Dubai reaps benefits of cutting energy use
DUBAI // Dubai Municipality will continue to invest in solar power and energy-efficient systems after saving hundreds of thousands of dirhams a year in energy costs.
Solar street lights, hot-water systems and simple changes in using air conditioning at the municipality's buildings have helped it to slash power bills, said Juma Al Fuqaei, director of the general maintenance department.
Among the more efficient technologies is the 20,000-litre solar-powered hot-water system being used at the Dubai Abattoir in Al Qusais for nearly a year.
"We used to rely on diesel to heat up the water. Right now we are using solar power," said Mr Al Fuqaei.
He said the system was expected to bring savings of Dh300,000 this year, and the municipality expected to recover its investment in two and a half years.
A 500-litre solar hot-water system at Al Quoz cemetery has also been performing well, Mr Al Fuqaei said.
The municipality has installed a similar system in the Al Fahidi Market, which is to open soon, and is considering it for its labour accommodation, which houses about 8,000 people.
Although expensive, photovoltaic (PV) solar panels were recently installed on the roof of a public toilet near Al Mamzar Park, with another 10 due to be fitted this year.
As the toilets' power needs are small the effects of the energy saved are limited, but Mr Al Fuqaei said it would help to make the technology more visible for citizens.
"Our return on investment might take eight years but this project has other indirect benefits," he said.
Solar power has also been used for street lighting at parks, beaches and open-air markets over the past five years.
One thousand street lights in Al Mamzar and Al Mushrif parks are being fitted to run off solar panels. The project, which cost Dh2.2 million, should be finished in a month.
The maintenance department is also involved in a Dh6 million project to upgrade the air-conditioning chiller units to more efficient models in municipality buildings that are more than 20 years old.
Air-conditioning uses up to 70 per cent of a building's energy needs, especially in summer.
The municipality has also linked up with the sustainable technology company Pacific Controls to remotely monitor electrical equipment in its Al Twar service centre.
By being able to adjust how the equipment operates, depending on temperature, occupancy and time of the day, the project has cut energy use by 28 per cent, or Dh100,000 a year.
The system is being extended to Naif Souq, the service centre in Al Manara and the Dubai Central Laboratory.
These efforts fall under a 2011 mandate to reduce the municipality's total energy and water bill by 20 per cent. A reduction of 15 per cent was achieved last year, said Mr Al Fuqaei.
While the goal is to save energy and reduce the carbon footprint, the initiative also makes financial sense, he said.
"We study all projects carefully and we do not implement a project unless it is saving money and has a good return on investment," Mr Al Fuqaei said.
Updated: July 10, 2013 04:00 AM