Dubai aims to supply 20 per cent of its energy needs from ultra-modern coal-fired power stations with the first plant to be in service by 2016, top officials said yesterday.
The emirate is evaluating high-efficiency generation from clean-burning coal and plans an initial station with a capacity of 1,500 megawatts, said Waleed Salman, a member of Dubai's Supreme Council of Energy.
Saeed al Tayer, the vice chairman of the council and chief executive of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), said diversifying the emirate's energy supply was the biggest target the council had set since it was formed last year.
"We think this is important for Dubai, so that we don't depend on just one energy source - gas," he said. "There is an orientation for clean coal."
The council is charged with strengthening energy security for Dubai, which has been grappling with regionally tight supplies of gas for power generation. The emirate's domestic oil and gas resources have declined in recent years and a new facility to import liquefied natural gas from overseas is being built.
Nuclear power will constitute another 20 per cent of Dubai's energy mix, Mr al Tayer said. He did not elaborate on whether Dubai would seek to build atomic power plants under the umbrella of the UAE's nuclear programme, or whether it would seek to import electricity produced by Abu Dhabi's proposed atomic facilities. He said nuclear energy was an attractive option for reducing Dubai's carbon footprint because it would not generate carbon dioxide emissions.
Abu Dhabi has selected a coastal site in its Western Region, far from Dubai, for the UAE's first four reactors. Khalid al Khaja, the executive vice president of DEWA, said the proposed coal-fired power plant would be the next to be built in Dubai following the large Hassyan gas-fired power development currently under construction. It is expected to be in service by 2015.
A technical team from DEWA has toured modern coal-fired plants in South Korea and China, and will soon do the same in Europe.
"In Korea and China we were quite happy with what we saw," said Mr al Khaja.
DEWA is conducting a feasibility study for a coal-fired power facility and plans to appoint a consultant to produce a "road map" for the project, he said. The consultant's recommendations would include where and how the emirate should source its supply of coal feedstock. One possibility would be for Dubai to develop its own mine in a country with extensive coal deposits such as India or South Africa.