Progress UAE: Ambitious projects and an aggressive shift towards solar power and renewable energy are core principles of the UAE's future sustainability policy.
UAE has the energy to face the future
DUBAI //Abu Dhabi and Dubai are implementing ambitious projects to meet the growth in demand for energy. The emirates have some of the world's highest levels of electricity use per person.
The projects include the development of the Dh73 billion Barakah nuclear plant by 2017, and the aggressive shift towards solar power and renewable energy - core principles of the UAE's future sustainability policy - and are spearheaded by the Supreme Council for Energy.
According to a Power UAE report this month by Global Business Reports, a provider of industry-specific studies, the UAE's increasing population and industrial development has driven demand for electricity.
Experts calculate that electricity demand in the region would grow by between 8 and 12 per cent annually for the next decade thanks to population growth and industry.
"Abu Dhabi is an industrial centre and Dubai is a tourism, real estate and industry hub in the region but the demand is growing very quickly all over the country," said Dr Hassan Noura, a professor at UAE University's department of electrical engineering.
Dr Noura said that, despite the rapid rise in demand, Abu Dhabi and Dubai had coped well over the past five years and were even surpassing the demand for energy with supply.
Last week, a Dh15 billion raft of power and water projects were announced for the Northern Emirates - Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain.
Mohammed Saleh, director general of the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa), said multimillion-dirham projects were also being implemented in the eastern, western and central regions.
Dr Noura said: "Industry is growing in the Northern Emirates but at a much slower rate than in Abu Dhabi and Dubai."
Since 2009, the level of growth and development in the north has seen a rapid increase in energy consumption, which has added to the area's existing power-shortage problems.
Fewa stated in 2010 that chronic power shortages in the Northern Emirates would be brought under control within two years.
At the time, the authority told the Federal National Council that it would be able to meet the deadline because Abu Dhabi would continue feeding electricity into the federal grid and because Fewa was expanding the electricity network.
Mr Saleh said last week that the Government of Abu Dhabi had hugely supported power supply to the Northern Emirates by feeding 1,300 megawatts of electricity into the federal network.
He said the federal network in the Northern Emirates would be completely dependant on supply from Abu Dhabi by the end of the year.
The director general of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea), Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi, said economic diversification and demographics had been driving the development of the power and water sectors in Abu Dhabi and around the GCC. This underscores the fact that the region is not only one of the fastest growing, but also holds the most potential in global electricity markets, he added.
Last year, Abu Dhabi's Executive Council gave the green light for a large power plant to help meet the growing need for electricity in the capital and Northern Emirates.
The plant, due to be completed in 2015, will be built in Mirfa, in the Western Region, with the capacity to generate 1,500 megawatts of electricity and desalinate 53 million gallons of water a day.
"The project is targeted to satisfy the increasing demand for electricity, which escalates annually by 11 per cent, in addition to the commitment of Adwea to satisfy the requirements of the Northern Emirates," Mr Al Nuaimi said.
Adwea supplied 2,000 megawatts to the Northern Emirates alone in 2011, he added, a commitment that will almost double by 2015.