Powering the Sustainability Cycle
Writer: Matthew Staff
Production Manager: Donovan Smith
Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority (SEWA) has witnessed massive development since its inception as an entity designed to cover the energy needs of the region, now flourishing within its role as a facilitator of the sustainability cycle.
Initially founded as the private Sharjah Electricity & Water Resources Co, its ownership transference to the Sharjah Government kick-started the successful entity as it is revered today, taking the responsibility of economical, industrial and civilian enrichment through the enhancement of energy facilities upon itself.
“His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al-Qassimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah issued his visionary decree for the establishment of Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) as a financially and administratively independent entity, to distribute and generate electricity, water and gas to the nationals and residents of the emirate,” explains the Chairman, H.E. Dr Rashid Alleem. “This includes generation, transmission and distribution of electrical power to cover the needs of the customers at the various residential, industrial and commercial sectors throughout the emirate of Sharjah as well as the requirements of the public utilities such as Government buildings, hospitals, mosques and lighting of public parks, streets etc.
“To provide such services, SEWA has established several generation power stations and transmission and distribution points covering all parts of the emirate.”
Committed to providing a high quality of service across all strands - electric, water and natural gas - SEWA has moved with the times since its induction, adopting numerous advanced technologies and state-of-the-art processes across its multiple centres to become as turnkey and flexible as possible for its customers.
Online bill payments and enhanced digital communications offer just two examples to this end, making sure that its provision is not just the best from a quality perspective, but best from a customer interaction and satisfaction point of view as well.
“Our main goal is to reduce energy and water consumption and carbon emissions as well as reducing the environmental impact of our operations,” Alleem continues. “Currently, at SEWA head office we have reduced 7.2 percent of carbon footprint in 2016 and 2017 we are striving to reduce 15 footprint of carbon emissions by replacing lights with LED, optimising and controlling the consumption of power.
“We also give awareness to the employees with regards to energy consumption, and this sets an example of what we’re trying to achieve in the rest of Sharjah.”
A much cleaner environment on every platform
SEWA’s philosophy can be broken down into 15 key principles which serve as a roadmap for the Company’s success barometer on both an organisation and personal level; essentially focusing on sustainability and what they call - “a unique combination of critical and lateral thinking”.
Alleem details: “SEWA is constantly dedicated to give high supply of power, water and gas, and continuously develop its facilities to achieve the excellence in obtaining reliable services that would meet the growing demand and exceed the future needs and expectations of our customers.
“We believe that excellence can be achieved only through sustainability by aligning commercial, social and environmental objectives. We mainly focus on the importance of a much cleaner environment on every platform.”
SEWA is subsequently in the process of establishing strategic partnerships with major international companies to help achieve this goal across the three focus areas.
“Electrical power has been served via several new generation units, and distribution and transmission substations are installed to raise the power generation, distribution and transmission capacities,” Alleem notes. “For water supply a comparative development pattern was seen in the field with the appointment and improvement of more desalination plants and well fields. In 1995, SEWA established Zulal Water Factory as an unprofitable Government organisation to produce quality bottled fresh water with best international standards and specifications.
“[Finally], the piped natural gas service was introduced by SEWA for domestic, commercial and industrial purposes as a first of its kind in the region. Introduction of piped gas supply in the Eastern Zone Gas is also in progress.”
Another project within the framework of SEWA’s policy to exploit the feasibility of natural gas as an efficient fuel is the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel for vehicles instead of petrol; once again epitomising the Authority’s technical attributes as well as its adherence to the very latest customer trends and demands.
Working day and night
In line with its commitment to provide a high quality supply of electricity, water and gas, SEWA has, since its inception, assumed continuous expanding programmes to meet the increasing demand across all three facets. This has included the adoption of state-of-the-art technologies within its ever-improving facilities and stations.
“The Programme Progress Department (PPD) was initially started in the year of 2014 and it was formed to execute substations,” Alleem says. “This helps to distribute power in Sharjah. The main motto of PPD is ‘before time, below budget, and on specification’.
“One of the first substations completed was the 33/11 KV Rahmania substation in 2015. People worked day and night for the project to be completed.”
All told, SEWA has around 40 ongoing projects, all of them driven by a commitment to improvement and an acknowledgement that standing still in the energy industry is a dangerous proposition.
For instance, “PPD had conducted a survey which showed that 48 substations where not protected by fire”, Alleem says, “so PPD initiated to protect all substations from fire and to protect all the substations with the latest fire protecting systems”.
Over the next two or three years, a further power plant is set to be unveiled, complemented by the aforementioned fire fighting, LED light and HSE passport-driven initiatives to ensure optimum sustainability and safety.
One of the best
Driving each and every upgrade and innovation is a workforce equally committed to the SEWA cause, the Authority recognising that it is only as strong as its employees. Resultantly, it has fostered an entrepreneurial ownership culture within the organisation to encourage individual ideas and skill attribution.
“The training division develops employee evaluation systems and provides training and technical assistance in performance planning and evaluation. The objectives are to align individual and organisational priorities and promote continuous improvement,” Alleem enthuses. “Developing and enhancing capabilities of staff also calls for adopting and implementing relevant HR best practices and ensuring a high level of employee engagement and a motivated work environment.
“The SEWA talent management strategy ensures that every employee is provided with the guidance and support to achieve their full potential.”
Doing so through the ongoing monitoring of targets, competencies and core values, these buzzwords apply across all of SEWA’s operations, especially when it comes to staying on top of various industry trends; one particularly prevalent at present being the challenging growth in demand for power and water, balanced against the need to try and reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption.
“And at the same time digital revolution of the sectors include smart grid and control systems” Alleem adds, “so one of the main projects of SEWA at present is a smart grid initiative.
“To accentuate the requirement for the need of innovation, SEWA has partnership agreements with globally recognised brands; for example, Siemens, ABB, GE, Rolls-Royce and IBM to open up the utilisation of smart technologies across various operations in the hope to enhance service delivery.”
Further innovations include the utilisation of electric vehicles, yet another example of SEWA going beyond continuous improvement to affirm its role as a customer satisfaction and experience enabler and as one of the best authentic organisations in the world.
“We fundamentally concentrate on three pillars: the economy, society, and environmental conditions,” Alleem concludes. “We feel that we are in the sustainability cycle since we contribute to the economy and we do add to protecting the environment by the use of solar panels and renewable methods.
“At SEWA we believe that our goals and priorities are very particular, realistic and actionable and this is what makes us extraordinary and achievable for every generation to come. We have a dedicated team focusing on quality and excellence which encourages the passionate pursuit of excellence and improvement through a formal system of benchmarking and assessment.”