‘A draft has been submitted and a response is expected by early June,’ said Gilles Nicoud, Gulf resident manager of Electricite de France (EdF), at the MEED Power in the Middle East conference in Abu Dhabi on 28 May.

In May 2000, EdF signed the phase 1 consultancy contract for the ENG project. Germany’s Fichtner is assisting EdF on the contract. The project called for the establishment of a national grid through the interconnection of the UAE’s power systems (MEED 8:6:01).

He said that the draft has also been submitted to the five utilities – Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority, Federal Electricity & Water Authority and Union Water & Electricity Company.

The main findings of the techno-economic study put the estimated cost of the ENG at AED 630 million-680 million ($172 million-185 million) and proposed the establishment of an Emirates control and settlement system. It also recommended the creation of an independent authority to be owned by the five independent utilities. To be called Federal Electricity & Grid Authority, it will build, own and operate the grid.

The proposed interconnection system revolves around the installation of two 400-kV transmission lines between Dhaid in the emirate of Sharjah and H station in Dubai emirate. It also entails the installation of two 400-kV transmission lines between H station and either Shahama or Taweelah in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Also, a 400/220-kV substation is proposed at Dhaid and one 220-kV double circuit transmission line will be laid between Dhaid and Sajaa, also in the emirate of Sharjah.

The five utilities are expected to derive substantial benefits from a unified power grid. In particular, it should reduce the need to maintain reserve capacities, resulting in significant cost savings. In addition, it should grant the utilities added flexibility in undertaking maintenance work.

Nicoud said that the studies indicated that the capacity savings from the ENG in 2010 would reach 1,150 MW for the whole of the UAE. He added that the internal rate of return was 22-26 per cent depending on which grid system option was adopted.