The Dubai utility company gets nine bids from international groups for consultancy role.
DEWA seeks advice on coal power project
Dubai's utility company will appoint a consultant to advise on the generation of power from coal. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) received nine bids from international groups hoping to be appointed to the role, which could lead to the construction of the emirate's first coal-fired plant.
The plan to generate electricity using coal is part of a wider effort to diversify the UAE's power supply and maintain its energy sources until planned nuclear power plants are activated.
"This study is a key step towards the implementation of the energy diversification strategy adopted by Dubai's Supreme Council of Energy, in which coal is set to become part of Dubai's energy portfolio," said Saeed Mohammed al Tayer, DEWA's chief executive.
"The strategy aims to diversify energy sources to ensure energy supply and meet the growing energy demands in the Emirate of Dubai."
The UAE aims to secure a supply of power until its nuclear plants come online, currently expected to be in 2017. The Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority also plans to build a 600-megawatt coal power plant.
Some analysts are sceptical, however, that coal power can become anything more than a stopgap measure for UAE energy policy.
"In the current energy mix in all the GCC countries, coal plays no role at the moment," said Christian von Tschirschky, the head of utilities at A T Kearney consultancy. "Everyone depends mainly on burning gas and oil. The future will be the expansion towards nuclear energy and solar.
"When you look towards the future, they have an energy gap between demand and supply, but the UAE's nuclear plants and good interconnection with its GCC neighbours will be able to close this. However, this coal plant can be one element [of that]."