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INTERVIEW: Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA

Saeed Al Tayer wants to make Dubai a smart and sustainable city.

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Al Tayer says Dubai is moving towards a smart grid.
Al Tayer says Dubai is moving towards a smart grid.

H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, talks exclusively to Utilities Middle East.

Last year was remarkably successful and busy for DEWA and with plenty of new projects in the pipeline, 2014 appears to be busier. According to estimates, Dubai's Expo 2020 win will result in a growth in electricity demand by 4-6 per cent per annum. This means that by 2020, according to research from energy consultancy Access, Dubai's power consumption will reach 9.6GW, a 50 per cent jump from 2012. How well is DEWA prepared to meet the demand?

DEWA has the critical infrastructure in place to deliver on Dubai’s future needs and is ready for additional growth as well. This has been based on meticulous planning and forward thinking to ensure that we deliver electricity and water to the people, businesses and industries of Dubai at the very highest levels of effi ciency, availability and reliability. This is demonstrated through DEWA’s international benchmarking of its performance in 2013, with only 5.62 Customer Minutes Lost against 15 minutes recorded worldwide, network line losses of 3.33 per cent against 6-7 per cent in the US and the EU and 10.04 per cent water losses in comparison to 15 per cent in North America.

This planning has also been brought into reality the variety of new energy sources DEWA is developing as part of our strategy to diversify our energy mix, which is aligned to the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 – the integrated strategy developed by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy to introduce new energy sources to Dubai so that by 2030, 71 per cent of Dubai’s total power output will come from natural gas, while 12 per cent will be derived from clean coal, 12 per cent from nuclear energy and 5 per cent from renewable energy.

DEWA is managing the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Seih Al Dahal, which is planned to produce 1,000MW by 2030, and whose fi rst phase, a 13MW photovoltaic plant, is now operational with the second phase, a 100MW photovoltaic plant, underway based on the Independent Power Producer model. DEWA has already sent a request for tenders for the clean coal facility, which will be sited at Hassyan, so that the energy needs of the Emirate, and not just Expo 2020, will be met. The clean coal plant’s total production capacity will reach 1,200MW, which will be carried out in two 600MW phases, with the first phase to be completed by 2020, and the second by 2021.

Another part of our efforts to prepare for the future includes the expansion to our latest gasturbine plant, M-Station. The expansion includes new substations with a capacity of 400MW, increasing the installed capacity of the station to 2,460MW, upon completion of the expansion in 2018. M-Station has cutting-edge and eco-friendly technologies for generating power, which will increase the fuel efficiency to 90 per cent, minimise harmful emissions, and reduce nitrogen emissions to 25 parts per million.

DEWA considers its strategic partners and suppliers as key stakeholders in our strategy to deliver the best possible services to the Emirate of Dubai. We look to world-class organisations from around the world to present and review the most advanced solutions in electricity, water, environment and other technologies that drive our excellence-centric approach to service delivery.

This is the reason why DEWA took the innovative step of setting up the Water, Energy, and Environment Technology Exhibition (WETEX 2014) in and today we are holding WETEX 2014 with over 1,500 companies from at least 32 different countries from around the world here in Dubai on 14-16 April. This means that we can look to the best technologies and solutions from around the world, provided by world-class companies – these are the qualities we are looking for. So, I invite all companies who are looking to provide such innovative state-of-the-art technologies and services that will help to achieve the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for a brighter, sustainable future for the UAE.

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Given that the high per capita energy consumption is the GCC is worrisome, what message would you like to give tothe consumers in Dubai?

DEWA has a vision to become a sustainable worldclass utility and sustainability is not just a core strategic objective but also at the very heart of our values.

We have conducted a range of awareness campaigns to encourage everyone to be more conscious and aware of how much electricity and water they use so that everyone can make greater efforts to rationalise their use. We have also provided the platform; facilitating this through our conservation awards and best consumer awards, working closely with the education sector and residential sectors to create a positive change in the behaviour by encouraging the rationalised use of electricity and water.

Focusing on Dubai, we have a commitment to encourage a 30 per cent reduction in demand by 2030, which is a key objective of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 – the integrated strategy developed by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy to unite and develop the energy sector in Dubai to secure a brighter, more sustainable future for the Emirate.
It is also important that everyone knows that implementing energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption is even easier with the introduction of Dubai’s Super ESCO, or super energy services company, Etihad Energy Services.

