39576256fb868210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q3No easy answer to power cuts19576256fb868210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____No easy answer to power cutsNationwide energy conservation could alleviate the burden on our overtaxed power grid. But such measures are short-term solutions to a problem that only additional supply can resolve.<p>Sharjah's power woes have made us all acutely aware of the knock-on effects of rapid growth. And while the brunt of anger caused by four weeks of intermittent outages has been directed at the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, the problem is not particular to Sharjah. If it were, the emirate's deficiencies could be compensated for by either the Government or a neighbouring emirate. Ensuring that there is sufficient energy supply to meet demand is a national imperative, and one that will continue to present challenges in the near future.</p>
<p>The most obvious solution is to build more power plants, but that is far more complicated than it seems. The overwhelming majority of electricity is generated by gas turbines, but the country does not have the gas supply to meet current demand, let alone projected future demand.
Of course the UAE could import gas to cover the deficit, but that presents its own challenges. The Dolphin pipeline has provided an easy means of importing gas from Qatar, but there are limitations on how much gas can be delivered through it. Qatar has self-imposed restraints on its gas production and prefers to export most of it in the more profitable liquid form. Sharjah has tried to import gas from Iran, but those efforts have also stalled. Fujairah has looked to coal as a possible source of power. While coal is among the cheapest and most efficient forms of power generation, these plants take years to construct and are polluting.</p>
<p>Long-term development plans have taken into consideration a massive increase in supply; the last year's progress in winning approval for the civilian nuclear programme points the way ahead. Renewable and nuclear energy are the most practical long-term solutions, but it probably will take at least a decade before the UAE sees its first megawatt from either.
These are considerations that mean little to the family with children who can't sleep because of the heat, or to shopkeepers and factory owners whose businesses are suffering. Nationwide energy conservation could alleviate the burden on our overtaxed power grid. But such measures are short-term solutions to a problem that only additional supply can resolve - little comfort in this summer heat.</p>