Abu Dhabi gears up for new expansion programme

17 March 2006
Abu Dhabi is preparing for a major expansion of its installed generating capacity to meet a projected surge in demand from real estate projects now entering the construction phase. 'We expect Abu Dhabi electricity demand to double in the period 2008-13,' Keith Miller, head of the planning and studies department at Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Company (ADWEC), told the MEED Power & Desalination conference in Abu Dhabi on 12 March. 'To give you an idea of the scale of these schemes, just one of the mega projects planned, Al-Raha Beach, will have the same population as the entire Western region.'
ADWEC has recently completed a new electricity and water demand forecast up to 2020. Given the uncertainties of the timing and size of some of the mega projects, the number of expatriates that will be living in the developments and the fact that several large-scale projects have still to be announced, it has drawn up three separate demand scenarios, covering a high, low and base forecast, which is judged the most likely.

What is clear is that the mega projects will have a major impact on power demand in 2009-15. Under its base electricity demand scenario, ADWEC estimates that the mega projects will contribute 1,221 MW to peak power demand in 2009, rising to 3,989 MW in 2013 and 4,370 MW in 2015, before reaching 4,644 MW in 2020. Overall, ADWEC forecasts that the system peak demand will reach 7,333 MW in 2009, 12,590 MW in 2015 and 14,226 MW in 2020. In 2006, the system peak is estimated at 4,680 MW.

The growth in water demand will be less dramatic. 'We assume the mega projects will make greater use of water reuse,' Miller said. ADWEC estimates in its base forecast that peak water demand will rise from 635 million gallons a day (g/d) in 2006 to 746 million g/d in 2009, 881 million g/d in 2015 and 957 million g/d in 2020.

Abu Dhabi will have sufficient existing capacity to cover demand up until and including 2008. 'In 2009, we will be in slight deficit, which will increase in the subsequent years as the mega projects are commissioned,' Miller said. 'We are looking at various means of covering the increased demand. New capacity will need to be put in place by 2009/10.'

Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA) has still to decide the location for its next IWPP. There are several options available, including building new capacity at Shuweihat in the Western Region or at Qidfa in Fujairah emirate.

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