The UAE needs to improve its energy mix for a more sustainable future

Published April 16th, 2013 - 07:27 GMT
Dubai’s power consumption of 33,498 had almost reached its capacity in 2011
Dubai’s power consumption of 33,498 had almost reached its capacity in 2011

UAE’s energy landscape that includes installed power generation capacity of 26,132 megawatts (MW) — powered by oil and gas, will change significantly towards a better mix within the next three years.

With the inauguration of Shams 1, the country’s first major solar power plant and the development of Mohammad Bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai, the country’s energy mix is already changing. However, the major push is going to come when the four nuclear powered power plants are commissioned progressively from 2017 to 2020, that will change the overall equation and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

“We are constantly looking to enhance the efficiency of renewable energy sources, and our recommendations have been translated into numerous initiatives,” Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, said. “We are working within a framework for energy demand management initiatives to decrease demand by 30 per cent by 2030, to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment, to offset the environmental challenges created by climate change.”

In addition to this, Dubai has implemented world-class practices in the field of sustainability, where the Supreme Council continues its efforts to reach the highest levels in this field according to its strategy, he said.


Power generation capacity in the UAE rose to 26,132 MW in 2011, of which 13,850 MW belonged to Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water Authority (Adwea) and 8,721 MW to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) has a capacity to generate 2,576 MW while the rest 985 belongs to the Federal Electricity and Power Authority (Fewa), according to the UAE Ministry of Energy.

Of this, 18,455 MW capacity is powered by combined cycle turbine while 5,401 MW capacity is fired by gas turbine. In 2011, power generated by the four power producers totalled 104,142 gigawatt hours (GWH), of which the majority or 56,576 GWH was produced by Adwea, followed by Dewa which had a production capacity of 34,606 GWH. However, the country’s energy consumption rose to 95,508 GWH.

Dubai’s power consumption of 33,498 had almost reached its capacity in 2011. However, the recent commissioning of Dewa’s M Station, which added a capacity of 2,060 MW, is good enough to meet the emirate’s future demand growth for a few more years to come.

However, Fewa’s annual production capacity of 2,540 GWH is far less compared to its annual consumption of 9,850 GWH, which is met by the national power grid.

“Energy demand management will be a major challenge to the Gulf power producers,” said Dr Michael Fubi, Chief Executive of RWE, a German power producer, which is closely working with Dewa. “For example, a 5 per cent annual growth in energy demand growth has been projected by Dewa for up to 2030 - which will put a lot of pressure on it to meet the demand continuously.”

The Ministry of Energy’s statistics also show a diverse pattern of energy consumption in different emirates. While residential sector consumes the highest energy in Abu Dhabi, about 16,018 GWH out of the total 43,245 GWH, in Dubai the commercial sector consumes the highest electricity, or 15,681 GWH out of the total 33,498 GWH consumption in the emirate.

The number of power subscribers in the UAE has reached 1.59 million in 2011, up from 1.51 million in 2010, the statistics show. Dubai has the highest number of electricity subscribers with 600,931, followed by 407,291 served by Adwea.

Adwea has remained the country’s biggest power supplier to other emirates. In 2011, it supplied 12,228 GWH of electricity to Sewa and Fewa which received 7,208 GWH.


In 2011, the UAE had 1,547 million imperial gallons of water per day (MIGD) production capacity, of which Abu Dhabi had 916 MIGD and Dubai had 432 MIGD. Water production rose 379,591 million imperial gallons (MIG), of which Abu Dhabi produced the bulk, or 231,538 MIG and Dubai producing 95,607 MIG.

Water consumption in the UAE reached at 347,867 MIG, well within the capacity, of which Abu Dhabi’s consumption reached 211,518 MIG and Dubai’s consumption reached 81,136 MIG.

The total number of water customers in the UAE reached 1.34 million in 2011, up from 1.25 million in 2010. Dubai has the highest number of customers, 532,885 while Sharjah has 325,492 followed by Abu Dhabi with 294,970 subscribers to water supply.

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