By Daniel McMurray
This is the question that Global EVRT’s groundbreaking eMobility Forum Dubai seeks to consider on January 24 as it brings together key leaders, influencers, and decision-makers from business, industry, and government to accelerate the transition to electric mobility.
Electric mobility is crucial for tackling climate change
Recent news from COP24 in Katowice, Poland, and from the IPCC has indicated that the window of opportunity for preventing runaway climate change could be as brief as a dozen years, unless we rapidly, radically, and comprehensively transform our society’s systems to a zero-carbon paradigm.
Foremost amongst the transformative changes that must happen include the way we generate, store, and distribute energy, and the way we transport people, products, and materials across the globe. Carbon emissions from the traditional fossil-fuel-burning energy and transport sectors are estimated to account for 25% and 15% of annual global CO2 buildup, respectively.
But two transformative shifts in energy and mobility give cause for hope.
In the field of energy, generation from wind, solar, tidal, and other zero-carbon renewable sources are expected to grow their share of global electricity generation from 25% in 2017 to 30% by 2023. But these estimates could be wildly conservative given the near-exponential rates of increase already in renewable generation capacity, coupled with near-exponential decreases in the price of renewable energy generation per kilowatt-hour. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) says that 50% of the world’s energy will come from solar and wind alone by 2050, but this could also be wildly conservative if new innovations in renewable energy storage bear fruit at scale. Also, even BNEF’s renewable energy forecasts have been too conservative for reality.
In the field of mobility, game-changing innovations in electric vehicle production along with very rapid advancements in autonomous, connected, and smart mobility are also happening at exponential rates.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that electric vehicles will grow from around 3 million today to 125 million by 2030, with many national governments, sub-national governments, and corporations vowing to go fully electric by then, or not long thereafter.
Amongst the many countries with ambitious goals for electric mobility, there is one candidate that we think could surprisingly become the world leader.
The oil-rich United Arab Emirates.
Although the UAE has traditionally generated a large proportion of its national wealth and GDP from oil and gas, its governmental leadership sees the need to diversify the economy, improve environmental quality, and tackle climate change. In the last few years, it has made some of the world’s largest investments in solar power, approving the two largest solar projects on the planet in 2017. In addition, the UAE (and Dubai in particular) has set some of the most ambitious goals for clean transport.
Here are 5 reasons why the UAE, and especially Dubai, could well become the world leader in next-generation, zero-emission, electric, connected, autonomous mobility:
1. The Dubai Green Mobility Strategy 2030
The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy has issued a directive that all government institutions must ensure that 10% of all newly purchased cars will be electric or hybrid from 2016 to 2020. Under the umbrella of the Supreme Council of Energy, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is working on implementing the Dubai Green Mobility Initiative to promote the use of electric and hybrid vehicles. This supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which is for Dubai to have the lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050, and the Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy to cut carbon emissions by 16% by 2021.
The impact of this strategy is already being felt, with Dubai Police recently adding 8 electric Chevrolet Bolts to their already impressive fleet of hybrid and low-emission vehicles. Dubai Police also has a mandate to transform the entire fleet of vehicles to EVs and hybrids over the coming years. Brigadier Dr. Muhammad Nasser Al Razooqi, Director of Transport and Rescue, said: “This partnership with Chevrolet is part of our ongoing commitment to better serve the citizens and residents of Dubai while also leading the way in Dubai’s green initiative. The addition of eight Chevrolet Bolt EV cars to our Dubai Police electric fleet will make a big impact in our mission to raise awareness around the benefits of electrification within the Emirate.”
2. The Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy
The strategy aims to transform 25% of the total transportation in Dubai to autonomous mode by 2030, involving 5 million daily trips, saving AED 22 billion ($6 billion) in annual economic costs, and positioning the government of Dubai as a global leader in autonomous, low-carbon, electric transportation. The strategy will help cut transportation costs by 44%, resulting in savings of up to AED 900 million ($245 million) a year. It will also help save AED 1.5 billion ($408 million) a year by reducing environmental pollution by 12%, as well as generating AED 18 billion ($4.9 billion) in annual economic returns by increasing the efficiency of the transportation sector in Dubai by 2030.
