Dh2.5m boost for energy efficiency initiatives

The Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy handed out grants for improving energy efficiency.

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ABU DHABI // A philanthropic foundation has pledged grants worth Dh2.5 million to energy efficiency projects.

The Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy announced yesterday it would finance 17 initiatives that encourage community action, train Emiratis and inspire research into the field.

Ten of the grants will go to scientists researching energy efficient buildings, clean fuels and renewable energy.

One recipient is Professor Bassam Abu-Hijleh, the dean at the faculty of engineering and information technology at the British University in Dubai. Prof Abu-Hijleh said he would use the money to hire several Emirati research assistants to help him on a two-year study assessing the potential energy savings that could be achieved by refurbishing old buildings.

"Studies elsewhere have shown that you could save significant amounts of energy through refurbishments," Prof Abu-Hijleh said.

He said energy savings could range from 10 to 40 per cent, depending on the age of a building and the extent of refurbishment.

Another grant recipient is Dr Mohamed Gadalla, the associate professor at the department of mechanical engineering at the American University of Sharjah.

Dr Gadalla will evaluate the energy requirements of desalination plants and suggest ways to improve their efficiency.

"GCC countries, and especially the UAE, are using a lot of energy in desalination plants," he said.

Desalination plants rely on burning natural gas. Although that is much cleaner than burning oil or coal, the process still releases substantial amounts of greenhouse gases. "We need to see what other resources we can use to produce potable water," Dr Gadalla said.

The Emirates Foundation's energy efficiency competition was organised in partnership with Abu Dhabi Gas Industries and the oil company ExxonMobil.

The oil company estimates that in 2030, global energy demand will be 35 per cent higher than in 2005, said Morten Mauritzen, the president of ExxonMobil Affiliates in Abu Dhabi.

This is the second year the funding programme has run. The foundation has already evaluated 42 grant requests for next year.