At a recent press conference to announce the World Energy Forum (WEF), from October 22 to 24 in Dubai, the message was rammed home that Dubai is serious in its intent to pursue an energy-efficient future and that the fact that it would be hosting the Forum – a unique honour, considering that the event will be held for the first time ever outside the UN headquarters in New York City – was a recognition of the initiatives it has taken. This came from none other than Dr Harold Hyun Suk Oh, the Chairman of the WEF, and he spoke quite effusively in praise of Dubai’s Integrated Energy Strategy 2030.
One of the key initiatives by Dubai is the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park project, launched earlier in the year, which according to an official at the press conference, has progressed into the implementation stage, with the aim of realising 10 MW of electricity, out of the avowed 1,000 MW by 2030. Another is the fact that the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) has managed to achieve 400 MW of power without any additional use of fuel, so said H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, the MD and CEO of DEWA, and the Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Energy Council.
One of the most important principles the WEF is trying to achieve in Dubai is the development of creativity, research and development, technology transfer and the support of entrepreneurship and training opportunities, which the Forum chairman said, would lay the foundations for a sustainable life. The goal of the Forum is laudable, as long as a way can be evolved to translate the intent and words into reality. Technological innovation exists in the UAE but is often hampered by a culture of ‘price comes first’ and, equally, by the price subsidies in place for power. Incentives are oxygen for the innovator or the entrepreneur, and there are many who are able and willing to muddy their knees to squeeze that much more efficiency out of the systems. Going the solar route is a step in the right direction, no doubt; energy efficiency is as much a potent approach. It is not without reason that energy efficiency has been variously described as the ‘fifth fuel’ and ‘the low-hanging fruit’. It is a fond hope that the Forum will give the fifth fuel its place in the sun.
– B Surendar