Capital's energy needs to triple

  • 20 November 2007

The peak demand for energy in Abu Dhabi is expected to more than triple to 14,000 megawatts in 2020 compared to 4,000MW last year, according to data from the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority.

"The issue of how to satisfy future global energy demand is becoming a concern of growing importance for both governments and populations," said Dr. Jamal Al-Suwaidi, Director-General of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.

"Future global constraints will arise from the apparent inability of current, traditional energy sources to satisfy demand-a far more fundamental problem that we must be wary of," he told a three-day international conference on energy in the capital yesterday.

Solutions for increasing electricity generation capacity are forthcoming with more oil and gas-fired power stations planned and a GCC-wide proposal to explore nuclear energy already in place, he said.

Local, regional and international experts in energy have gathered in Abu Dhabi to discuss the future energy demand in the region at the 13th annual Energy Conference called 'Future Arabian Gulf Energy Sources - Hydrocarbon, Nuclear or Renewable?'

Dr. Jamal Al-Suwaidi said accelerating industrialisation, economic development and population growth in the region requires atomic power to meet future challenges.

In his statement read by Aida Abdullah Al-Azdi, Deputy Director-General for Community Services at the Centre, he said per capita industrial, commercial and domestic energy consumption in the GCC states is among the highest in the world.

"In the UAE, for example, it is around 11 times higher than the average world consumption," Dr. Al-Suwaidi said.

Dr. H Holger Rogner, Head of Planning and Economic Studies at the International Atomic Energy Agency's Department of Nuclear Energy, said nuclear power represents 16 per cent of global energy supplies, one sixth of total energy production.

"Today investors, the nuclear industry and governments are reconsidering nuclear power capabilities.

Today, nuclear power is an attractive option when compared to other energy sources.

Indeed, the momentum in nuclear power has moved from North America and Europe to Asia." Referring to GCC countries' decision to go for atomic power, the IAEA official said though it is not an interesting option for the region in an economic perspective, it has an advantage in terms of environmental protection.

"It cannot currently compete with the supply of oil and natural gas available in the region. In the long run, however, the nuclear option has the potential to become a highly competitive one," Rogner said.

Professor Ali Sayigh, Chairman of the UK-based World Renewable Energy Congress, opposed the region going for nuclear power in strong words.

"Don't go by the fancy of nuclear power. We must not think of nuclear energy as an option," he advised the regional countries. "As long as we have a conflict in the region, it will further aggravate it and create more conflicts. This is the number one reason for opposing nuclear power in the region.

"Second, it is very expensive. It takes 10 to 15 years to acquire nuclear power. It requires lot of finance. It requires a lot of safety, it requires disposing of nuclear waste, which is again expensive," he said.

The priority for this region, he added, must be to explore the full potential of solar energy and generate energy from the plentiful resources in the natural environment.

"According to a recent report, the official cost of cleaning up 20 nuclear reactors in the United Kingdom is estimated to be more than $150 billion (Dh550bn). The UAE and this region should rely on renewable energy resources. This is the future," he said.