Electricity and water usage among UAE households has been growing significantly in the past few years and will be difficult to manage in the future if no effective sustainable measures are undertaken, analysts have warned.
A study by management consultancy Strategy&, formerly Booz & Company, showed that electricity consumption alone has more than doubled in the past 10 years, “at a pace that will be difficult to provide for over the long-term.”
The Company warned that, as the population expands substantially and the economy grows, power consumption will grow even more rapidly over the next five years. According to estimates, the UAE’s gross domestic electricity consumption will reach 141 terawatt-hours in 2020, up from 103 terawatt-hours in 2014.
Every resident in the UAE consumes about 740 cubic meters of water a year, which is approximately 50 percent higher than the world average of 500 cubic meters.
While the usage is very high, water production is also a costly process for the UAE considering that the amount of energy required to desalinate seawater stands at about 30 percent of the country’s total power consumption.
Overall, energy consumption in the UAE has been growing at an annual rate of four percent over the past six years. Analysts predicted that the growth rate will increase to five percent through 2020.
The need for implementing measures to address growing energy consumption levels has been highlighted by rapid urbanisation and population growth in UAE.
The number of residents living in the country’s city centres has been expanding over the years, with urban dwellers representing 85 percent of the country’s entire population. By 2015, the United Nations predicted that the figure will reach 91 percent.
“The UAE, therefore, needs to have integrated infrastructure planning as a pre-requisite to any urban master plan,” Strategy& said in a report. A great way of doing this is through the “smart city approach”, according to Strategy&.
“This term typically entails integrated infrastructure planning that applies digital technologies to deliver better services and, critically for the UAE, reduce energy consumption. Smart cities allow city planners and managers to improve efficiency at the intersection of different infrastructure sectors, such as electricity, water, transport, telecommunications, cooling and waste,” said Per-Ola Karlsson, a senior partner with Strategy&.
Karlsson said that through awareness programmes, for example, UAE residents can be encouraged to be mindful of their energy consumption.”One of the best examples of this is the launch of Emirates Energy Award by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, which offers monetary prizes for innovative work in projects of all sizes across both the public and private sectors.”