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UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining

Afif Saif Al Yafei

CEO, Abu Dhabi Transmission & Despatch Company (TRANSCO)

Bio

Afif Saif Al Yafei was appointed CEO of TRANSCO—the company responsible for planning, building, and operating the power and water transmission networks withiand distribution business line—in 2020. He is a leading energy industry executive with more than 20 years of experience in various sector leadership roles, and his expertise spans the fields of asset management, operations and maintenance, technical services, projects, and more.

"We are part of one of TAQA’s three business lines."
TRANSCO has become a vital player in the development of power and water transmission networks, supporting the UAE’s net zero and clean energy goals through innovative technologies and expertise.
Since 1999, TRANSCO has been responsible for the development of high voltage and bulk water transmission. How has the company evolved over the years?

TRANSCO is a subsidiary of TAQA Group, one of the largest listed integrated utilities companies in the EMEA region, and is responsible for planning, building, and operating the power and water transmission networks in Abu Dhabi and beyond. We connect the power and water generation sites to the distribution networks and demand centers. In line with the UAE’s net-zero 2050 strategic initiative and the commitment of Abu Dhabi to generate 60% of its electricity from clean sources by 2035, TRANSCO will provide the infrastructure to enable and facilitate the energy transition anchored by our core values, including safety, collaboration, excellence, and innovation. In terms of innovation, we have adopted the latest technologies and expertise in several areas, especially grid automation, reliability, and digitalization. We adopt innovative technologies through a repeatable, robust, and practical process. We participate in knowledge-sharing platforms that help in the capability building of our people and understand best practices with our peers and other utility providers. While power is a big focus of TRANSCO’s business, one cannot underestimate the side of the company that deals with water, as a big part of the energy transition story is the decoupling of power and water production, and in having highly efficient reverse osmosis units, which play a significant role in a region where the bulk of water is obtained via desalination.

How does TRANSCO support the emergence of renewables in the Emirate?

We are part of one of TAQA’s three business lines. Alongside the generation business and the oil and gas business, we are part of the transmission and distribution business, which has a vital role to play in connecting the value chain. The TAQA power generation portfolio is continually increasing its clean, green, and innovative energy solutions, with an appetite from end consumers for increased access to renewable power solutions. That is where we come into play. The transmission side of the business bridges that gap and encompasses the three critical elements of supply, demand, and storage. Our role is to deliver an evolving energy mix to our customers while upholding our standards of reliability, safety, and security and ensuring that the infrastructure is robust and flexible enough to meet the demands of a net zero-focused power portfolio. Sustainability is the more prominent part of our business, and we are at the heart of realizing its goals for the sector within the UAE. One such example has been Project Lightning, a USD3.6-billion renewable energy project to significantly decarbonize ADNOC’s offshore production operations and accelerate the UAE’s efforts to achieve its 2050 net-zero ambitions.

How resilient is the grid and how is TRANSCO integrating large-scale projects in the country?

The core component of any transmission network is a resilient grid; that is the first objective that needs to be accomplished and at the heart of this is transmission infrastructure. Over the past few decades, we have been busy facilitating a green energy mix, as transmission holds the key to the energy transition. Today, we have a grid illustrating resiliency in real-time: we have three units at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the first peaceful energy program in the region, connected to the grid and supplying power to customers, and we also have the large-scale single sides of the Noor Abu Dhabi Solar Power Plant and Al Dhafra PV2, which are either commissioned or in advanced stages of commissioning. TRANSCO is at the heart of ensuring the delivery of these and other major milestones announced by the Department of Energy and the Abu Dhabi government regarding the contribution of renewable energy to every megawatt and kilowatt consumed in Abu Dhabi. We have comprehensive experience in integrating flagship large-scale renewable projects into the grid, which has given us the ability to meet these associated challenges.

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