (pp. 32-36, Rep.) (Gaub F., Ed.). European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS). doi:10.2307/resrep21146.8
    7. Seznec, J. (2018). Renewable Energy in the Middle East (pp. 4-16, Rep.). Atlantic Council. Retrieved April 5, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/resrep16781.4
    8. Thomas, K. 2018. Progress Of Renewable Electricity Replacing Fossil Fuels. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 March 2020].
    9. Thomas, K. 2018. Progress Of Renewable Electricity Replacing Fossil Fuels. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 March 2020].
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