Energy & Mining

Gridlock No Longer

Dubai’s Smart Grid initiative is a three-pronged initiative from the Dubai Electrcity and Water Authority (DEWA). The plan is for these three initiatvies to ensure seamless, accessible, and connected water […]

Dubai’s Smart Grid initiative is a three-pronged initiative from the Dubai Electrcity and Water Authority (DEWA). The plan is for these three initiatvies to ensure seamless, accessible, and connected water and electricity services that meet living requirements, whilst monitoring usage. The intiative has numerous aspects, such as the implementation of meters that will monitor personal consumption and developing charging stations for hybrid and electric cars.

This Smart Grid strategy aims to rationalize energy usage across the domestic and commercial and transport sectors and falls under the Dubai Smart Initiative and the Dubai Green Energy Strategy for 2050. The green energy strategy aims to see the Emirate produce 75% of its energy from clean sources in the next 43 years. This has led to an Emirate-wide initiative spanning the public and private that looks wholesale at IT solutions that can drive sustainable practice. This ambition is to have a smart-led diversification of the energy make-up of Dubai that cement’s the Emirate’s ambition of being the smartest city in the world.

One aspect of this, and a new concept to the region, is for individuals and businesses to source their consumption through installed solar panels on the roof of their own premises, and for any excess energy generated to be funneled into the grid and sold to DEWA. This policy coincides with the Demand Side Management Strategy, which is geared towards a reduction in demand for both water and energy by 30% by 2021. Photovoltaic (PV) cell installation has been ongoing under the Shams initiative and although current numbers are in double-digits rather than triple, and the focus has been around government buildings and offices, with residential areas to be targeted, although a specific date has not be given as a deadline for this.
The most active part of this initiative so far has been DEWA’s movements to implement over 1 million smart meters by 2020, of which 200,000 were installed by January 2016. The meters will provide users with information on their household consumption patterns, and is expected to help residents and industrial and commercial management teams look at more sustainable practices. They will also be a key aspect when needing to divert energy generated from installed solar panels back to the grid.

One barrier to widespread panel usage in the UAE has been an issue of maintenance. With high levels of sand and dust being kicked up by the wind and settling on the panels, the levels of solar-ray penetration are diminished. A suitable solution has been found for Abu Dhabi’s Shams project, where automated sweepers brush the panels regularly.

In terms of charging stations for cars the majority of automotive manufacturers concur that it is the lack of infrastructure that is holding back the electric car industry. Porsche has just produced a car with a range of 500km achievable with just a 20-minute charge time. Its E-Mission car will be available by 2020 and it aims to sell 20,000 per annum through that time. At the moment, it is not an attractive purchase for potential car owners who cannot rely on the infrastructure to enable the usage of their car. There is some marks of progress, with DEWA announcing in December 2016 that 100 electric charging stations had been installed in the city.
Outside of the Smart Grid, 300 hybrid taxis (6% of current fleet) are already operational and should account for 50% of the taxis in operation by 2021. The targets are for a 10% share of all new purchased vehicles to be hybrid and electric vehicles from 2016-2020, and that by the same end date Dubai will be 2% eco-friendly across all vehicles, rising to 10% by 2030, with these cars emitting 33% fewer emissions.

Ceteris paribus, Dubai is embracing a smart-led strategy that will enable it to reach its 75% clean energy target by 2050.