H.E. Eng. Mohammed Juma Bin Jarsh Al Falasi, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy. His Excellency Al Falasi is the Chairman of Fujairah Asia Power Co, and serves as a Board member of the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority and Abu Dhabi Transmission and Despatch Company.
In addition, H.E. Al Falasi is a member of Crises and Disaster Recovery Team for Abu Dhabi, as well as a member of various committees in the Department of Energy and its Group Companies, such as the Executive Committee, and related Water Committee.
H.E. is a member of several federal committees and boards, such as the President's Initiatives Committee, the Federal Water and Electricity Authority Board, and the Emirates Council for Climate Change and Environment Board.
H.E. Al Falasi holds a bachelor’s degree of Science, Electrical Engineering, University of Colorado, Denver, USA, 1995.
1. What are Abu Dhabi’s most pressing energy priorities?
The energy sector is constantly evolving, transforming and experiencing the rapid pace of change that all sectors are facing today – it’s the “New Normal”. Energy touches us all. The development of our energy resources will drive our economy for decades to come. Energy, therefore, needs to be considered in the broadest possible context - the environment, the economy, and our communities and residents. It is for this reason, we ensure that our priorities reflect a considered and balanced approach.
Today, policy makers around the world are facing an equally daunting and important challenge in the era of climate and technology change.
Our 5 key energy priorities are:
- Enhanced energy security to meet future demand: We continue to ensure that Abu Dhabi has a strong and diverse energy supply. In particular, the utilities sector in the Emirate is heavily dependent on natural gas as an energy source. Similarly, a large proportion of potable water is produced by gas-powered desalination plants. Much of the world is moving away from oil and gas for its electricity generation, as are we in the UAE. Our investment in renewables and nuclear power generation projects is testimony of that.
Abu Dhabi will also be planning ahead to ensure that power and water supply are sustainable in the long term. Currently, our power plants have sufficient capacity to meet peak summer demand. However, our power needs are expected to grow about 15 percent a year to reach some 21,000 MW by 2020. Diversifying energy sources is a key strategy to ensure future energy security. Abu Dhabi has already laid the foundation for this by investing in alternative energy sources to reduce dependence on natural gas.
As His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces has articulated, water is an even more important resource for the UAE than oil. It also explains why our country has been pursuing an ambitious agenda towards sustainable water security over the past decades.
- Energy efficiency and environment sustainability: Developing appropriate infrastructure, while preserving the environment. We recognise the need to balance economic growth with environmental sustainability in order to ensure long-term sustainability, and limit carbon emissions and their repercussions. Better awareness and demand side management programmes such as Tarsheed among residents, and the efficient use of power and water can both help to achieve better energy efficiency.
- Clean energy for the UAE: Achieving 7 percent renewable generation by 2020, especially in Abu Dhabi, remains a priority. Since Abu Dhabi is designated as the permanent headquarters for IRENA, the UAE has worked tirelessly to provide necessary resources and capacities to support IRENA’s strategy, goals, and future plans. This is congruent with the UAE’s view that renewable energy is the energy of the future. Financial mechanisms have evolved the field, with renewable energy prices now more cost competitive with conventional forms of power generation like natural gas, coal and diesel.
- Diversification of the energy mix: The fuel used to generate power in the UAE could be exported to other countries to make a profit. Diversifying energy sources is a key strategy to ensure future energy security. The UAE will continue to explore and invest in alternative energy, emerging technologies, and innovation in the sector. It could have a secure, steady, and stable supply backed by innovative technologies for transmission and storage and harnessing synergies with an
- Developing human capital and harnessing growth enablers: Harnessing a combination of human, physical, and financial capital will generate the productivity and competitiveness it needs to drive sector growth, and meet the challenges of the future. Abu Dhabi is also looking to develop sufficient and resilient electricity and water infrastructure and assets capable of supporting the anticipated economic growth. This will be complemented by a highly skilled, highly productive work force and young nationals to shape the Emirate’s future as major economic contributors.
2. The Department of Energy launched the Abu Dhabi Tarsheed Programme last year to reduce energy consumption. What are the key initiatives introduced under the programme and their effectiveness?
