The construction of the $3.4 billion Hassyan plant in Dubai appears puzzling, as the United Arab Emirates hosts the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency.
It’s also building the peninsula’s first nuclear power plant and endlessly promotes its vast solar-power plant named after Dubai’s ruler. Dubai has also set the lofty goal of having the world’s lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050 — something that would be impacted by burning coal.
The coal plant’s arrival comes as Gulf Arab nations remain among the world’s hungriest for energy and amid political concerns over the use of natural gas imported from abroad, concerns underscored by a yearslong dispute with gas-producer Qatar, which is boycotted by four Arab nations, including the UAE.
“Dubai was really saying we’re far too exposed on gas imports, those could be interrupted by all kinds of things, the cost is very high and so we have to do something else to diversify our fuel supply and bring down the total cost,” said Robin Mills, the CEO of Qamar Energy, a Dubai-based consulting company. “They got a very competitive offer on the coal plant … and so the decision was made.”
“If they were making the decision today, would they make the same decision? Probably not, to be honest,” Mills said. “But once it was committed and once it was substantially down the road, then they had to see it through.”
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the sheikhdom’s state-run utility, did not respond to Associated Press requests for comment…
The Hassyan power plant is being built in part by China, which describes the plant as a “major engineering project of the Belt and Road Initiative,” a project which seeks to expand its influence in Africa and Asia. China anticipates that the plant, which has General Electric Co. involved in its construction, will meet 20% of Dubai’s electrical demand.