Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Abu Dhabi's new energy plan offers households financial incentives to upgrade AC units

Families investing in efficient air conditioning would qualify for cheaper bills

Mohamed Al Zaabi, Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs at the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, and Dr Hilal Al Kaabi, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council, launch the new plan during the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Pawan Singh / The National
Mohamed Al Zaabi, Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs at the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, and Dr Hilal Al Kaabi, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council, launch the new plan during the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Pawan Singh / The National

Abu Dhabi residents will be offered discounts on their bills if they upgrade to more efficient air conditioners in a new drive to clamp down on spiralling energy and water consumption.

A new nine-point strategy, launched by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Energy, will also offer incentives to businesses, roll out a labelling system so people can easily avoid inefficient products and push out high-profile publicity campaigns to help the capital become greener.

The new plan was drawn up following concern at rising levels of water and energy use in Abu Dhabi. As a result of a rising population and economic growth, energy consumption is currently predicted to increase by 1.4 per cent a year until 2035.

On Tuesday, the emirate’s government announced new targets that aim for a 22 per cent cut in energy consumption and a 32 per cent decrease in water consumption by 2030, compared to a 2013 baseline.

One of the ideas officials had to meet the goal is a 'rebate' programme, which will be available “to residential consumers as an incentive to purchase high-efficient A/C units with shortened payback periods,” the strategy stated.

“The one most important part of your energy bill is your cooling,” said Ramiz Alaileh, a sustainability director at the Department of Energy, explaining the department's focus on targeting old-fashioned air conditioners. “We believe that an educated customer is an informed customer, and an informed customer is a smart customer. This starts with us, as individuals, to deliver the efficiency needs for Abu Dhabi.

“The strategy is very unique. It shows a collaborative effort between a number of governmental stakeholders, working together to shape the future of water and energy efficiency.”

In addition to the rebate plan, businesses and industrial consumers will be offered the chance to join a scheme whereby they agree to reduce energy consumption at times of peak demand in return for a payment.

Also included in the strategy, launched at the World Energy Congress, is a previously announced plan to fit LED light bulbs to streetlights, a retrofitting scheme for government buildings to make them more energy efficient and tighter building regulations for new projects.

Under the product labelling scheme, information is printed on packaging for electric appliances and equipment, showing their minimum energy performance standards. It is hoped this will help increasingly environmentally-conscious consumers make greener choices.

The other measures centre around increased use of district cooling systems, both through retrofits and installing them in new developments, and rolling out new methods of storing energy at quiet times, to ensure it is not wasted.

According to Mr Alaileh, the measures will save 19,000GW hours of electricity and 480 million cubic metres of water total by 2030, while also saving businesses and millions of dirhams collectively in reduced bills.

While policies and campaigns have previously been launched to reduce energy and water use, officials admit that these have been hampered by a lack of coordination between departments.

It is hoped that with the Department of Energy overseeing the new strategy, it will lead to a more coherent approach across government.

“The strategy contributes to national efforts for energy security by reducing dependency on external supply and mitigating price volatility risk,” Mohamed Al Falasi, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, said.

“It promotes environmental sustainability by introducing advanced energy-saving technologies and methods, and enhances energy efficiency capabilities through efficient demand side management programme management tools and by supporting programme owners to achieve strategy goals.”

Updated: September 11, 2019 03:36 PM

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