UAE: Day 2 of World Utilities Congress focuses on water, energy supply, affordability of resources

The event included high-level talks on water security, hydrogen economy, decarbonising cities, and more

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Published: Tue 9 May 2023, 8:29 PM

Last updated: Tue 9 May 2023, 10:25 PM

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the World Utilities Congress 2023 concluded its second day with high level discussions carving the sustainable future of power and water utilities.

The second edition of the World Utilities Congress 2023, hosted by the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), continued today with industry leaders, innovators, and policymakers from across the globe addressing the integral role power and water play in supporting decarbonisation of industry and the path to net-zero.

Day two’s strategic conference highlight was the ministerial session, titled ‘Geopolitics and water-energy security: assessing impact,’ where global leaders discussed how worldwide events shifting the energy supply and demand dynamics are affecting the reliability and affordability of supply. Water and energy security were in the spotlight with speakers who highlighted the latest innovations aimed at delivering sustainable energy and water supplies for the future.

Speakers included Eng. Awaidha Murshed Ali Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE); Walid Fayad, Minister of Energy and Water for Lebanon and Alberto Pimentel Mata, Minister of Energy and Mines for Guatemala.

Speaking during the session, Eng. Awaidha Murshed Ali Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE), said: “At the DoE, we aim to strike a balance between how much demand is truly a demand for the growth population and how we supply that considering the impact on the environment and costs. We have implemented an integrated energy model, which enables us to appropriately test any policy choice and monitor regulations.”

During the session titled ‘Pursuing energy security and sustainability in parallel,’ speakers discussed the critical priorities for balancing security and sustainability given evolving water and power supply dynamics.

Government and industry panellists included Linda Mabhena-Olagunju, Founder and CEO of DLO Energy Resources Group Pty Ltd. and Daniela Gentile - Ansaldo Green Tech CEO and Chief Innovation Officer at Ansaldo Energia.

During the panel, Daniela Gentile, Ansaldo Green Tech CEO and Chief Innovation Officer at Ansaldo Energia, said: “Call to action looking forward to COP28: Accelerate permitting is a call to action to policymakers. We can’t wait 10 years for clean energy infrastructure. Call to action to industries: to make feasible the energy transition, adjacent sectors need to cooperate to share the cost of Investment. Final call to action: in spite of different energy mix, social and economic priorities, countries have in common the room to improve energy efficiency, which can be the first clean fuel, making energy more affordable, secure and supporting the transition.”

Global energy leaders and city planners united at the global panel session, titled ‘Decarbonising cities,’ to address the critical role played by urban environments to facilitate the energy transition. With significant portions of global greenhouse emissions generated by cities, panellists addressed opportunities to offset the carbon impact during urban planning, through the integration of renewable energy, technological innovation, and the reduction of power and water demand.

Speakers included Sylvie Jéhanno, CEO of Dalkia, an EDF Group subsidiary; Khalid Al Qubaisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Energy Services (ADES); Khalid Abdulla Al Marzooqi, Tabreed's Chief Executive Officer; Renaud Capris, CEO of Enova; and Santiago Bañales López, Managing Director of Iberdrola Innovation Middle East.

Commenting on the low-carbon energy mix for the future of urban living, Sylvie Jehanno, Dalkia Group CEO, said, “At Dalkia, our main goal is to consume less and consume more efficiently by producing low-carbon energy and adopting sustainable solutions. Digitalization plays a key role, and we ensure to apply data management and connected solutions to achieve our goals.”

“There are three important points to consider; firstly is the implementation of innovative technologies that are more efficient and advanced. The second are policies and frameworks for each country that support an ambitious long-term target strategy or goal; the Middle East is an example with its net-zero target. The third pillar is skill refinement, decarbonizing cities creates many jobs, and there is a need for highly-qualified engineers, technicians, and young talents.” She added.

The overhaul of carbon-intensive grids alongside the expansion of renewable energy production and storage capacity was discussed at length at the Industry Dialogue session titled ‘No transition without transmission’. Participants on the panel explored the various challenges associated with enhancing transmission infrastructure and the role technology will play in realising heightened levels of operational efficiency.