Masdar City in Abu Dhabi recently launched a fleet of autonomous pods from French company Navya, and not to be outdone, Dubai is looking to become a hub for smart, autonomous transport solutions. To this end, they have launched the Dubai World Challenge for Self Driving Transport. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) recently announced 17 finalists for the first global self-driving transport challenge across four categories, with the winner of the first category getting to be part of Dubai’s first and last mile fleet, besides walking away with a million dollars.
Announced in February last year, the preliminary round of the challenge saw 65 participants from across the world, including industry leaders and startups as well as international and local universities.
Part of Dubai’s strategy to broaden the horizon for self-driving or driverless technology, the $5.1 million (Dh18.71) challenge is the first of its kind, a global contest that aims to make Dubai a hub for smart transport solutions.
3. Charging infrastructure
The UAE has one of the highest concentration of EV charging points in the world. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) recently announced the completion of the second phase of its “Green Charger” initiative, which included the installation of an additional 100 EV Green Charger stations across Dubai. With the completion of the project, the total number of charging stations in Dubai has doubled from 100 to 200. The initiative contributes to DEWA’s efforts to encourage environmentally friendly electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions and to support sustainable modes of transport.
4. New suite of incentives and exciting new models coming to market to encourage a switch to electric vehicles
EV drivers in Dubai already receive a raft of benefits, such as: free charging at 200 charging stations in Dubai until end of 2019, an extra 3 years warranty for EVs in Dubai, savings of Dh22,000 ($6,000) on total cost of ownership, free vehicle registration and renewal, free parking spots, and a unique parking sticker.
Ivano Iannelli, CEO of Dubai Carbon, recently told media that automotive giants like Mercedes, BMW, and General Motors are all set to bring their new EVs to the market. “General Motors introduced 12 new e-car models lately. At least 55 new models will be in the markets in the next 18 months with a lot more expected in 2020,” he said.
Under the E-Sayyara campaign, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DCSE) is working closely with the automakers to improve supply of electric cars, aiming to bring 270,000 electrified models on the road by 2030.
“There are sports enthusiasts, 4×4 drivers, tech savvies, and tree huggers; everyone has a different relationship to transport and should be approached differently,” Iannelli said. The authorities will offer such incentives, which would make it easier for residents to adopt green mobility.
5. UAE businesses are getting on board
For many businesses in the UAE, it has been difficult to understand how to build a good business case for transforming their fleets to electric vehicles. Many have struggled to compare total cost of ownership (factoring in lifetime maintenance, fuel, insurance, resale value, leasing options, regulatory issues, availability of suitable models and tax and incentives) vs upfront costs. Many of the new incentives forming part of the government’s e-Sayyara campaign and Green Mobility Strategy will have a positive impact, as will increasing availability and diversity of vehicle models and types. Many leading businesses are already seeing a switch to EVs as great for CSR, brand image, and their corporate commitment to reducing CO2 emissions. A number of emerging apps, software, and digital platforms to better manage their EV fleets are also making life easier for business.
Leading companies in the automobile, transport, mobility, leasing, car hire, logistics, infrastructure, and facilities management sectors — such as Careem, ekar, Amazon, Bee’ah, FARNEK, Mott MacDonald, Parsons, and many more — are factoring EVs and low-carbon vehicles into their current and future mobility plans and offerings.
We invite you to join us at eMobility Forum Dubai to hear how these and many other companies and government agencies are working together to accelerate electric mobility in Dubai.
Join the conversation, share your insights and experience, have your key questions answered, and be part of the cross-sector collaboration that will help Dubai become the world leader in electric, smart, and autonomous mobility.
More information or register at: EVRT Dubai eMobility Forum here.
This post is published in partnership with EVRT. Images from EVRT.
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