Sunday, August 24, 2008

Emirate’s demand for power to double in next five years

Original Article

Demand for electricity will double in the emirate of Abu Dhabi over the next five years, while water demand will surge 43 per cent, according to a new forecast from Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea).

The latest Adwea projections, published yesterday by WAM, the official UAE news agency, suggest the largest UAE emirate will be under intense pressure to keep its power and water development projects on track, and that it could have less excess electricity available to export to other needy emirates.

According to WAM, Adwea has developed a five-year plan to increase water production to 969 million gallons per day from 626 gallons per day, representing a 55 per cent increase in output from Abu Dhabi’s desalination plants.

The emirate depends on the desalination of seawater as its main source of drinking water and of water for agriculture, industry and sanitation, as it has an arid climate and inadequate groundwater and rivers.

Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council has forecast the emirate’s population expanding to 1.3 million people in 2013, up 40 per cent from 930,000 last year.

In May, Government-owned Adwea unveiled a five-year master plan for electricity development, including proposals for two urgently needed power and water projects. The projects, likely to cost about US$2 billion (Dh7.3bn) each, were intended to cover an electricity shortfall that would otherwise materialise in 2012.

Adwea said the developments would each supply 1.5 gigawatts of electricity and 100 million gallons of water per day for Abu Dhabi and the norther emirates. Production would start in 2012 or 2013. They would be fuelled by gas to be supplied by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

But it is by no means clear whether Adnoc will immediately have gas available for Adwea’s projects. For the past several years, Abu Dhabi has been forced to burn diesel in some of its power plants due to insufficient gas supplies. It is a costly and polluting measure that reduces the amount of oil that Abu Dhabi can export, but has been the only way for Adwea to fulfil its legal obligation to supply the emirate’s power needs.

Adwea has gas supply contracts with Adnoc and Dolphin Energy, the Abu Dhabi company that imports gas from Qatar via an undersea pipeline.

Adnoc, with the help of ConocoPhilips, the US energy company, plans to develop new gas production from Abu Dhabi’s onshore Shah gasfield, a repository of deadly sour gas thousands of metres below ground, but the gas is unlikely to flow before 2013.

For its part, Dolphin wants to increase its gas imports by 60 per cent to the full 3.2 million cubic foot per day capacity of its pipeline, but is unlikely to succeed until at least 2013 due to a Qatari moratorium on increased gas production from its main gasfield.

As a long-term solution to supplying the UAE’s growing power and water requirements, the Government has embarked on a programme to develop civil nuclear power. However, no nuclear plants are yet being built, and none is likely to be commissioned for at least the next eight years.

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