x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ajman to try renewable energy

Seven companies are competing to set up a facility that will cut reliance on generators in the emirate and make disposal of waste more efficient.

Some residential buildings in Ajman use generators without the authorities' permission.
Some residential buildings in Ajman use generators without the authorities' permission.

AJMAN // A plant that will produce power by recycling waste has been approved as the emirate tries to solve its electricity crisis. Ajman's Executive Council had endorsed a proposal to build the plant in the new industrial area of Julfa, said Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the chairman of Ajman Municipality and Planning Directorate.

No specifics have been given as to the size of the plant, which would run on renewable energy. But it would address shortages and use some of the rubbish that has to be shipped to Sharjah, because Ajman does not have its own landfill.  "Our major target would be producing energy through the recycling of wastes using modern technology that meets international environment safety conditions," said Sheikh Rashid.

The emirate has been in talks with seven international companies to build the plant and the method used to extract energy will depend on which company is chosen. Each had visited Ajman to conduct independent studies and draw up proposals, said Sheikh Rashid. He believes that a company will be picked before the end of the year.  Power shortages have plagued the Northern Emirates since the Federal Electricity and Water Authority stopped supplying electricity to private and commercial buildings in 2007.

As a result, many completed buildings still do not have electricity. About 400 buildings regularly use generators in Ajman, according to Khalid Hosni, the head of Ajman's public health and environment department.  Many building operators have also set up generators without permission from authorities, prompting complaints from residents about noise in areas like Nuaimiya, Rashidiya and Sawan. Unapproved generators flaunted safety and environmental rules and risked repercussions, said Mr Hosni. 

"Those who installed generators without permission would be fined up to Dh15,000 (US$4,083) and have the generator confiscated until they met the standards and received authorisation," he said. "Using generators not conforming to environmental standards would mean a fine of Dh5,000, as would violation of safety requirements." Residents and business owners who have approved generators are finding them to be a major expense. 

Mustafa Shaban, an Egyptian who owns the Bahar seafood restaurant in Rashidiya, was among the first to be officially approved to run a generator two years ago. He has run his restaurant on its power ever since.   "I can't imagine how much I spend every month on maintenance," he said. "At least every week, a specialist has to check the generator and do servicing. Every time he comes, about Dh1,000 is spent on his services and buying new oil. The only solution for us is electricity, not inspections."

Last month, the executive council ruled that 12 oil and petrochemical plants without private waste management systems should be shut. "We do not have a landfill in Ajman where waste can be disposed at present," said Sheikh Rashid. "This is why the council have asked some big petrochemical companies that do not have good private waste management to stop operating." ykakande@thenational.ae