Green leader: Dubai’s push for sustainability
DEWA’s MD and CEO Al Tayer on making the UAE a global leader in sustainability with groundbreaking programs.
Situated amidst some of the world’s biggest producers of fossil fuels, the United Arab Emirates and Dubai’s state-run corporation, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), have chosen to embrace the energy transition and lead from the front on the path towards a sustainable energy future, says DEWA’s Managing Director and CEO Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer.
As the head of a utility that is pursuing innovation and significant clean energy targets, how concerned are you about climate change and the ability of the global community to meet this challenge?
Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues, with widespread consequences already becoming apparent. Changing weather patterns can bring famine, floods, and irreversible changes in major ecosystems affecting health, agriculture, economy, society, and biodiversity.
The UAE aspires to become the world leader in sustainable development and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. The UAE National Climate Change Plan 2050 reflects our aim to combat climate change and achieve sustainable development through enhanced cooperation between the private and public sectors. The UAE played an important role in the negotiations that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement.
In Dubai, the security of supply is a top priority. We also want to be a global role model in energy efficiency, reliability, green economy, and sustainability. We are diversifying the energy mix through programs to ensure clean energy pro-vides 7 percent of Dubai’s total power output by 2020, 25 percent by 2030, and 75 percent by 2050. We are optimizing energy efficiency and aim to reduce power and water consumption by 30 percent by 2030, while the Carbon Abatement Strategy is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 16 percent by 2021.
We want to be a global role model in energy efficiency, reliability, green business, and sustainability.H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority
How is DEWA supporting the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 through the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park and the Green Hydrogen project?
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world based on the independent power producer model, has a planned production capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030. It will help transform Dubai into a global hub for clean energy and green business by providing 75 percent of Dubai’s total power output from clean energy by 2050.
The solar park with its significant production capacity is the first of its kind in the region, and the first of many projects to boost reliance on renewables to generate electricity in Dubai. It features an innovation center with a budget of US$136 million for clean energy technologies, including facilities for concentrated solar power as well as water and environmental research. Research will also focus on the use of solar for 3D printing and water desalination.
With the Green Hydrogen project, DEWA has also begun building the first solar-powered hydrogen electrolysis facility in the MENA region, in collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai and Siemens. It supports our efforts in innovation, research, and development of energy storage and sustainability, which are among the themes of Expo 2020 Dubai, and will help us host one of the most sustainable world expos in history.
H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer is the Managing Director and CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). He has headed Dubai’s state-run corporation since 1992. In 1999, he founded the Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX), of which he is the chairman. This event will take place for the 21st time from October 21 to 23, 2019. Al Tayer is also a board member of several oil and commodities companies.
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has more than 900,000 customers. In the past 15 years, the utility’s installed power generation capacity from gas turbines, steam turbines, and solar PV has grown from 3,833 MW (2004) to 11,400 MW (2019). In 2018, DEWA achieved an electricity line loss rate of 3.3 percent, compared to 6–7 percent in Europe and the USA. Over the next five years, AED86 billion (US$23.4 billion) will be invested to meet growing demand for electricity and water in the emirate.
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With the Green Hydrogen project, DEWA has also begun building the first solar-powered hydrogen electrolysis facility in the MENA region.H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority
How do you incorporate sustainability and clean energy into the everyday life of residents? How do you encourage people to pay attention to climate change?
Sustainability has always been an integral part of our strategy. We want to be a global role model in energy efficiency, reliability, green economy, and sustainability, hence our plan to generate 75 percent of Dubai’s total power from clean energy sources by 2050. We are committed to optimizing energy efficiency and have adopted a demand-side management strategy to reduce power and water consumption by 30 percent by 2030 as well as the Carbon Abatement Strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 16 percent by 2021.
We are also proud of our accomplishments in solar power. This is especially the case as Dubai has developed the regulations for people to install solar panels in their homes, to generate solar power and connect it to our power grid. We launched this initiative, called Shams Dubai, to support the Smart Dubai initiative. The electricity is used on-site and the surplus is exported to our net-work. An offset between exported and imported electricity units is conducted and the customer account is settled based on this offset. Another important initiative is the Green Charger initiative to promote green transportation with an electric vehicle-charging infrastructure across Dubai, of which 200 stations are already installed. In the past decade, we’ve matched our efforts to promote environmental and sustainability awareness and responsible use of natural resources, especially water, with conservation programs that achieved savings of 2 terawatt-hours of electricity and 28 billion liters of water between 2009 and 2018.
Christopher Findlay is an independent journalist based in Zurich, Switzerland.
Combined picture and video credits: DEWA, Getty Images/Alex Pidgeon/National Geographic, IRENA, Expo 2020