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UAE’s Net-zero vision for 2050

The UAE has launched a ‘Net-Zero by 2050’ strategic initiative, which is led by The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) & aligned with the Paris Agreement. The initiative is a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with energy efficiency in buildings being one of its important pillars. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change emphasizes the need of reaching net-zero emissions, requiring countries to “establish a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.” The imperative emphasizes the importance of using renewable energy sources and using that energy more efficiently.

What are the drivers behind the idea of net-zero goals?

In 2021 and 2022, global energy demand is expected to rise by an astounding 5% and 4%, respectively. What scares more is that 99% of the energy consumed in the UAE is produced using non-renewable sources of energy, namely Petroleum & Natural Gas. This is directly leading to increased CO2 emissions. Though there has been an inclination in the UAE to inculcate the use of cleaner/ renewable sources of energy for the last 15 years, still today, it has just been able to secure ~1% share in the total energy consumption.

With CO2 emissions reaching new highs, global warming is expected to exceed 1.5 °C, compared to pre-Industrial Revolution values. If this continues to rise, it might pose a serious hazard to humanity and the environment. These figures were the inspiration for the idea of net-zero energy.

Another contributor to high emission levels is inefficient operations in large commercial & industrial buildings. Commercial & Industrial sectors are the 2nd & 3rd largest electricity consumers in the middle east, consuming ~600TWh energy. According to a survey by EBGC, poor performing hotels in UAE consumed 3 times the amount of energy (in kWh/m2.year) consumed by the best performing hotels. Survey also showed that Dubai’s five-star hotels consume up to 225% more energy compared to their five-star counterparts in Europe. HVAC systems have been identified as a major contributor to hotels’ energy consumption where, generally, 35 to 50% of total consumption is used for cooling in hotels situated in hot and humid climates. In the UAE, this percentage is even higher and was estimated to reach 70% in a typical four-star hotel.

Besides high energy consumption, inefficient operations in these commercial & industrial facilities also result in multiple other challenges such as suboptimal comfort compliances, unforeseen & frequent asset breakdown, etc. which eventually will not only impact the bottom line of their organization but also drive them away from achieving their sustainability goals, by substantially increasing their direct & indirect carbon emissions.

How to Achieve Net Zero Energy in Buildings?

The Internet of Things has become a vital component in the effort to achieve net-zero emissions. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that when it comes to sustainable transformation, the combination of green technology and renewable energy is a force to be reckoned with, and this is increasingly being recognized by global business leaders.

Large commercial properties, such as manufacturing factories, warehouses, hotels, malls and retail stores, use energy in unsustainable ways i.e. assets running outside operational hours, lights turned on in naturally bright spaces, and so forth. This is where the Internet of Things will be a vital tool in achieving net-zero energy. This is because the Internet of Things (IoT) uses real-time data to improve procedures and decision-making. As a result, the energy sector can move away from a dated centralized system to distributed, smart, and integrated networks. Using IoT and AI/ ML-driven advanced algorithms, we can collect and analyze the energy usage trends of different assets over different time scales using. These insights generated can significantly help effectively optimize the energy consumption by different assets in the building.

The whole idea revolves around, “More Efficiency + Less Consumption = More Carbon Neutrality”.

Let’s deep dive into two use cases of IoT to achieve efficiency & sustainability

1) Energy Consumption Monitoring & Control

It’s a game-changer to have real-time visibility of power-consuming patterns of multiple assets on a centralized system. It gives information on inefficient building equipment (like those consuming excessive energy), assets that need maintenance or immediate attention, comparisons of how different facilities perform, and much more. These insights not only help to improve immediate suboptimal operations but also help identify energy-saving opportunities for the future. Moreover, custom centralized dashboards’ make reporting and automation of multiple assets much easier than traditional methods.

For example, in commercial buildings, HVAC systems often consume a significant amount of energy. As a result, controlling HVAC systems is critical to lowering electricity consumption. IoT devices have the potential to help control energy losses from HVAC systems. IoT powered sensors and actuators, for example, can automatically adjust the chiller valves and AHUs based on building occupancy, and turn off air conditioners in unused rooms, resulting in significant energy savings.

2) Asset Health Monitoring & Predictive Maintenance

By real-time monitoring of assets, recognizing anomalies, and taking proactive action, you can avoid equipment downtime while enhancing its overall efficacy. It’s fairly simple that by tracking how an asset is performing now, we can predict how it will perform in the future. This not only helps facility managers prioritize their asset repair, but also provides automated alerts and digital ticketing workflows in case of anomaly detection. These forecasts are made with a digital representation of a real asset, allowing you to predict when maintenance will be required when problems will occur when energy will be utilized excessively, and so on.

The whole idea revolves around, “Less Maintenance + Longer Asset Life = More Savings and Fewer Emissions”.

The UAE leads the way in the Middle East towards a sustainable lifestyle, we now have a country that is committed to a zero-emission future. We agree with the Paris Agreement, it is important to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This initiative indicates more energy-efficient buildings that will not only reduce energy bills but will make our environment cleaner and greener by reducing carbon footprint consequences. Overall UAE is moving forward and promoting green initiatives demonstrating the importance of combating climate change together.

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