Abu Dhabi to double generation capacity by 2020

RSB head sees capacity of 20-25GW within 10 years.

Renewables, like nuclear, will be an integral part of Abu Dhabi's future energy supply.
Renewables, like nuclear, will be an integral part of Abu Dhabi's future energy supply.

Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest emirate, could more than double its generation capacity within a decade, said the head of the Regulation & Supervision Bureau (RSB).

“[In ten years time] we see 20-25GW of capacity,” said Nick Carter, director general at the RSB at the Smart Grids Middle East conference this week.

Abu Dhabi’s current installed capacity stands at about 10,00MW according to figures published by MEED. This can easily absorb peak demand, which presently stands at around 7,602MW, and cater for exports to the UAEs other emirates, which in 2009 amounted to 1,356MW.

Demand is rising fast, however. According to an estimate by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company (Adwec), peak power demand will roughly double to 15,069MW by 2015.

Alternative energies will constitute a sizeable part of future supply, said Carter.

“6 GW of [generation capacity] will be nuclear, 1-2GW of which will be renewable energy. Of those 1-2GW, maybe 750MW will be distributed energy,” he said.

Carter sees energy storage as crucial for the deployment of renewable energy such as solar power, and he anticipates about 50MW of storage in the distribution system.

“We do see storage as a major issue, like a sister entity in supporting renewables. I think storage over the next ten years is one of the real challenges.”

Feed-in tariffs, a concept by which the government pays providers of renewables tariffs sufficient to make generation viable, are the other ingredient to grow the share of renewables in the power mix, according to Carter.

“If we can store out storage with intermittent renewable energy, and with that the right kind of tariffs, then I think you are on to a platform.”
Abu Dhabi is working on introducing such feed-in tariffs, Cater announced at the press conference for the launch of Masdar’s Shams I CSP solar plant in June.


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