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Awaidha Murshed Al Marar

UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining

Resolving the ‘energy trilemma’

Chairman, Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE)


Prior to his appointment at DoE, Awaidha Murshed Al Marar was chairman of the department of municipal affairs and transport, Abu Dhabi, with previous positions also including vice president of Abu Dhabi General Services Company and projects manager at ADNOC. He is also a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and serves as a board member of the Abu Dhabi Supreme Petroleum Council, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Nawah Energy Company, and Barakah One. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Arizona and an MBA from the UAE University’s College of Business and Economics.

DoE seeks to ensure Abu Dhabi is able to balance the competing interests in terms of ensuring the security of energy and water supply, the sustainability of the energy sector, and the costs to end consumers.

The creation of DoE marked the decentralization of regulatory and service provision aspects of energy in the Emirate. Can you tell us about the vision behind this reform?
The overall objective of the government of Abu Dhabi is to have a sustainable utilities and sanitation sector that ensures optimal usage of natural resources. The vision also issued Law No. 11 of 2018, which established DoE to focus on developing a strategy for the energy sector, issue policies, and regulate companies active in the energy space. As the energy and water sector’s transition develops, a clear separation between the asset owner on the one hand and the policymaker and regulator on the other will ensure Abu Dhabi is able to balance the competing interests of the ‘energy trilemma’—the security of energy and water supply, sustainability of the energy sector, and ensuring the lowest costs to end-consumers. Additionally, Abu Dhabi is introducing non-fossil fuel generation, decoupling desalination, and adopting new technologies. Alongside its regulatory responsibilities, DoE is creating new water and energy strategies and policies to deliver these outcomes.

What role does DoE envision for PPPs in driving the development of the energy sector?
The local energy market in Abu Dhabi is becoming increasingly complex as a result of factors like nuclear energy, renewables, and the decoupling of water co-generation entering the energy mix. Furthermore, private investors lay a great deal of emphasis on certainty, and DoE can play a pivotal role in creating a conducive environment for their investment. As the policymaker and regulator for the energy sector in the Emirate, DoE is responsible for fostering creativity and reducing risk. This is especially relevant in the area of clean and renewable energy, where there is little experience at the Emirate-level at the moment.

What challenges will Abu Dhabi face in increasing the solar share in its energy mix?
In most developed markets like Abu Dhabi’s, the first wave of renewable capacity can be integrated into the wider system without difficulty, and this is what we have been seeing with the Sweihan PV independent power project. As the scale of PV rapidly increases; however, we will start to face new and interesting challenges. Solar PV, however, is only one part of a broader energy transition for Abu Dhabi. We have to position our targets and policies so as to remain agile, able to take advantage of innovations as they become viable, without locking ourselves into particular technologies in a way that we might come to regret in the future. We also anticipate new opportunities to manage demand. As smart devices and electric vehicles become mainstream, they could provide some of the flexibility services that we will need. Water will also become a form of virtual energy storage and demand-side management, as we shift production of desalinated water from new reverse-osmosis plants towards the middle of the day, when energy from PV is most abundant. So perhaps the challenge is not whether we can make the system flexible enough to accept much more PV, but rather finding a way to make all the parts work together efficiently.

What does the DoE’s new integrated energy model bring to Abu Dhabi’s energy sector?
DoE has developed a holistic energy model that captures the full, end-to-end energy value chain within Abu Dhabi against the wider context of the UAE. The ambition of this project is to work with our multiple government stakeholders to develop and maintain the energy model collectively and systematically. Upon completion, the model will be accessible to all government departments. DoE will then work across the government to test envisaged scenarios and support other departments’ work and energy-related policy development. Having the whole energy ecosystem on one platform will provide valuable insight into Abu Dhabi’s overall demand and supply balance, helping to identify the interplay and inevitable trade-offs to be considered between different government perspectives, outlook scenarios, and subsequent policy choices.



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