Power in diversity

Abu Dhabi is developing more and more diverse sources of energy.

Abu Dhabi is developing more and more diverse sources of energy.
Abu Dhabi is developing more and more diverse sources of energy.

Rapidly increasing demand for electricity throughout the UAE is forcing Abu Dhabi’s hand in developing more and more diverse sources of energy.

With the hot and humid summer months approaching fast, energy consumption will be of foremost concern to utility providers in the United Arab Emirates. Peak power demand, a consequence of increased use of air conditioning, has in the past left some of the emirates struggling to cope. Sharjah is a notable example, regularly experiencing power outages during the summer.

Things are not going to get any easier for the Sharjah Electricty and Power Authority (SEWA) and utilities providers. Demand for power has been rising steadily over the years, as the UAE is taking giant strides towards industrialisation, with the petrochemical industry in particular a key growth factor.

Energy demand levels might have grown more slowly in some of the emirates as a consequence of the recession. But Abu Dhabi, insulated from the global crisis by its enormous oil wealth, saw demand growing by a record 11 percent in 2009 on a year on year basis.

The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company (ADWEC) projects that peak demand will have doubled to around 15,000 MW in 2015, easily surpassing the current generation capacity of 10,000 MW.

New capacity
In light of this steep trajectory, it is not surprising that the Abu Dhabi is investing heavily in new capacity, and has three large scale power and water projects coming in planning. In addition, the emirate has awarded at US$20.4 bn contract for four nuclear reactors to a consortium led by Kepco in 2009. The first of reactor will be operational in 2017, and all four will be producing electricity by 2020.

Abu Dhabi is also investing heavily into developing renewable energy sources, and has committed to generating seven percent of its power using renewable sources by 2020.

Hydrogen Power Abu Dhabi, a joint venture between Masdar and BP, hopes to tender the main EPC contract for a US$2.2bn plant. With a capacity of 400MW, the plant will be the largest hydrogen plant worldwide.

Apart from building capacity to satisfy is own ever increasing needs, Abu Dhabi’s also provides power to its northern neighbours. ADWEC supplies SEWA and the Federal Electricity and Water Company (FEWA), which delivers power to the northern Emirates. These imports will increase over time, reaching 2,500 MW by 2015.

The power delivered to FEWA by ADWEC comes mainly from the Fujairah I plant. Fujairah II, a 2,000 MW plant, is currently commissioning. Concerns over the supply of gas have been allayed with the completion of the Taweelah-Fujairah pipeline.

Northern woes
Sharjah, one of the recipients of energy from Abu Dhabi, has a capacity of around 2,200 MW, sufficient to meet even peak demand. But SEWA is hampered by a lack of gas feedstock, which in 2009 resulted in load shedding during the peak demand period.

Plans for the Hamriya independent power plant (IPP) had to be shelved as Sharjah failed to secure a deal for gas supplies from Iran, so that the emirate will likely remain dependent on Abu Dhabi’s helping hand.

Since ADWEC started to provide electricity to FEWA in 2008, the later has stopped supplying industrial users and large scale residential complexes in the northern emirates. This has left the emirates exposed, as they have not had time to develop their own generation capacity.

Ras-al-Khaima and Ajman both had to shelve plans to built IWPPs due to the financial crisis, leading to power shortages in those emirates.

Abu Dhabi nuclear power generation by 2020: 5,600MW
source Adwec

UAE peak power consumption
2008: 14,385MW
2009: 15,426MW.
Source: Adwec

Abu Dhabi peak power demand projections
2010: 7,602 MW
2015: 15,069 MW
source Adwec

Abu Dhabi peak power exports to other UAE members
2008: 1040 MW
2009: 1424 MW
source Adwec

Abu Dhabi peak power consumption
2008: 5,616MW
2009: 6,255MW
source Adwec

Abu Dhabi’s new IWPPs
Shuweihat 2 - Financing for the 1,500MW IWPP was completed in October 2009.
Shuweihat 3 - A 1,600MW independent power project (IPP), planned for the same site as Shuweihat 2.
Taweelah C – Currently in the study phase, the IWPP is planned to augment the Taweelah A1, Taweelah A2, and Taweelah B plants. It is expected to have a nameplate capacity of 2,400-2,600MW.


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