Ras Al Khaimah is charting a course to a bright and sustainable future. At the heart of every decision made by the emirate’s leadership is the environment, with no effort being spared to safeguard its precious resources and enhance quality of life.
The emirate’s landmark Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040 puts Ras Al Khaimah at the vanguard of sustainability. The strategic plan, adopted in 2018, aims to cut energy use by 30%, water consumption by 20% and ensure 20% contribution from renewables by 2040. This aims to increase prosperity and spearhead sustainable development in the emirate.
Ras Al Khaimah Municipality is leading the strategy with its dedicated Energy Efficiency and Renewables Office (REEM), along with the cooperation of major entities, stakeholders and the public, all under the guidance and wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
“Energy and water are essential to our lives and prosperity,” said H.H. Sheikh Saud. “They are an integral part of the social and economic development that we aspire to, so we must preserve and invest in them.”
This important message has been taken on-board by entities across Ras Al Khaimah, with the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040 at the forefront of efforts to ensure sustainable development.
“The strategy stems from the vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi to have sustainability as a source of competitiveness for Ras Al Khaimah. This strategy is part of Ras Al Khaimah’s contribution to the UAE and the world’s climate change mitigation efforts. It addresses all energy and water consumers across Ras Al Khaimah,” said His Excellency Munther Mohammed bin Shekar, Director General of Ras Al Khaimah Municipality.
The Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy comprises nine programmes that aim to boost the emirate’s economic competitiveness by cutting costs associated with energy, renewable energy, and water while reducing dependence on electricity and fuel. The strategy also seeks to establish a new market for renewable energy products and services and upskill the local workforce and prepare them for these sectors.
The all-encompassing plan touches on practically every aspect of government policy and public life, with all of its programmes activated. The first is Barjeel. Introduced in 2019, Barjeel represents a rigorous set of green regulations for all new buildings in the emirate. All buildings constructed under Barjeel are expected to consume 30% less energy and water than a typical building, resulting in significantly lower utility bills.
A one-year voluntary phase of Barjeel was rolled out in 2019. During this period, Barjeel was applied to more than 270 pilot projects across Ras Al Khaimah, including villas, schools and hotels. The Municipality offered financial incentives to increase uptake, while public awareness campaigns were launched. Industry professionals and government officials were systematically trained via face-to-face sessions and through an online platform in the equipment and methods used to apply the Barjeel standards. By 2020, Barjeel became mandatory for ALL new buildings, with more than 2,000 buildings permitted so far.
“We are proud to say today that Barjeel is appreciated and recognized for its innovative approach among building regulations in the GCC region,” said Mohamed Nazmy, Building Permit Section Head at Ras Al Khaimah Municipality.
Another program in the strategy is Efficient Street Lighting. With the planned expansion of highways and roads’ lighting over the next few years, Ras Al Khaimah is committed to using highly efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in all new street-lighting projects. Reinforcing this commitment, Ras Al Khaimah Public Services Department has also embarked on a retrofit program. In 2019, 18 kilometres of streetlights were replaced with efficient LEDs. In addition, Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) has replaced conventional street lighting on around 50 kilometres of roads with energy-efficient LEDs in the industrial zones.
“We have installed cloud-based smart controls and a real-time monitoring system as part of this project. This not only improved the luminance level on the industrial zone roads, but it also resulted in direct energy savings of 70% and about 10% additional indirect savings from the improved lighting management, scheduling and controls,” said Eyad Ismail, Group Director of Engineering at RAKEZ.
A third major program under the strategy is Building Retrofits. The building stock in Ras Al Khaimah comprises varying levels of energy performance, with this presenting a huge opportunity to make existing buildings more energy-efficient. In 2019, retrofit works were completed on four Ras Al Khaimah Municipality buildings – this represented the first such scheme for government buildings in the emirate. Contracting for new retrofit projects is ramping up across the emirate, including at nine RAKEZ buildings and 15 RAK Academy buildings, with expected energy savings of 38% and 34%, respectively.
Progress is also being made in the residential sector. The Model Villa initiative, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi-based Masdar, aims to showcase the benefits of sustainability in private dwellings. Select villas are being retrofitted, and the hope is that the financial and environmental benefits of retrofitting will be understood and appreciated by the public.
“Masdar is proud to have launched the Model Villa initiative together with Ras Al Khaimah Municipality. We consider this a first step in educating residents about the benefits of retrofitting their homes,” said Yousef Baselaib, Executive Director, Sustainable Real Estate at Masdar.
These are just some of the programmes under the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040, which stems from H.H. Sheikh Saud’s vision to make sustainability a source of competitiveness for the emirate by reducing the cost of energy and water for consumers.
In addition to economic benefits, such a strategy also has environmental, social and health and safety benefits, such as positioning Ras Al Khaimah as an attractive place to live and work; creating a healthier indoor and outdoor environment; reducing the use of hazardous substances; implementing better waste management practices; and increasing the use of electric and fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040 is a clear and definitive plan that will shape Ras Al Khaimah’s development in the years to come, keeping the welfare of the public at the heart of decision-making while guiding the emirate to a green, sustainable and environmentally friendly future.