19 November 2004 – The UAE’s electricity production increased by eight per cent from 40.1 TWh in 2000 to 43.1 TWh in 2001 and 45.1 TWh in 2002, according to latest figures available from the Ministry of Planning.
Although electricity generation is growing consistently year on year, demands is also increasing and distribution remains a challenge when electricity has to be carried to each remote corner of the country.
The source of electricity production in the UAE is mainly gas. There are no hydro or nuclear plants in the region. Almost 97 per cent of the production uses gas, and the remaining 3 per cent is produced by generation sets run by diesel of steam turbines.
But the only problem in using gas is transportation and diesel is expensive for producing electricity. Moreover, power plants in Northern Emirates are dependent of diesel as lack of easy availability of gas in the region. As this is not feasible in the long run, these power stations are trying to be connected to a common grid for transmission of electricity.
According to a study, linking all power-generating plants in the UAE under a single grid can solve the distribution problem. The study reveals that such a grid can save up to 10 per cent on capacity and improve system stability, machine loading and efficiency.
Already, the east coast areas of Dibba, Khor Fakkan and Fujairah are linked as well as the west coast areas of Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman are also linked with each other.
In the UAE, Abu Dhabi dominates the production of electricity with not only the largest capacity but also the highest growth in the industry. Abu Dhabi has been responsible for most of the expansion and now accounts almost for half of the installed capacity. The demand for power continues to increase at a rate of 8 to 10 per cent per annum and privatisation of production is the main aim in Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority’s (ADWEA) strategy to meet these rapidly growing needs.
In the near future, privatisation will dominate the production of electricity but the distribution and the government will control supply chain.
According to sources, the rise in industrial demand for power is foreseen from various residential and industrial projects in the UAE and more private companies are coming up with power plants to fulfil this demand which includes, Union Water and Electricity Company (UWEC), ETA Electric company LLC and others. Last year, ADWEA executed the privatisation of the Umm Al Nar Power company (UANPC) located some 10km northeast of Abu Dhabi.
According to a report, in 2003, two new power companies were formed in Abu Dhabi, United Arabian Power Company (UAPC), a wholly owned ADWEA subsidiary with paid up capital of Dh1.28 billion and the Arabian Power Company (APC) with a capital of Dh816 million. ADWEA through UAPC controls 60 per cent of APC. ITM Investment Company Ltd, a joint venture between International Power plc, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Mistui & Company owns the remaining 40 per cent.
Dubai too has raised its share of capacity but is constrained by lack of gas availability. Till last year, Dubai had an installed capacity of 4710 MW of electricity and this summer, DEWA’s ‘K’ station power project and desalination plant, located in Jebel Ali, were recently commissioned and a consortium led by Mitsubishi and Toshiba was awarded the Dh3 billion contract, along with ETA-Ascon and Alstom to develop DEWA’s ‘F’ power and desalination plant, also in Jebel Ali, to be commissioned in 2005.
The construction will include the building of a power generation station using gas turbines. The desalination plant will be built in the second stage, a 400 kV transformer station in the third, and the final phase will see the setting up of a 400 kV overhead transmission and connection lines to connect the L station to the Oubal electricity grid. The ‘L’ project will add 860 MW of power and 70 MIGD of desalination capacity.
Sharjah government, this year had Dh11.8 million from Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA)’s budget to spend for electricity projects in Fujairah, Khor Fakkan and Kalba.
Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) has ensured that the growth in demand for electricity and water in the emirate is met by many projects. Wasit Station project’s fourth phase with the installation of two 100 MW gas turbines was completed last year.
The Federal Electricity and Water Authority carried out 47 projects in Umm Al Qaiwain in 2002, 21 of which are engaged in upgrading the electricity network. Umm Al Qaiwain emirate’s maximum power requirement recorded a 7 per cent increase from 77 MW in 2001 to 84 MW in 2002. Still the demand is more and increases during summer and there are future plans to set up more power plants in the Northern Emirates.