Driving clean energy in Dubai H.E-Saeed-AL-TAYER

We aim to provide 100% of Dubai’s total power production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050.


Driving clean energy in Dubai

September 13, 2023

H.E. Saeed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), talks to The Energy Year about how the authority is reducing its carbon footprint and its latest initiatives in solar, hydrogen and pumped-storage hydropower. DEWA manages Dubai’s entire value chain of electricity and water, from production to transmission and distribution.

This interview is featured in The Energy Year UAE 2023

How is DEWA enhancing the efficiency of its operations and reducing its carbon footprint?
DEWA is operating and planning its future in line with the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative, the Dubai Clean Energy ‎Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050 to provide 100% of Dubai’s total power production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050.
This objective should be achieved in an economically viable way that enhances Dubai’s economy and without sacrificing the world-class reliability record of DEWA. To achieve this, a three-pronged strategy is in place: increase the efficiency of existing conventional generation, maximise renewable energy deployment and incorporate smart grid management to integrate variable renewable energy effectively.
The first component is addressed by integrating the latest technology in turbine efficiency as well as low-grade thermal energy utilisation for water desalination, and has resulted in 37.78% efficiency improvements from 2006 to 2022 and a 32% reduction in carbon emissions per kWh produced. Looking ahead, the Hassyan gas-fired power plant is designed for and ready to integrate carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) systems that could further reduce its emissions by more than 80% once implemented. A study and pilot for CCUS potential is currently being undertaken by the DEWA Research and Development Centre.
The second component, focused on the adoption of solar energy, is spearheaded by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which currently has 2,127 MW of PV and CSP in operation. An additional 700 MW of CSP with 15 hours of energy storage are about to be completed. Once fully completed in 2030, it will provide 5 GW of installed solar capacity.
Residential and commercial users are also contributing to solarisation through the Shams Dubai solar rooftop initiative, which has already exceeded 500 MW of installed capacity and is expected to exceed 1 GW by 2030. In addition, water desalination is being electrified with the deployment of high-efficiency reverse osmosis plants; the first 120-MIGD [million-gallon-per-day] plant currently under tender as an independent water producer is expected to be commissioned in 2025.
Last but not least, the cost-effective integration of variable renewable energy sources is key for the system’s reliability. This requires accurate short- and medium-term solar output forecasts, a capability enabled by DEWA Research and Development Centre research that integrates machine learning, sky cameras and satellite images from the DEWA Space-D programme and meteorological satellites.
It is further enabled by energy storage, for which a portfolio of options is under development: 700 MW of thermal storage by the CSP plants, 250 MW of pumped hydro storage and the complement of battery energy storage systems (BESS) that will be required to provide ancillary grid support cost effectively and which is under investigation by the DEWA Research and Development Centre.
Additional forward-looking initiatives include a smart living programme that helps consumers optimise their energy demand; virtual power plant (VPP) implementations that can aggregate and harness the potential of distributed energy resources (DER), and smart systems like dynamic line rating for transmission lines that can support optimal utilisation of the grid resources.

What have been the latest developments at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park?
We strive to keep pace with demand by implementing ‎pioneering projects to diversify sources of energy production to include various clean and ‎renewable energy sources and technologies in Dubai. We have updated DEWA’s strategic plan to focus on ensuring net zero by 2050 and supporting the circular economy.
This is in line with the declaration of 2023 as the “Year of Sustainability” in the ‎UAE by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, and the ‎vision of Vice-President and Prime ‎Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for sustainability as the cornerstone of all social, ‎economic and environmental development plans.‎
Among the most prominent of these projects is the ‎Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world, ‎using the independent power producer (IPP) model with a production capacity of 5,000 MW by ‎‎2030. The production capacity of clean energy in Dubai has reached 2,127 MW using ‎photovoltaic solar power (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP). This is about 14.6% of Dubai’s total power production capacity.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park has several projects such as energy production using ‎solar photovoltaic and CSP‎‏ ‏technologies‏. The solar ‎park also contains DEWA’s Innovation Centre, which aims to support innovation and creativity in different areas of ‎clean and renewable energy, raise awareness about sustainability and develop Emirati talent. It also ‎contains our Research and Development Centre, which focuses on four areas of research including ‎producing electricity from solar power and other clean energy technologies; the integration of smart ‎grids; energy efficiency; and water.‎
The regulatory frameworks in Dubai, which enable the private sector to take part in energy ‎production projects, have encouraged international investors and developers to participate in ‎the solar park’s projects, which DEWA is implementing using the IPP model. DEWA has attracted investments of around AED 40 billion [around USD 11 billion] ‎through this model in public-private partnerships. DEWA received the lowest solar energy prices ‎‎(levelised cost of energy) globally five consecutive times, making Dubai a global benchmark for solar ‎power prices. ‎
DEWA has appointed a consortium of companies led by EY Consulting to provide consultancy services for implementing the sixth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al ‎Maktoum Solar Park based on the IPP model.
The 1,800-MW Phase VI ‎of Mohammed ‎bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will use photovoltaic solar panels and will become operational ‎in stages starting from 2024. Furthermore, DEWA has two phases which are under construction with a ‎total capacity of 833 MW in addition to future phases to reach 5,000 MW by 2030‎‏.‏


