Abu Dhabi’s Regulation & Supervision Bureau (RSB) is focusing on demand side management for electricity as meeting peak demand, which has grown by 8 per cent a year over the past few years, is increasingly challenging.

Peak demand reached 8.8 gigawatts in the summer of 2013, but 50 per cent of capacity is not needed for half of the year, according to RSB figures.

Three areas have been singled out for improvements are distribution networks, building and appliance efficiency standards and behavioural changes among consumers.

The transmission and distribution grid will be optimised, using modern digital management systems.

Estidama green building regulations for all new buildings, covering design, construction, operation will improve the efficiency of new housing. Esma energy efficiency standards apply to new equipment, appliance, lighting.

“For the existing building stock, there are big opportunities to improve efficiency,” said Ramiz Hamdan Alaileh, head of the powerwise office at the RSB. ”Air conditioning amounts to 65 per cent of energy consumption in peak summer weeks, so improving efficiency is a priority, through proper maintenance, retrofitting and enforcing compliance with new regulations.”

They are also working with large industries to reduce their consumption at peak times and sell power generated locally to the grid.

Solar rooftop is an area where the RSB hopes to see future growth, and tariffs and regulations are already in place.

“Behavioural changes are a very interesting area,” said Alaileh. “We’ve found that initial changes start with awareness and engagement. Once people understand the issues they start acting on them.”

A smart metering study reduced the electricity use of participants by more than 16 per cent, while controls of chillers in high-rise buildings could reduce power usage by 20-30 per cent with only a 1.5 per cent rise in temperature and no significant effect on comfort.

Abu Dhabi introduced water and electricity tariffs for nationals, and increased rates across the board in November 2014, in an effort to curb demand. Figures from Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Company (Adwec) suggest that Abu Dhabi is facing a potential shortfall of electricity over the next five years. While the commissioning of the 5.6GW Baraka nuclear complex from 2017 will secure the emirate’s mid-to-long term power needs, delays to the Mirfa power and water project mean there is a near-term risk of a shortage.