Demand for power in the UAE is growing at three times the global average, the Energy Minister said yesterday.
The need for power in the Emirates was growing at a rate of 9 per cent each year and would exceed to 40,000 megawatts by 2020, said Suhail Al Mazrouei.
The Energy Minister was speaking at the opening of the New Nuclear International conference in Abu Dhabi.
World energy demand was rising at around 3 per cent on average, he said, although this was balanced between rapidly increasing demand from emerging economies such as China and stabilising demand from developed nations.
The rapid industrialisation of the Arabian Gulf has led to a sharp rise in the demand for electricity as heavy power users, such as aluminium smelters, cement kilns and steel plants, come on line.
At the same time rapidly growing populations are also creating the need for more power stations to keep apartment blocks and malls cool in searing summer temperatures.
Mr Al Mazrouei’s comments were made yesterday to nuclear energy leaders from more than 40 countries at the conference hosted by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation at the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal.
A World Energy Council report last month predicted energy consumption in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) is expected to rise by as much as 114 per cent from 2010 to 2050.
The think tank Chatham House reports that the six GCC countries currently consume more primary energy than the whole of Africa despite the fact that their total population is just a 20th of the size of Africa’s.
“One of the key drivers of the surging power demand in the Mena region is due to rapid population growth,” said Anita Mathews, the director of Informa Energy Group. An increase in heavy industry in the region was also driving demand, she said.
“Others factors pushing up demand also include increasing urbanisation and lifestyle improvements that come with growing economic prosperity, further enhanced by the resurgent construction boom that has now returned to the region,” Ms Mathews added.
The surge is prompting governments in the region to invest heavily in energy production and its related infrastructure.
In 2008 the UAE launched its own nuclear energy programme, and the following year commissioned four nuclear reactors that are expected to start operations in 2017. Other Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, are following suit.
Yesterday the regional tracking database Meed announced that Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) and Saudi Aramco were the two biggest spenders on engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contracts in the Middle East over the 12 months to November as they pressed ahead with major infrastructure schemes.
Meed estimated the two Saudi companies between them handed out contracts worth US$19 billion over the year.
Saudi Electricity awarded 23 contract packages for projects that included the Jeddah South Thermal Power plant and the Shuqaiq Steam Power plant on the kingdom’s Red Sea coast.
Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company spent the third highest amount on EPC contracts over the year, Meed reported, awarding five contracts worth a total of $4.9bn for construction work at Das Island, Sarb and Umm Al Lulu oilfields.