Including its current and already-announced power capacity additions, Abu Dhabi expects to experience a 774MW shortfall in power capacity by 2012, climbing to 2,000MW just one year later.

At the same time, 46 million gallons a day (g/d) of desalinated water will also be needed by 2013.

This means the emirate will have to develop independent water and power projects, as simply extending the lifetime of existing plants or installing additional gas turbines, as it has done in the past, will not be sufficient to cover the deficit.

Keith Miller, director of planning and studies at Adwec, says it takes four years to bring an IWPP on line from when a decision to launch the project is made. This means a decision will be needed later this year, if it wants to build a plant by 2012. In 2007, Adwec forecasted Abu Dhabi would need a total capacity of 14,340MW of power by 2020. In its latest forecast, presented at the MEED Power & Water Conference in Abu Dhabi on 18 March, Adwec increased this to 17,469MW.

The leap in demand reflects Adwec’s incorporation of the Urban Planning Council’s (UPC) Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 into its forecast for the first time. The company has also now included demand from the planned Khalifa Port & Industrial Zone in its projections. Prior to the release of the UPC plan, information on planned megaprojects in Abu Dhabi was available only up to 2018.

Significantly, the data from Adwec demonstrates that Abu Dhabi will not have much capacity to spare until a new plant is built. In 2010, spare capacity will amount to 1,742MW, falling to 829MW in 2011.

The lack of spare capacity could have a direct impact on the northern emirates, which in 2007 imported 500MW from Abu Dhabi. This year, it expects up to 800MW of power to come from Abu Dhabi.

The Federal Electricity & Water Authority (Fewa), which is responsible for power generation and desalination in the northern emirates, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea) in January. Under the agreement, Fewa will provide Adwea with land to develop projects in the north of the UAE.

This could be followed by a power purchasing agreement, under which Adwea will supply Fewa with 2,500MW of power by 2015 (MEED 11:1:08).

Given the four-year lead-in time for any power plant, Abu Dhabi would be unable to bring in the full capacity for Fewa until 2012 at the earliest. However, a federal government decision could force Adwea to meet Fewa’s requirements sooner.