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Sun 1 Apr 2007 03:04 PM

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Efficiency and conservation

Greater reliability and efficiency are traits DEWA wants to see in technology employed in new developments, as more and more people start to draw on Dubai's electricity and water resources.

Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, is a man keen to promote efficiency. He wants to see his customers benefit from being more efficient and he wants to see his network benefit too.

WETEX, the Dubai-based exhibition and conference, which took place in March, is one channel through which DEWA is encouraging an increase in efficiency.

"[WETEX] is intended to introduce modern technology with the highest level of efficiency and reliability," said Al Tayer.

"There is a lot of equipment available to conserve water and electricity. The exhibition enables companies to demonstrate modern technologies and solutions to support advances. It covers the latest scientific developments for the benefit of experts, engineers and technicians in different fields."

Al Tayer acknowledged that WETEX also serves an educational role, sharing information with the industry on preserving resources and using them wisely. He is also clear that he wants to see new technologies adopted by business and industry, suggesting that they may be especially relevant to some of the mega projects under development, particularly when it comes to the management of demand. He thinks technology can open doors to energy savings, controlling factors such as temperature and lighting.

"There is software and hardware available and DEWA will act as a consultant, advising any customer in order to help them select the right packages - it's very important," he said.

Around the Middle East there are increasing numbers of utility projects, in the form of independent water and power projects, bringing in private investment. There have been calls for greater investment opportunity and more emphasis on public/private partnerships in Dubai too. Since DEWA is seeing growth in demand for its services run at 15%, sourcing investment from private industry sources may become a more interesting prospect. But Al Tayer is clear that for now there is no problem meeting levels of demand and while he said DEWA is open to suggestions in terms of public/private partnerships, there is nothing on the table at the moment.

"If [a project] is feasible and technically and commercially acceptable, DEWA may consider it, but at the moment we don't have any proposals," said Al Tayer.

"We are meeting the requirements of projects," he said. "We plan ahead - there is good coordination between developers and DEWA and we discuss power requirements. DEWA can take on more customers and can take more developments."

Other developments include the possibility of introducing a dual tariff system, which would be particularly useful for cooling providers.

"This is a subject under study," said Al Tayer. "We have already advised [district cooling providers] that a plant should be designed in such a way in order to shift the peak load, such as by using ice storage and this has already been conveyed to many chilled water companies.

"So far I have received two positive responses and they are doing this according to the DEWA guidelines. They will also make savings themselves because there are also operating cost savings...if they change to ice storage, they will definitely benefit. There is a reduction in costs when you shift to ice storage."

Al Tayer is on the look out for other efficiencies too, all of which help to reduce the demands made on his network. He believes that through a two-stage process of education and promotional activity followed by regulation, DEWA can convince contractors to use more energy efficient products and make savings through optimisation of their utility use.

"I'm not talking about small buildings, I'm talking about mega projects," he said. "We already have experience with some consumers. They appreciate our efforts and we know from our meters that they save a lot.

"In the future I think we will have to reinforce use of the most efficient equipment because DEWA will not tolerate [the use of] inefficient equipment. But before that, I think we have to educate the industry."

A timescale for the introduction of any such legislation has not been decided and guidelines have still to be developed, but Al Tayer assures that it is coming. "I think the market is [currently] open, but once there are guidelines, regulations and specifications for electromechanical equipment, everybody must abide by the rules and regulations. They will be enforced," he stresses.

Al Tayer notes that energy efficient products are being used to some extent, but warns that there are also inefficient options in the market, something he wants to see change. Citing air conditioning as an example he points out the positive moves made to improve the efficiency of products used.

"In the past we had in the market any equipment for air conditioning; we changed the specification to say air conditioning units must have an inbuilt capacitor bank in order to improve the power factor, now these are the only type used," he said.

With efficiency the main focus for DEWA and the future consumption of power and water, DEWA compares favourably to other utilities, suffering from only around 5% line loss, compared to averages of 7-8% in Europe and the UK. It will continue to push its message of efficiency into the construction market and to consumers.

"Efficiency is very important for us," said Al Tayer. "DEWA is very interested in efficient equipment and materials and in the future I'm sure there will be regulations for the most efficient equipment."

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