By Ahmed Elneimy
ABU DHABI, 20th June, 2022 (WAM) — The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) is adopting innovative policies to achieve its vision for a more sustainable future, said Ahmed Al Rumaithi, Undersecretary of the DoE.
He revealed that the DoE is currently working on developing the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Policy and Regulatory Framework, including the Low Carbon Hydrogen Certification Regulatory Policy, technical standards, and licencing procedures.
In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Al Rumaithi said, “With the emergence of hydrogen as a clean energy option, Abu Dhabi is relying on its resources and capabilities to form a national Hydrogen strategy and become a leader in the international hydrogen market.”
“Hydrogen is a clean fuel and is poised to become the fuel of the future for heavy industries, such as transportation, aircraft, shipping, steel production, and others,” he added.
Remarkable progress in hydrogen The DoE undersecretary noted that Abu Dhabi has made remarkable progress in the field of hydrogen, taking advantage of the abundance of solar power and increasingly low-cost renewable energy. “One of the important initiatives was the launch of the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance (the Alliance) in 2020 to consolidate our international leadership in hydrogen and develop the local hydrogen economy.”
Al Rumaithi pointed out that Abu Dhabi enjoys a competitive advantage that qualifies it to play a greater role in the field of hydrogen globally due to the presence of huge reserves of hydrogen-bearing compounds, such as natural gas, its large industrial capabilities across the energy chain, its advanced infrastructure, extensive export experience, and its central location among large demand markets.
Abu Dhabi’s financing capabilities, flexibility, and the presence of appropriate regulatory frameworks to attract foreign investment are also key factors in the push towards hydrogen.
He added that as part of the UAE’s announcement of its roadmap for hydrogen production during the COP26 meetings, the DoE is working closely with all stakeholders to make Abu Dhabi a leading global hub for hydrogen and a significant trading partner and supplier of hydrogen to the world.
Support to electric vehicles With regard to the Department’s strategy to support electric vehicles, Al Rumaithi asserted that the sector presents an important opportunity for Abu Dhabi to enhance environmental sustainability and reduce harmful emissions from vehicles that run on fossil fuels.
He added that the DoE had recently launched a regulatory policy to develop the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the emirate, which defines the criteria for establishing an electric vehicle charging network throughout Abu Dhabi in public, private, and home parking areas. It will also cover policies for ownership, installation, and management of electric vehicle charging equipment and the requirements for providing a charging service.
Electric power generation investments in 2021 alone reached AED18 billion covering various generation technologies, Al Rumaithi revealed. Investments are expected to reach AED50 billion by 2025, and at least AED80 billion by 2050 with clean and renewable energy making up around two-thirds of the investments.
Power generation in Abu Dhabi from renewable sources includes solar energy and clean energy generated at the Barakah nuclear power plants.
He added that for Abu Dhabi’s traditional fossil energy, gas still has a large proportion of the energy supply, with natural gas contributing 86.64 percent of the emirate’s energy generated in 2021.
Leading clean energy projects The official noted that Abu Dhabi is home to several leading clean and renewable energy projects, such as Noor Abu Dhabi, which contributed to the diversity of the emirate’s total generating capacity by nearly 6 percent in 2021. Commercial operations at the Barakah nuclear power plant have increased the capacity of carbon-free energy production by 7 percent to contribute 13 percent of total energy in the emirate.
As more renewable energy projects come online in the future, such as the Al Dhafra solar project with production capacity of two giga watts, and with the full operation of the Barakah plants, the total share of solar energy generated is expected to be 7 percent, while the projected share of clean nuclear energy will be 47 percent by 2025, he said.
Water is a major priority in the emirate, Al Rumaithi pointed out, most notably because of water scarcity, adding that water plays a significant role in the emirate’s sustainability efforts and Abu Dhabi aims to provide reliable water services by enhancing and securing water supply in the future.
He noted that the Department of Energy has made significant efforts to ensure the sustainability and efficiency of water use, issuing numerous regulations and policies to maximise the use of the valuable recycled water in supporting national efforts to preserve water resources.
Water projects He revealed that total water production in Abu Dhabi in 2021 amounted to 1,236 million cubic metres, noting that the peak total demand in 2021 for water was 3.78 million cubic metres per day. Last year’s total water production capacity, meanwhile, was 4.14 million cubic metres per day.
Al Rumaithi asserted that Abu Dhabi has all the latest facilities and technologies to ensure the quality and conformity of water to health specifications and standards, where a total of 50,877 tests were carried out by independent water and energy producers using 64 water quality parameters for Reverse Osmosis (RO) facilities, and 51 parametres for thermal desalination plants. The tests revealed that overall average water quality compliance was 99.85 percent.
In order to sustain water and optimise all water sources in the emirate, Abu Dhabi used nearly 195 million cubic metres of recycled water in 2021 for irrigation.
The official said that Abu Dhabi has several pioneering water desalination projects in its portfolio, most notably the Al Taweelah Desalination Plant, which has now reached 50 percent of its production capacity. The Plant currently produces 454,000 cubic metres of desalinated water per day, and is set to double it to nearly 909,000 cubic metres of desalinated water per day when fully operational, making it the largest reverse osmosis water desalination plant in the world.
“Abu Dhabi is home to four main desalination plants that use reverse osmosis technology, accounting for around 24 percent of the emirate’s total water production capacity,” he said. “We expect the share of production from reverse osmosis to rise to nearly 43 percent by 2025, as the Taweelah plant goes fully operational by the end of the year, and as we finalise purchase agreements for two additional stations: Al Mirfa M2 and Shuweihat S4.”
Carbon neutrality initiatives He shed light on the DoE’s carbon neutrality initiatives and the Department’s role in hosting the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Abu Dhabi in 2023.
“The DoE had showcased nine projects – some existing and others underway – at the COP26 summit,” he continued. “These projects aim to generate clean energy from solar and nuclear sources, supply electricity to water production systems that use reverse osmosis technology, and promote policies that ensure energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions from power generation and water production by no less than 50 percent over the next ten years. Indeed, current clean and renewable energy projects already contribute to a significant reduction in carbon emissions.”
On the energy produced and consumed in Abu Dhabi in 2021, Al Rumaithi revealed that the Abu Dhabi Energy sector’s total installed electricity production capacity amounted to 17,727 MW, while the total electricity generated hit 92,567 GWh. He noted that Abu Dhabi had achieved its goal to generate nearly 13 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources (6 percent from photovoltaic energy and 7 percent from other clean energy) in 2021.
Speaking of the DoE’s future plans in light of the Abu Dhabi Government’s directives, Al Rumaithi revealed that the DoE is set to issue more policies and regulations that help ensure the highest rates of energy efficiency, all the while working to meet the emirate’s water and electricity needs now and in the future, and provide the best services to customers.