Focus on efficiency in energy generation in Dubai


Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced in October 2018 that it was awarding Dh93m ($25.3m) worth of orders for 990 transformers. The transformers, sourced from a number of global manufacturers, will be equipped with smart meters and used to increase the capacity, efficiency and reliability of power distribution in Dubai. “The purchase is part of plans to meet energy policies and strategies laid out in UAE Vision 2021 and Dubai Plan 2021,” Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO at DEWA, told OBG. “We have excelled in efficiency, sustainability and optimal management of infrastructure investments and smart network operations.”

The electric power sector is experiencing continuous investment and growth. Across the UAE, installed generation capacity reached 28.6 GW in 2015, with national targets set to add a further 21 GW by 2030 through a combination of nuclear, solar, coal-fired and gas-fired projects. Investment is also planned in transmission, distribution and grid development and resilience.


Existing plans will see DEWA allocate a total investment of Dh81bn ($22bn) until 2021 to meet energy transmission goals. In early 2018 DEWA awarded Dh1.3bn ($353.9m) in contracts to build four 400/132-KV substations. The deals include construction of the Canal Garden station, which is set to open in February 2020, followed by Dubai South and Shams stations, set to open later that year, and Dubai North planned for January 2021. The contracts were awarded to various firms including Germany’s Siemens, local firm Al Fanar Company, and Swiss-Swedish ABB.

In total, DEWA is planning to build 85 substations over the next three years, at a cost of Dh9bn ($2.4bn), as well as six 400/132-KV substations for Dh2.4bn (653.3m). In line with these goals, in July 2018 DEWA awarded a Dh1.1bn ($299.4m) contract for the construction of electricity transmission projects. In addition to building two 132/11-KV substations and an unspecified number of 400/132-KV substations, the contracts include the laying of 75 km of 132-KV underground cables. In October 2018 another Dh382m ($104m) in contracts were awarded to lay 1548 km of 11-KV power cables.

Efficiency Goals

A high priority has been given to meeting the energy needs of Expo 2020 in Dubai. The total investments spend to meet the trade fair’s electricity and water supply demands was Dh4.3bn ($1.2bn), with the main substations and transmission lines finished two years ahead of schedule.

DEWA’s efficient management of the electricity grid was recognised in the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2019” report, with the UAE ranking first out of 190 countries in the ease of obtaining electricity for a new company category. DEWA’s Al Namoos service can provide connections of up to 150 KW in two steps within 10 days. The UAE also scored highly for reliability and for transparency of tariff indicators.


While there is a focus on ramping up both capacity and electricity supply, there is also a growing awareness of the need to reduce consumption. A study at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) has concluded that the biggest scope for energy savings in the UAE are first in electricity end use and second in oil and gas power generation. They note that the UAE population has been growing at an annual rate of 7.7%, and that electricity tariffs to end-users have been subsidised, encouraging growth in demand, and that electricity consumption is expected to grow at between 7% and 10% up to 2020.

While government policy is to diversify away from overreliance on gas-fired electricity and include more solar, nuclear and coal-fired generation, a supply shortfall is possible. MIST research suggests that to limit or reverse demand growth, there could be big savings from greater cooling efficiencies in buildings, increasing the set point temperature for air conditioning and the use of LED lighting. In the oil and gas sector, the biggest savings could come from using waste heat at the country’s main refineries for power generation purposes.

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The Report: Dubai 2019

Energy chapter from The Report: Dubai 2019

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