Plant’s coal fuel polarises sector
Dubai’s choice of coal as a feedstock for its first independent power project could be seen as a controversial choice for the emirate
News that Dubai is going to use coal to fuel its first independent power project (IPP) is likely to elicit mixed reactions within the region’s power sector.
Businesses will be encouraged that Dubai has rekindled its plans to develop power capacity through the private sector and is making progress with energy diversification efforts. However, the selection of coal to fire the plant may lead to questions over the economic and environmental implications.
Dubai’s sudden decision to shelve its proposed gas-fired Hassyan IPP in 2012, after receiving bids, raised doubts over Dubai Electricity & Water Authority’s (Dewa’s) ability to oversee an IPP and the future of private-sector involvement in power projects in the emirate.
Dewa’s decision to move forward with an IPP shows the utility provider is confident it can still work with the private sector and offer attractive opportunities for developers.
The decision to turn to coal for the IPP is also a step towards meeting the emirate’s energy diversification targets. The disruptions from the Arab Uprisings in 2011 reinforced the importance of guaranteeing energy security through various sources. The selection of coal, however, will result in questions about the environmental repercussions of using the fuel for power generation.
While clean coal plants filter pollutants and are more efficient than traditional power plants, coal is still not an environment-friendly fuel. In an age where governments worldwide are turning away from coal in efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Dubai’s decision to buck the trend may result in criticism that it is neglecting its environmental responsibilities.
If successful, Dubai’s coal power plans may result in others following suit. While the choice of coal for power generation may divide opinion, it will be an interesting project to follow.