Help wanted: UAE green scheme seeks sponsors

The team behind a Dubai energy-saving scheme designed to reduce about 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse emissions per year is looking for private sponsors to lift it off the ground.

DUBAI // An energy-saving scheme to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60,000 tonnes a year is looking for private sponsors to help to foot the bill.

The Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence aims to replace about 800,000 incandescent light bulbs with the more efficient and longer-lasting compact fluorescent lights by giving them free of charge to about 150,000 households.

Teams will go from house to house in the emirate and substitute 60-watt and 100-watt standard light bulbs with 11-watt and 23-watt CFLs, which the scheme's proponents say would not compromise on brightness or comfort for users.

The centre planned to recoup the Dh7.4 million cost through the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism, which issues documents called certified emission reduction units to the developers of green projects, who can then trade them, generating funds.

With prices in 2011 averaging US$10 (Dh37) per certified emission reduction unit, the team would not have needed outside help to launch the light bulb replacement project.

However, prices fell drastically last year, meaning US$5 a unit is "extremely optimistic", according to Ivano Iannelli, chief executive of the centre. The company is now turning to leading companies to help to foot the bill.

"We are looking for collaborators and are already in talks with several companies," said Mr Iannelli, who described the project as "one of our key activities for 2013".

Other countries, such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, Equador and Iran, have already carried out similar initiatives.

Mr Iannelli said that, along with two other projects, this was the first time Dubai would be taking advantage of opportunities offered by the UN scheme, also known by the abbreviation CDM.

CDM is part of the Kyoto Protocol, a agreement on climate under which industrialised countries in effect finance green projects in the developing world.

CDM projects undergo a stringent auditing process and need to meet strict criteria to qualify. Until a few years ago the process was difficult for local entities to take advantage of. Abu Dhabi, via clean energy company Masdar, and Ras Al Khaimah already have several CDM projects.

The Carbon Centre has also registered three other projects in the CDM scheme and, like the light bulb replacement one, two of them focus on energy efficiency measures.

"The projects are all registered and they are all under the final phases of implementation," said Mr Iannelli.

One of the projects involves an upgrade at Dubai Aluminium, which aims to make the primary production of aluminium more efficient, saving 9,762 tons of carbon emissions per year.

Aluminium production is an energy-intensive activity as the metal melts at temperatures well above 600 degrees Celsius. The Dubai plant is replacing three of its 27 melting furnaces with more efficient ones. The replacement of the current cold-burner systems with regenerative burner systems, which utilise the hot air released as gas is burned, will lead to a fuel consumption saving of 60 per cent.

The Carbon Centre has also collaborated with the Union Cement Company in Ras Al Khaimah to generate credits for a project that will prevent 59,361 tonnes of carbon emissions from being released in the atmosphere each year. Like aluminium production, cement manufacturing is energy-intensive. The United Nations says that for every 1,000 kilograms of cement produced, 900kg of emissions are released into the atmosphere.

Union Cement Company will capture the waste heat generated from one of its four clinker lines. A major ingredient of cement, clinker is produced by grinding rock and mixing it at very high temperatures. The waste heat will be used to produce water steam and thus power an electric turbine, generating electricity. An estimated 82,086 megawatt hours of electricity per year will be generated at the plant.

"In the short term, there is a lot more we can achieve with targeting efficiency," said Mr Iannelli. Compared with renewable energy schemes, efficiency projects offer larger emissions savings at a smaller cost, he said.

The centre has also partnered with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority to obtain CDM certification for the 10-megawatt solar power plant planned to come online in October. The plant in Seih Al Dahal, 30 kilometres south-east of Dubai, is expected to generate annual carbon savings of 12,765 tonnes a year.