x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Dumping generators has green benefits too

Electricity shortages are considered the biggest hurdle to RAK's economic development, and the Rotana is one of several hotels waiting to be connected.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The Cove Rotana Resort markets itself as an idyllic escape close to nature, but since it has no electricity it must rely on as many as five generators in the summer.

That is about to change.

"The generators were on from day one," said Harihar Rao, the hotel's director of engineering. "Definitely, we have been spending a lot, and a lot of pollution is being emitted. I'd be really interested if some alternative comes up."

It costs the hotel about 77 fils per kilowatt to operate the generators, more than twice the 33 fils per kilowatt it would pay for electricity from a commercial grid.

The entire property, which is comprised of 204 rooms and 82 villas, relies on diesel generators. Three generators power the resort in winter, and five are needed in summer to produce the 28,000 kilowatts per day required in the hot season.

For Mr Rao, this week's announcement means as much for the environment as it does for economics.

Using guidelines from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he estimated that 2.64 kilograms of carbon dioxide is produced for every litre of diesel consumed.

Electricity shortages are considered the biggest hurdle to RAK's economic development, and the Rotana is one of several hotels waiting to be connected.

Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, the Ruler of RAK, has focused on foreign investment in industry, trade and commerce, as well as tourism and property, since he came to power as Crown Prince in 2003.

Although his agenda improved RAK's economy and nearly doubled the emirate's GDP in the first five years of his rule as Crown Prince, each sector suffered heavily during the energy crises, when many companies and residences suffered rolling power outages.

Hamad al Shamsi, the deputy general director of the RAK department of economic planning, said the federal energy investment is essential.

"Too many investors left RAK because of the electricity. They wanted to stay here, but because of the electricity - most of them used generators - they spent a lot of money and so they changed their location. That was a loss for the whole UAE," Mr al Shamsi said.

The 45-storey Julfar Towers, which dominate the RAK skyline, are among dozens of buildings in the city centre that rely on generators. The freehold office and residential towers are scheduled for handover in April.

"So many units have been waiting, and I'm sure this will send a message of confidence that investment is good in the UAE," said Mohammed al Qadi, the chief executive of RAK Properties, the developer of Julfar Towers. "All of us are really thankful, we really appreciate what they do for us."

 

azacharias@thenational.ae