Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, Minister of Electricity and Water: Interview

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Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, Minister of Electricity and Water

Interview: Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza

How will current developments impact the longterm fitness of the sector?

ABDUL HUSSAIN BIN ALI MIRZA: undefined The development of electricity and water infrastructure in Bahrain has continued at a fast pace during 2017. A master development plan for the infrastructure was created, which sets out the roadmap for continuing the reliable development of the electricity and water systems and infrastructure through 2030. Work is also under way on the expansion of the production facilities in Al Dur to ensure the continued reliability of the network, which will be undertaken by the private sector on the basis of an independent water and power production model.

Construction on the new 400-KV transmission network, the installation of the high-voltage switchgears and the balance of the plant is ongoing. We are hoping we will be in a position to start commissioning the new network in the first half of 2018. The new transmission network will overlay the existing 220-KV network and will allow for the expansion and resilience of the 220-KV system – facilitating the economical transfer of bulk power within the kingdom of Bahrain and with the GCC grid. Peak system demand in 2020 is expected to reach around 4500 MW in the base case scenario. This infrastructure development will allow capacity to meet the future needs of new developments, housing projects and increased demand across the kingdom.

How effective have subsidy cuts been in shifting local demand and reducing domestic consumption?

ALI MIRZA: undefined In terms of electricity production, we have a capacity of nearly 3921 MW, with our highest peak summer demand during 2016 recorded at 3418 MW. The total energy production during 2016 was 17,068 GWh, with the total gas consumption for electricity production around 4.9bn cu metres. The number of customers in 2016 (399,303) increased by around 4.6% compared to the previous year. Residential customers currently account for 47% of energy consumption and almost 75% of water consumption annually. While our generation capacity held up well during the critical summer months of 2016, with continuing population and economic growth, overall use of energy resources in Bahrain is projected to increase. Over the past few years subsidies have been gradually rationalised in order to reduce government spending and promote more efficient usage. The impact of reduced local consumption and increased exports can be significant, given sustained low oil prices and the current budget constraints, so further progress is needed in this area.

What role can the development of green technologies play in the energy and utilities market?

ALI MIRZA: undefined Over the past five years, energy efficiency and renewable energy have been the focus of our attention. Bahrain joined 174 countries in signing the historic COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change agreement. Our government is working to devise strategies to conserve natural resources, improve energy efficiency and diversify the energy mix in order to ensure a viable economic development of the kingdom. A Sustainable Energy Unit was created to establish strategies, policies and legislation that will promote energy efficiency and increase the production of energy from renewable sources, as well as reduce pollution from gas-fired thermal power plants. This think tank is now bearing fruit, with the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan receiving the endorsement of the Council of the Ministers. The implementation of these falls under the Ministry of Electricity and Water Affairs and includes,among other targets, a 5% contribution from renewable energies by 2025, rising to 10% by 2035. The private sector has a lot to contribute in this area through the development of new technologies and more efficient means of implementation. As green technologies become cheaper and more economically viable, they will take on a greater role in the energy production and consumption calculus.

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The Report: Bahrain 2018

Energy chapter from The Report: Bahrain 2018

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