x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai residents use less electricity due to rising costs

The drop in overall energy consumption is due to a new pricing scheme which Dewa introduced in the beginning of 2011.

DUBAI // The emirate's per capita electricity consumption fell slightly last year because cost increases persuaded consumers to cut back on their usage, officials said yesterday.

The average resident consumed 16,022 kilowatt hours of electricity in 2010, but only 15,669 last year, said Saeed Al Tayer, the managing director and chief executive of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). While the figure was still high, it represented a step in the right direction, he said.

The announcement came at a press conference yesterday announcing the emirate's participation in Earth Hour, an annual global event aimed at raising awareness about global warming. The March 31 event will see non-essential lights turned off from 8.30pm until 9.30pm at homes and offices across the UAE.

At last year's event, Dubai saved a record 204,000 kilowatt hours (kW/h) of electricity and prevented 122,000 kilograms of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere, Mr Al Tayer said.

Producing electricity burns fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases. Reducing electricity usage, therefore, reduces carbon emissions and their impact on the environment.

Nejib Zaafrani, secretary general and chief executive of The Supreme Council of Energy, said the drop in overall energy consumption in Dubai is due to a new pricing scheme, which Dewa introduced in the beginning of 2011.

Customers were assessed a fuel surcharge, which varied depending on the cost at which Dewa bought fuel to produce electricity. All in all, the surcharge has increased the overall cost to consumers, inducing them to reduce consumption by using less air conditioning, turning off their lights and cutting back in other ways, he said.

"The projected growth [in overall energy demand] was six per cent but we saved around three per cent," said Mr Zaafrani.

This happened in spite of over 20,000 new Dewa customers, he said. Overall, Dubai aims to reduce its energy demand by 30 per cent by 2030.

The Supreme Council of Energy is looking at further ways to curb demand for power. One project will see an energy audit carried out in six Government buildings. The results will be used to make the buildings more energy efficient, as well as to formulate policies that will be applied on a large scale.

Another project will see a consultant map out opportunities for savings in the emirate, particularly in air-conditioning, which accounts for over 60 per cent of energy use, Mr Zaafrani said.

With iconic buildings such as Burj Khalifa taking part in Earth Hour, the celebration will also be a showcase for the UAE, said Ida Tillisch, director general of the Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature, which is collaborating with Government departments in the initiative.

"The rest of the world will certainly be watching as the world's tallest tower switches off its lights," she said. "Earth Hour started as a single-city initiative and has grown into the largest climate-change event in the world."

The event looks at much more than energy consumption. It also seeks to raise awareness about climate change, which happens as humanity burns fossil fuels to produce energy. Additionally, the event looks at the overall use of natural resources, which are being used up faster than the planet can replenish them.

"We are using our ecological credit card," Ms Tillisch said. "This dangerous trend can be reversed and must be reversed if we, human beings, are to survive."

vtodorova@thenational.ae