x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

More power capacity needed soon

Abu Dhabi will need to build three more power plants to keep up with rising consumption.

Abu Dhabi must build three power stations in the next seven years to keep pace with rapid development, unprecedented demand from the oil sector and the needs of the other emirates, officials say. The 11.3 per cent growth in peak electricity consumption in the emirate this year outpaced Dubai and the other emirates, Keith Miller, the director of planning and studies at Abu Dhabi Water Electricity Company (ADWEC), said yesterday.

ADWEC also boosted summertime exports of power to the rest of the country by 35 per cent, he said. "Abu Dhabi electricity demand has been little, if not at all, impacted by the financial crisis," Mr Miller said. "In future we expect electricity demand to grow faster than in the past." Growth would average 11 per cent over the next few decades, he said, compared with 7.4 per cent in the past. The huge increase in consumption would probably require three power stations to be built in the next six to seven years in addition to plants already under construction, said Nick Carter, the director general of the Regulation and Supervision Bureau, which oversees the Abu Dhabi power and water sector.

The rate of increase was "a huge challenge for the sector", he said. The capacity increase raises questions about the energy source that will feed the power plants. The UAE will not have its first operating nuclear power plant until 2017 at the earliest and gas supplies are running short. Experts say renewable energy sources are unlikely to provide more than the targeted amount of 7 per cent of power by 2020, suggesting the country will need to either reduce demand or turn to oil-fired power stations.

Using oil as the fuel of choice in the emirate's next power plant was "a possibility", said Abdulla al Nuaimi, an official at the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), on Tuesday. He emphasised that no final decision had been taken. ADWEC, an ADWEA subsidiary, expects to more than double exports to the other emirates from 1,300 megawatts this year to 2,800mw in 2014, Mr Miller said.

It increased peak exports to the beleaguered Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority by more than 70 per cent this summer to 480mw, he said, and boosted supply to the Federal Electricity and Water Authority, which covers the Northern Emirates, by 151mw to 909mw. ADWEC also exported 25mw to Dubai, Mr Miller said. Referring to the chronic and acute power shortages in Sharjah, Mr Miller said: "You can clearly see - the extent of support the emirate of Abu Dhabi is giving to Sharjah in summer months."

Even as it grapples with increased domestic demand and the needs of the rest of the country, the utility will also face a jump in consumption from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), which has traditionally generated its own power and will receive only 133mw this year from ADWEA. ADNOC has requested 2,500mw to power onshore oil drilling and downstream expansions in Ruwais by 2014, Mr Miller said, more than the capacity of the largest UAE power plant.

cstanton@thenational.ae