With its hot climate and desert environment, the Arab region is more aware than many of the impacts of climate change.
With their limited natural resources and growing populations and levels of industrial development, countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have become enthusiastic supporters of initiatives to curtail carbon emissions.
Dubai was an early mover in the smart city movement.
Based on the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into “the happiest city on Earth”, Smart Dubai currently under way is a wide-ranging initiative focussed on building ‘smarts’ into the economy, living, governance, environment, people and mobility.
Building on Smart Dubai, the Dubai Plan 2021 aims for Dubai to become the world’s leading smart city by 2021.
Alongside this, the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 envisions Dubai becoming an international hub for clean energy and the green economy, with the lowest carbon footprint of any city worldwide.
Smart energy initiatives
The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy requires that 7% of Dubai's total power output should be provided from clean resources by 2020, increasing to 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050.
In support of the various strategies, the state utility Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has introduced three major initiatives.
Shams Dubai, launched in March 2015, aims to encourage home and building owners to install solar PV.
In November 2016, DEWA recorded 222 buildings with PV with a combined capacity of over 6MW completed under the initiative.
Among these is a 1.5MW installation at Jebel Ali power station comprising 5,240 PV panels on a 23,000m2 roof, making it among the largest rooftop arrays in the Middle East and North Africa.
Projects under way include what will the largest solar rooftop project in the region, involving the installation of 88,000 PV panels for the Dubai facilities of marine and inland terminal operator DP World.
The EV Green Charger project is aimed to build an infrastructure and network of electric vehicle charging stations.
DEWA opened the first charging station at its offices in February 2015 and by the end of that year had completed 100 charging stations. The number is now being doubled up to 200 stations across Dubai, with further development linked to growth in EV use.
To support EV growth, the Supreme Council has directed government organisations that at least 2% of their vehicle purchases must be hybrid or EVs from 2016 to 2020 and increasing to 10% from 2021 to 2030.
Internet of Things mesh canopy
The third of the initiatives, Smart Applications via Smart Grid and Meters, is focused on a nationwide rollout of smart electricity and water meters and smart grid technology and the provision of smart applications to realise benefits from these.
To support this initiative – and in turn the smart city drive – DEWA has contracted Silver Springs Networks to establish a communication platform based on its Internet of Things (IoT) IPv6 multi-application radio frequency mesh canopy.
The platform will cover the whole of Dubai, including the inland enclave of Hatta, and will allow DEWA to provide smart grid applications such as smart electricity, water meter and distribution automation.
“DEWA remains focused on following the directives of the UAE wise leadership to adopt the latest and most innovative technologies,” says HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA.
“The platform will give us a high-performance network to reliably deliver multiple electricity and water services to the people of Dubai. Also, we intend to ensure that this platform is completely scalable to easily deploy new services in the future.”
Al Taylor noted that DEWA’s AED7bn (US$2bn) smart grid covering generation, transmission and distribution systems includes demand side management, assets management, power stations and networks automation, systems integration and smart metering.
“With the heavy reliance on fossil fuels in the Middle East, two-way Internet of Things technology for energy applications could help ease this burden while furthering energy efficiency,” comments Ayse Ildeniz, Chief Operating Officer for Silver Spring Networks.
In the first phase, 200,000 smart meters were installed by January 2016 and the aim is to have over one million smart meters installed by 2020.