Speakers included Omar Al Hashmi, Executive Director of Transmission & Distribution, TAQA, Ben Backwell, CEO of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), and Simon Morrish, CEO of xlinks.

During his participation on a global panel on the importance of upgrading power transmission infrastructure to support the transition to a clean energy future, Omar Al Hashmi, Executive Director, Transmission & Distribution, said: “Many estimates suggest electricity demand could more than double by 2050 to reach net-zero. We need to make sure we are prepared to meet that demand. In order to do this, we need to upgrade our grids, build more high-voltage transmission lines that can carry electricity long distances, and use those transmission lines to better connect regions and communities to one another.”

Mr. Al Hashmi added: “At TAQA, we understand our asset infrastructure is the literal pathway to a more sustainable future. It is through our transmission networks that we can help decarbonise the broader energy system, while also meeting the increase in consumer demand.”

The evolving nature of power-water interdependency was discussed on the panel titled ‘Dawn of a new era in the power-water nexus’. The session touched upon the impact water desalination plants have had on helping balance peak demand for power, along with the increasing importance of reverse osmosis. Panellists also discussed the impact that renewable energy sources have had on the relationship between power and water.

Speakers included Mohammed Berki Al-Zuabi, President and CEO of Marafiq; Jihad Mahamid, Secretary General of the Ministry of Water & Irrigation, Jordan; Robin Mills, CEO of Qamar Energy; Farid Al Awlaqi, Executive Director of Generation at TAQA; and Eng. Khadija Hasan Bin Braik, Technical Regulation Director, Abu Dhabi Department of Energy.

During his participation on the global panel discussing the Power-Water Nexus, Farid Al Awlaqi, Executive Director of Generation from TAQA, said: “Operating within one of the most water-scarce regions in the world, where water supply predominantly comes from desalination and demand continues to increase due to expanding populations and the needs of industry, innovations in sustainable water production will be critical for ensuring the Middle East’s future energy and water security as well as enabling decarbonisation of the sector.”

Mr. Al Awlaqi added: “As Abu Dhabi’s leading low-carbon power and water champion, TAQA is spearheading efforts for the widespread adoption of reverse osmosis within our desalination fleet, as well as decoupling freshwater production from power generation, which allows for the increased penetration of renewables and other more efficient power sources for water desalination.”

The growing role of hydrogen in the sustainable future of utilities was the focus of a Global Panel Discussion titled, ‘Hydrogen – Putting the pieces of the puzzle together.' Global leaders from the rapidly developing hydrogen economy discussed the potential, investment, and implications of adoption in powering utilities of the future.

Speakers included Roger Martella, Chief Sustainability Officer of General Electric (GE) Vernova; Ashwani Dudeja, Group President & Director (Green Hydrogen & Ammonia) of ACME Group; Gavin Rennick, President of SLB New Energy; Stephan Gobert, Senior Vice President of Hydrogen for Asia, Middle East, and Africa at ENGIE; and Alessandro Bresciani, Senior Vice President of Climate Technology Solutions at Baker Hughes.

During his participation in the panel, Gavin Rennick, President of SLB New Energy, said: "From a global technology company’s perspective, it’s crucial to focus on high impact use cases, embedded efficiency, and performance. At SLB we are working closely with high emissions industries including steel and ammonia to develop customised low carbon solutions. These industrial processes often lend themselves to, and will benefit greatly from hydrogen-based solutions.”

Christopher Hudson, President of dmg events, organisers of the World Utilities Congress, said, “Sustaining the path to net-zero continues to guide discussions and show highlights for the power and water industry on day two of the World Utilities Congress. This gathering of government stakeholders, global leaders and industry professionals has once again provided the biggest opportunity for the power and water industry to address challenges and explore solutions to deliver secure, sustainable, and affordable energy.”

Running from 8-10 May at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the World Utilities Congress features a Strategic Conference, Technical Conference and dedicated Nuclear Energy Forum that run in parallel over the three-day event. The congress welcomes energy ministers, over 10,000 industry professionals, 1,000 conference delegates, 250 expert speakers, and 150 exhibiting companies from across the entire utilities value chain.

Hosted by TAQA and organised by dmg events, the World Utilities Congress is supported by the UAE’s Ministry of Energy & Infrastructure, Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE), Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC).


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