Power cut offers valuable lessons

Hundreds of residents in Sharjah’s Butainah area sweltered at the weekend

Sharjah residents were left without electricity from 11pm on Friday until 4.30am on Saturday. Pawan Singh / The National
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The power cut that affected hundreds of homes in Sharjah on Friday evening was caused by a technical error. Power cuts are bothersome and difficult to withstand for the old and the young alike, especially at night and especially at this time of year, when lighting and air-conditioning are essential. Perhaps even more so during the month of Ramadan. However, this is the first such incident in many years and massive steps have been taken to bring large-scale improvements to the power grid in the emirate since 2010.

While power cuts hit various areas of the emirate in 2010 and 2011, more recent summers have, until now, passed without major incident. The Sharjah Water and Electricity Authority increased network capacities in various parts of the city, in parallel with energy efficiency programmes, periodic and preventive maintenance to upgrade the grid’s performance.

The authority also implemented extensive development projects to upgrade the power grid. In 2015, power generators were replaced and electricity pylons removed in several neighbourhoods to replace overhead cables with underground cables. This rendered power lines less vulnerable to humidity and heat, and thus less susceptible to power cuts.

Coping with the needs of a population that nearly doubled in five years, from 2010 to 2015, was definitely a challenge. Urban development resulting from demographic growth throughout the emirate, in addition to the growth that accompanied developments in Sharjah’s economy, have now further increased demand. It will only go higher as the heat of the summer sets in.

Awareness campaigns have been carried out to inform consumers about factors that contribute to power failures. This is key to ensuring the grid is not crowded with old energy-sapping electronics. Sharing energy-saving methods with households could also contribute to alleviate the pressure, as Sharjah plans to reduce power consumption by 30 per cent by 2020.​