We launched Tarsheed as an umbrella program for all demand-side management work in the Emirate during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Currently, we have around six initiatives under Tarsheed:
- Ka’afati initiative: This is a building retrofit programme targeting five million sqm of floor-space in over 3,000 buildings focused on energy – air conditioning, lighting, and controls. It also encourages water savings through efficiency retrofits. A parallel initiative will focus on Chiller System Optimisation to save 826 GWh/year without the need for equipment replacement. Our target is a 446 GWh reduction per year in 3,000 buildings by mid-2022.
- Consultation with selected industries: The objective is to provide large industrial customers who are large consumers of electricity or water in Abu Dhabi with recommendations on how to improve the efficiency of their operations.
- Irrigation optimisation of private gardens: The objective is to reduce the consumption of desalinated water for landscape irrigation at key large buildings and lead by example for national residents to improve the efficiency of landscape irrigation systems in residential villas. The goal is to reduce the current daily consumption of 313,805 cubic metres by 40 percent, which amounts to AED 475 million yearly.;
- Education of customers: This aims to provide customers with information on the efficient use of electricity and water, including technologies and appliances. This programme has achieved 36 percent brand recognition in the first six months, with over 85 percent of customers having taken actions and an average of 60 percent planning to do so, to reduce water and electric consumption.
- Leak detection and early warning: The objective is to develop a software solution to analyse daily water use and detect when water usage is higher than a customer’s normal baseline use, indicating a potential leak on the customer side of the meter. The software routine is designed to regularly analyse daily water consumption data provided by automated meter reading (AMR)-equipped residences to identify usage patterns that may be associated with leakage.
- Masjidi initiative: High-efficiency, durable, automatic shut-off, low-flow faucets will replace old inefficient units in all public mosques in Abu Dhabi and Al-Dhafra.
3. What are some of Abu Dhabi Department of Energy’s key strategies in attracting more energy investments from the private sector?
By 2030, the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy’s intends to build a sustainable and diversified, high value-added sector that encourages enterprises and entrepreneurship, while providing more accessible and higher-value opportunities for all stakeholders. In meeting future demand, Abu Dhabi will benefit from the liberalisation and deregulation of some elements of its utilities sector (mainly power generation) in the past, which is key to ensuring robust, demand-sensitive power and water provision. It is also the most effective way to attract private capital and international expertise.
The water sector is more liberalised than any other state in the region, with all aspects of sourcing, distribution, and wastewater collection open to the private sector. Power generation is also open to private sector participation, with several plants in the Emirate being operated by privately owned entities.
Another example of private sector investment in renewable generation is the world’s biggest photovoltaic solar plant, which is set to start operating by April 2019; the 1.177-gigawatt project in Abu Dhabi is well on track. The project is being developed by a consortium of China’s Jinko Solar and Japan’s Marubeni Corp., with each company holding a 20 percent share. The other 60 percent by Abu Dhabi Government-owned entity received a world record-low bid of 2.42 cents a kilowatt-hour for power from the planned facility.
We will set up a start-up fund to encourage with innovation and research in the sector with our counterparts around the world.
We wish to see the creation of higher-value employment opportunities in the renewable space, especially for Nationals, and maximising the participation of women in the workforce. The sector will also continue to attract, develop, and retain a skilled and effective workforce in which Nationals are active participants, working alongside specialists from abroad, in order to stimulate faster economic growth.
4. What are some of the experiences that the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy has gained from its exchanges with regional and international partners?
The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy have looked to benchmark against the experiences of flourishing ‘transformation economies’, such as Singapore and Norway. We have exchanged and gained knowledge on how the utility sector and business models in these countries are evolving, getting ready for future challenges, responding to the pace of technological and digital change, and harnessing the capabilities of research and development for future competitiveness. In addition, we also learned how human capital is being enhanced through the improvement of education, training, and other methods to improve the employability, productivity, and competitiveness of the workforce. Faced with the prospects of a more globalised economy, the Emirate can rely on its established network to respond to the many challenges of increasing globalization.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy will continue to focus on developing an effective program to stimulate research and development in local innovation, and to facilitate the integration with global innovation centers such as Singapore, Norway, and India.
5. What are your thoughts on the SIEW 2018 theme “Transforming Energy: Invest, Innovate, Integrate”?
It will act as a global platform for all stakeholders to discuss the engine of the growth – energy. We are living in interesting times, whereby sector and industry are settling with new normal. SIEW 2018 will focus on three themes which is quite relevant for us and everyone around in the world, such as targeted R&D and how digital technology can create an innovative ecosystem that can help meet energy efficiency goals while boosting the overall economy.