How will DEWA further embrace hydrogen initiatives?
DEWA has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the green hydrogen landscape and the opportunities it presents and is developing a strategy based on this. The first green hydrogen plant in the Arabian Gulf was commissioned in May 2021 as a partnership between DEWA, Expo 2020 Dubai and Siemens Energy.
The green hydrogen pilot (GHP) is located at the outdoor testing facility of the DEWA Research and Development Centre, part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. It harnesses the solar photovoltaic-generated electricity from Phase I of the solar park to produce green hydrogen during the day using a 1.25-MW proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis. It has the capacity to produce up to 20.5 kg of hydrogen per hour. The green hydrogen produced is stored and used to complement DEWA’s energy storage capability for energy shifting to meet electricity generation demand.
The project operationally demonstrates the production of green hydrogen from solar power, its storage and the re-electrification of hydrogen as the first solar-driven green hydrogen producing facility in the Middle East and North Africa region. It is designed to support future applications and test platforms for the different use cases of hydrogen, including mobility and industrial uses. Further developments in planning cannot currently be disclosed.

Could you give us details on the Hatta pumped-storage hydropower plant’s expected production and storage capacity, as well as its financial value, operational functioning and anticipated impact?
The pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant in Hatta is part of DEWA’s efforts to realise the directives of Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to achieve the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050 to provide 100% of Dubai’s total power production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050.
The plant will have a production capacity of 250 MW, a storage capacity of 1,500 MWh and a lifespan of up to 80 years. This is the first power plant of its kind in the GCC. It entails an investment of up to AED 1.421 billion [USD 386.8 million]. The project is planned for completion by January 2025.
The hydroelectric power plant is a type of energy storage with turnaround efficiency of 78.9% that utilises potential energy of the water stored in the upper dam, which is converted to kinetic energy during the flow of water through the 1.2-kilometre subterranean tunnel. This kinetic energy rotates the turbines and converts mechanical energy to electrical energy which is sent to the DEWA grid.
Then to store energy again, clean energy generated at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is used to pump the water through this tunnel back to the upper dam by converting the electrical energy to kinetic energy and then finally storing it as potential energy in the upper dam, which is 150 metres above Hatta Dam. This makes the whole project 100% renewable.
As for the impact it will have, the project supports the comprehensive plan to develop Hatta and meet its social, economic, developmental and environmental needs, in addition to providing job opportunities for citizens in Hatta.

How is DEWA rolling out its transmission growth plan?
An expansion in any DEWA sector is a well-co-ordinated central planning process which starts with five- and 10-year master plans considering the expected load growth and Dubai’s development expansion. It is undertaken in co-ordination with various stakeholders in Dubai to ensure meeting not only the increase in load but also the needs of future development. The long-term plans are then transferred into yearly projects that are executed in timelines that deliver the projects ahead of the expected load growth. This includes substations and associated connecting lines.

What impact will this have on the well functioning of the DEWA grid?
The growth in the number of transmission substations enhances the safe and efficient transmission of electricity to meet the growth and development requirements for the emirate of Dubai. DEWA’s transmission system is designed such that it maintains a spare supply for all our substations. This design concept enriches the robustness and reliability of the grid and makes it one of the most reliable worldwide and with the least minutes of service interruption. Additionally, the strengthening of DEWA’s grid translates positively into the well functioning of the national grid.

Read our latest insights on: