GCC utilities are engaged in a relentless expansion and modernisation drive in an attempt to catch up with the rapidly increasing demands of growing urban and industrial centres. No one does this with quite as much flair as Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea). Alongside state-owned clean technology company Masdar, Adwea is pushing the boundaries of power generation.

Having to provide additional generation capacity to cater for power and water demand set to double and increase by half respectively by 2015 is quite a challenge. So Adwea has gone to great lengths to explore other ways to provide Abu Dhabi’s citizens with basic services.

It has brought online huge power and water projects, such as the Fujairah IWPP and supplied the poorer Northern Emirates with power and water in the past. Now, Adwea has made Adu Dhabi the first city in the region that is entirely smart metered, with wireless transmitters enabling the authority a precise and up-to-date reading of power and water consumption.

For the 100MW Shams concentrated solar power (CSP) power plant, it will introduce one of the region’s first feed-in tariffs – essential to make solar projects economically viable.

In the Masdar City experiment, meanwhile, various pilot projects assess the feasibility of renewables technology in the region.

Adwea is taking another huge stride towards energy efficiency and the introduction of alternative energy. With an ambitious energy storage masterplan, it is creating another regional first. A total of 1,350MW of power could be stored at substations across the emirate within a decade, at a cost of up to $10bn.

This would eliminate the need for additional peaker plants, which ramp up production during peak demand periods and ease the integration of intermittent energy sources, such as solar power, or constant sources, such as nuclear power, which will come online from 2017.

This is no mean feat, and a refreshing alternative to simply throwing money at a problem.