Cleantech investments started gaining popularity in the early 2000s as a promising sector for investors looking for green and clean technologies. However, the global financial crisis of 2008 caused the collapse of this sector. In the past five years, there has been a rise in climate tech investments. The UAE is one of the countries that recognized the potential of the cleantech sector. Waste-to-energy projects, water and wastewater treatment, and waste management and recycling are some of the key areas where cleantech companies can focus their efforts.
Energy Recovery Projects
One of the significant opportunities for cleantech companies in the UAE is waste-to-energy projects. The Emirates Water & Electricity Company (EWEC) and Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center (Tadweer) have announced plans to construct two of the region’s largest waste-to-energy power plants to reduce waste to landfills and decrease CO2 emissions. The new EWEC plant in Abu Dhabi is expected to process up to 900,000 metric tons of waste annually, enough to generate power to approximately 22,500 homes.
Water Purification and Filtration
The UAE faces water scarcity and limited natural resources, with regulations notably restricting groundwater use. The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) and EWEC are working on improving the efficiency of desalination plants to enhance the country’s water security agenda. The UAE launched the Water Security Strategy 2036 to ensure sustainability and continuous access to water during normal and emergency conditions.
One of the crucial projects undertaken by Abu Dhabi’s Sewerage and Services Company (ADSSC) is the Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Program (STEP) to increase the capacity for wastewater collection and treatment.
Waste Management and Recycling
The UAE's waste management has been an issue, with gaps in policies, infrastructure, and processes. However, the UAE has taken steps to improve this area by developing robust recycling and waste management industries. Waste management is coordinated through individual local authorities and municipalities in each emirate. The government is seeking new technologies to recycle wastewater and improve wastewater treatment. Treated wastewater caters to the industrial and agricultural requirements of the country, and developing and expanding wastewater collection and treatment networks is key to managing scarce water resources.
The world is waking up to the fact that our planet is in trouble
Climate change is wreaking havoc on our environment, and it's up to us to take action. Thankfully, some companies are stepping up to the plate and fighting the sustainability fight in unique ways. Here are a few that we would like to highlight:
GoReccap: Turning Recycling into a Game
GoReccap.com is a startup digital service sustainability company that's using gamification and reward systems to promote waste reduction and recycling in the UAE. They believe that educating the public about recycling and waste reduction is crucial, and their platform offers a unique advantage in this regard. GoReccap uses contests and rewards to encourage people to recycle and make the process fun and rewarding. They also work with schools and businesses to raise awareness and educate younger generations on the importance of recycling.
Udrive: Affordable and Accessible Mobility for All
Udrive is a car rental start-up based in the UAE that's aiming to provide accessible and affordable mobility to everyone. Their innovative business model provides on-demand car rentals through a completely digital interface, allowing customers to pay for rentals by the minute or by the day. Udrive incentivizes customers to refuel the car and offers free credit to reimburse customers. It also pays for parking, regardless of where the customer parks in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The company's focus on providing accessible and affordable mobility solutions is rooted in its philosophy that mobility is a human right.
Terra Tech: Revolutionizing Transportation
Terra Tech Ltd is focused on revolutionizing the standard transportation system towards a sustainable and innovative mobility future. They've implemented a swapping system for batteries that enables drivers to easily change them when needed, reducing downtime. They've also tackled the mileage issue, which was a critical problem for delivery drivers who needed to travel 250-300 kilometers daily. Their vision is to provide mobility solutions that are specific to every region and country, reducing carbon emissions and making mobility accessible to everyone.
The Future of Sustainability Tech in the UAE
The growing awareness of climate change has spawned new firms and attracted VC interest. According to PwC's State of Climate Tech 2022, over US$260 billion in VC money has been injected into climate tech companies since the start of 2018. Climate tech is a sub-segment of cleantech that focuses on technology specifically working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2022, more than a quarter of total global VC funding went toward climate technology.
Championing the success of its founders, Hub71 is a global tech ecosystem that enables tech startups to scale globally from the UAE's capital. Backed by the government of Abu Dhabi and Mubadala Investment Company, Hub71 has impact built into its DNA. Today, the ecosystem is home to over 200 startups operating in sectors of strategic importance and contributing to the diversification of Abu Dhabi's economy.
These companies are making a significant impact in their respective fields, and we can only hope that more companies will follow their lead. By promoting sustainability, they're not only helping the environment, but they're also making the world a better place for everyone.