Etihad Energy Services will be working with energy service companies, who will be working with existing property owners and managers, to make the process of installing and upgrading energy-efficient technologies both easier and more cost-effective. By taking on the work requirements and supporting the real estate industry in Dubai, ESCOs will make a real difference to tenants, businesses, property owners and facilities management companies across the Emirate.

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Would you like to talk about DEWA's plan to install over 1,200,000 smart meters in Dubai? Do you foresee challenges in implementing the project?

I am glad that you asked this question because this is a key strategy for DEWA. As I mentioned before, demand reduction is a key aspect of our strategic forward-planning and encouraging greater rationalisation in the use of electricity and water means that our customers can see information such as their consumption, trends, data, and their profiles.

The onset of the smart grid brings considerable innovation, functionality, efficiency and simplicity for both our customers and DEWA. For our customers, the smart meter means connection to a mobile data network that provides consumption reports and billing accounts.

For DEWA, it means that we can more efficiently monitor and maintain the efficiency and reliability of our networks to best serve Dubai. We have set ourselves an ambitious target for this plan and I am sure that we shall achieve our goal, especially as it supports the Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to ensure a brighter, sustainable future for the Emirate. The challenge will be to raise the awareness of our customers and continue our efforts to promote the rational and sustainable use of our resources.

What are your expectations from the smart meter project? To what extent will the project help in the sustainable development of Dubai?

The smart meter project is part of DEWA’s wider strategy to promote and incorporate a culture of sustainability across Dubai, in line with our vision to become a sustainable world-class utility. We work continuously to adopt best technological solutions that contribute to enhancing operational efficiency, enhance the quality of services we offer to our customers, guaranteeing the highest environmental standards and providing the means for comfortable and happy lifestyles.

For this project, we have formed a qualified technical team to implement the Smart Grid and the Smart Meters project over three phases, at a total cost of US $1.9bn (AED 7 billion). The first step in building a Smart City begins with smart networks for water, energy, and telecommunications, which form the backbone of future cities. The combination of smart infrastructure, renewable energy solutions, environmental initiatives and qualified staff will contribute to building a smart future for our city. We are moving forward at a solid pace. The new smart meters will automatically send usage readings over the latest communications systems, such as fibre optic networks, which will maintain all consumption records and consumer operations.

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Congratulations on the successful launch of the first project for the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. Could you give us the latest update on the solar park?

As you are no doubt aware, on World Energy Day on 22 October 2013, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, officially inaugurated the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park with the launch of the first project: a 13MW photovoltaic plant.

During the launch, His Highness unveiled a second phase to build a 100MW photovoltaic plant. This second project is different in that, while the first phase was financed and overseen by the member companies of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, the second phase will be built based on the independent power producer model. Recently, we appointed a consultant to support and advise on the latest developments and technologies in solar power to ensure that the solar park generates 1,000MW by 2030.

You have recently invited Australian companies to take part in WETEX 2014. What kind of participation are you expecting from other local and international companies this year? What will be the highlight of the event?

Firstly, let me tell you about the history of WETEX, as WETEX 2014 is the 16th exhibition organised by DEWA. Fifteen years ago, we launched WETEX in 1999 with participants from just two countries and now we have confirmed participation from 1,500 exhibitors from 40 countries. When we started, we had just three sponsors. This year, WETEX 2014 will have nine strategic sponsors, eleven platinum sponsors and 22 gold sponsors have already confirmed their support.

We have 42 sponsors in total so far and this is going to increase further. This year, DEWA is inviting businesses and solutions providers from around the world to come to WETEX 2014. The exhibition addresses the important issues surrounding rapid developments and the latest technologies in the electricity, energy, water, and environment sectors. It also presents the best solutions and practices to address environmental challenges.

WETEX 2014 will host eminent personalities and delegations from across the Middle East and around the world, including ministers, heads of government organisations, international diplomatic delegations, captains of industry, chief executives, managing directors, general managers and other executives who are responsible for the purchasing and strategy for their organisations, as well as senior figures from the public and private sectors. WETEX will also feature a range of green initiatives, which DEWA and other organisations are committed to, at SmarTech Shopper.

In support of the UAE strategy for green development, which focuses on the promotion and development of green technologies, SmarTech Shopper offers a great opportunity to demonstrate Dubai’s commitment to reducing waste and protecting our environment from pollution. The highlight is that DEWA is organising Green Week, which will take place during WETEX and the World Green Economy Summit, and will unify the themes of sustainability, conservation and all the initiatives that we have undertaken to date to drive these concepts within Dubai. 

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