BUSINESS

GCC women lead the charge to transform region into a smart energy powerhouse

March 07, 2018

DUBAI — As the Gulf countries press ahead with bold plans for transformation towards greater energy efficiency and renewable power sources, there is a growing need for regulation of energy use, increased collaboration between corporates and countries, and data-driven innovation if the transition to smart energy is going to be successful.

That was the message from an expert panel of women powering the UAE’s future energy plans during a captivating session at the first-ever Global Smart Energy Summit (GSES), a thought leadership and knowledge sharing conference running alongside Middle East Electricity 2018 (MEE) at Dubai World Trade Centre until March 8.

The powerful all-female panel of Engineer Fatima Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Under-Secretary for Electricity and Future Energy, Ministry of Energy & Industry, UAE; Habiba Al Mar’ashi, Co-Founder and Chairperson, Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), UAE; Engineer Suhaila Marafi, Director, Department of Studies & Research, Ministry of Electricity & Water, Kuwait; and Engineer Maitha Khalifa Al Mazroei, Head of Sustainability Research & Studies Section, Dubai Municipality, discussed ‘Regional smart energy leadership: Accelerating the global transition to smart energy through policy reform’.

Reflecting on the environmental impact of the GCC’s rapid economic growth over the past two decades, Al Mar’ashi emphasized the importance of transitioning to smart energy systems to secure sustainable future development.

“Economic growth must go hand-in-hand with socio-environmental health and we need to look at how we work to correct and reverse the impacts of climate change and global warming by entering an era of renewable energy powered smart energy,” she said.

Engineer Al Mazroei highlighted the role of Dubai and Dubai Municipality in realising the UAE’s sustainable development goals by citing one of emirate’s many forward-thinking energy initiatives - the recent announcement of the world’s largest AED2.5 billion waste-to-energy plant, which aims to treat 1.82-million tonnes of solid waste annually with capacity to generate 185 MW of electricity by 2020. Similarly, Kuwait’s commitment to future energy projects, including a $1.2 billion investment in power plants, further demonstrates the GCC’s commitment to smarter solutions for meeting regional energy needs, said Engineer Marafi from Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity & Water.

While GCC states continue to make impressive in-roads in addressing energy consumption, and climate change, the far-reaching mission could be enhanced by the consolidation of research, regional regulation and data-driven decisions. Promoting the value of data in the pursuit of clean energy, Eng. Marafi said: “In Kuwait, we conducted research to identify the country’s largest sources of energy waste and found that our schools and mosques were the biggest contributors due to central air conditioning being left on extensively throughout the year. As a result, regulation was introduced to control air conditioning usage, which saved a total of 500 megawatts in one year alone.”

The GCC’s demand for energy will require $81 billion investment in another 62GW of increased capacity over the next five years according to the Venture Onsite 2018 GCC Power Market report, commissioned by this week’s Middle East Electricity., The panel concluded that regulation of the sector has never been more vital and increased collaboration at both national and regional levels is a priority, while collaboration to manage and use data is another must.

“The role of the private sector in working with governments to drive innovation through the use of disruptive technologies and constructive management of data must be on the table to help us build climate resilient and carbon-neutral cities,” said Al Mar’ashi.


March 07, 2018
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