Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO, Empower: Interview

Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO, Empower

Interview: Ahmad Bin Shafar

How will Dubai’s demand side management (DSM) strategy evolve going forward? What opportunities will this bring for private investment?

AHMED BIN SHAFAR: The government of Dubai is focused on achieving its objective of making the emirate a role model in energy efficiency and security, and the DSM strategy will play a key role in achieving this. It is a unique initiative in the region that will help us to adopt energy conservation principles into our core values, and will contribute significantly toward achieving the goal of reducing energy demand by 30% by 2030. The DSM strategy has short-, medium- and long-term components, and as these are executed, they will provide opportunities for energy-efficient businesses. For example, district cooling, an energy-efficient cooling solution, has been identified as one of the key pillars of the DSM strategy. It is expected that the penetration of district cooling services will increase from around 20% to 40% by 2030, which will provide significant growth opportunities in that industry.

As the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy continues, how might this create new space for joint ventures and international partnerships?

BIN SHAFAR: The Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 is the launching pad for several measures and projects targeting DSM, renewable power, energy service contractors, green building codes, and energy-efficient technologies. The strategy envisages that the public-private partnership model will be a key catalyst in implementing these measures, hence it will provide new business opportunities for joint ventures and international partnerships.

Given the varying views and practices among GCC nations on sustainability, in which areas might greater unity be sought in the near term?

BIN SHAFAR: GCC nations would greatly benefit from developing unified policies that work towards developing renewable energy sources and utilising oil and gas reserves. For example, oil and gas can be used to produce petrochemicals, which is proving to be a profitable downstream industry for exports given its many applications in plastics and fertilisers. This will not only help secure the future of energy, it will also create economic diversification and new jobs for the GCC’s local economies. Through combined efforts, we will be in a strong position to play a significant role in the global renewable energy market.

What challenges could Dubai face as it presses ahead with its clean energy ambitions?

BIN SHAFAR: Dubai is wholly committed to innovation across all sectors, a pledge that is emphasised in the designation of 2015 as the “Year of Innovation”. The emirate’s leadership is dedicated to deploying more clean energy solutions in order to achieve its sustainability goals. One challenge that is being overcome is the need for infrastructure in research and development, such as universities and laboratories, that will enable researchers to do their work. A second challenge lies in encouraging more of the Emirati population to enter this field and to help drive this sector forward for the benefit of their country. Given the Dubai government’s determination to succeed, however, I am fully confident that these challenges will not stand in the way of Dubai achieving its high ambitions for clean energy.

How might new laws affect sectors like alternate energy and district cooling that are unregulated beyond the government’s general guidelines?

BIN SHAFAR: As far as the district cooling industry is concerned, there has been a lot of deliberation in the past few months regarding regulation. Besides tariffs, a few aspects of regulation that are being debated include scheme designing, cooling load estimates, thermal energy storage, treated sewage effluent retrofitting, sub ?metering, operations, electricity and water use, service standards and, finally, customer service.

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The Report: Dubai 2015

Energy chapter from The Report: Dubai 2015

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