Tag Archive | "carbon emissions"

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer inaugurates ‘Power to Cloud’ event

HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) inaugurated the ‘Power to Cloud’ conference and exhibition organised by Schneider Electric in Dubai. The conference showcased the future of smart cities, ways to implement best international practices to manage energy consumption, ambitious plans to fulfil growing energy requirements, and the concept of green cities for a better future.

Al Tayer said: “The two-day conference and exhibition held under the theme ‘Building Next Generation Mission-Critical IT Infrastructure,’ and other such initiatives, are important for us to exchange expertise, experiences, and information. It also helps the process of developing the necessary technology required for the transition to smart grids, and accelerating the construction of smart cities.

“The initiative aims to establish Dubai as a smart city by developing Smart Grids that enhance the performance of utility providers, upgrade the services provided and ensure that supplies and services contribute to environmental protection and reduced carbon emissions.

“DEWA has set its strategy and roadmap for smart power and water grids, totalling AED 7 billion to support the efficient and reliable infrastructure of communication to support the Demand Side Management programme and connect to sources of renewable energy. DEWA also has proceeded with the smart meters project, and plans to install 72,000 smart meters per year for new connections. It is expected that the existing mechanical and electromechanical meters will be completely replaced by smart meters within the next five years at a rate of 250,000 electricity and water meters per year in the residential, industrial, and commercial sectors. The use of smart meters is a key element of building a smart network, and DEWA is a leading organisation in adopting the latest technologies, such as SCADA systems, control systems, protection and smart systems, to achieve the highest possible standards of efficiency, and reliability.”

 

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Sustainability on the rise in the UAE

Dr Michael Krämer, Senior Associate and Energy Specialist at international law firm Taylor Wessing, Dubai, outlines where he sees opportunities for the solar sector in the UAE

It is no secret that Dubai has put forward a bid to host the Expo 2020 and this is good news in any case. The vote takes place on November 27 and if Dubai wins it will have a dramatic effect on the country and once again focus attention on the emirate. It’s interesting how Dubai has sought to differentiate itself from its competitors Yekaterinburg in Russia, Izmir in Turkey and Sao Paulo in Brazil. A key focus of the Dubai 2020 bid has been sustainability.
Fifty percent of all energy needs for the Expo site (south of the city around Jebel Ali) will be generated on-site from renewable sources. In addition, a substantial amount of recycled materials will be used for the construction, while waste water will be recycled and reused as well.
Dubai’s Expo related efforts are just one element of a general trend towards a more sustainable lifestyle in the UAE, however. Let us not forget, the UAE is still one of the biggest carbon emitters globally, so this new trend is very welcome indeed.
Both, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) are currently looking more closely into encouraging commercial enterprises and residents to install solar plants on the roofs of their facilities and homes. At present, energy generated from comparatively small solar plants is still more expensive than the (highly subsidised) power supply from the public grid. Hence, both DEWA and ADWEA are looking into offering schemes that will aim to bridge the gap between conventional energy supply and self-generated solar energy. It is not yet clear how these incentive schemes will look like in the end, but it seems safe to assume that private investments into solar energy generation will become an interesting proposition.
The beauty of the utilities creating incentives for private solar investments is manifold. Not only will it be possible for those who are interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle to supplement their energy requirements with clean energy. It will also have an overall learning effect since energy generation will become more visible.
At present, electricity is just something that is a) produced somewhere far away with nobody really having an interest where electricity is coming from and b) cheap, so c) electricity is not really on anybody’s mind. An unwanted side effect of this is that we tend to waste anything we do not have any relationship with which, in turn, is a major reason for the fact that carbon emissions in the UAE are so high.
This will change if electricity becomes more tangible. A positive side effect of people generating their own energy is that these people tend to become much more conscious of what it takes to produce the energy we tend to take for granted. In the medium term, this will encourage people to take a more responsible approach towards energy usage. There is a large gap between using energy irresponsibly and being a treehugger. Yet, there is no need to transform the UAE population into treehuggers (which would be difficult anyway, given that there are probably more people than trees in this country), but people using their minds when using energy would be a fair start indeed.
We are, no doubt, just at the beginning of a process of transformation of the UAE into a country that supports a more sustainable approach to its environment. The wheels are in motion, however, and are slowly picking up speed. As with so many other things before, the UAE is spearheading this move in the region and we have the chance to be part of it. History unfolding. Good news for the region.

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Emission controller

Ben Churchill is managing director of Emrill, the award-winning facilities management company that counts Masdar City among its clients. He tells BGreen how his company is helping hundreds of building owners reduce carbon emissions… and save millions of dollars. Interview by Gary Wright

We’re at the Westin Hotel in Dubai and Ben Churchill takes to the stage and confesses to the assembled conference “I’m addicted to carbon”. With a wry smile the Englishman reveals more of his addiction: his love of plastic bags… and all things great about 21st century living. Then he admits to the audience that the birth of his son made him reflect on the way we devour the planet’s resources. But he’s not preaching and he is certainly no green militant: he is very clear that practicing sustainability, with its enormous cost savings, simply brings green benefits.
He said: “This is not about saving the planet or polar bears – well it is – but people are driven by saving money.”
And with that Churchill takes the assembly at the Sustainability Cooling Conference, held last month, through the huge strides with his leadership company Emrill is making in the facilities management, saving millions of dirhams for owners and slashing carbon emissions too. He explains that buildings are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector.

I had met Churchill for the first time just two hours before his presentation to the conference. He is managing director of Emrill, which last year saw its revenues grow by 47% and this year saw it named FM green company of the year – as well as overall winner.

“Sustainability at Emrill is wide ranging,” he explains. “It’s about the culture of the company and it starts with our staff. “Emrill has over 5,000 employees across the UAE where it looks after more than 1,000 buildings – with around 30,000 customers.”
He said: “In our business many of the staff involved in face-to-face meetings with customers are the concierges and the security guards. Emrill seeks to set up an environment which allows them to do the very best that they can do.
“We try to give them autonomy and the opportunity to grow and develop. We invest in our staff, we allow people to flourish. “Everybody wants to do a good job and staff perform better if it’s a nice place to work.”
He refers to the international accreditation standards to which Emrill subscribes and its H&S policies like the UK.
“It’s not philanthropic – it’s good business and yields results.” Churchill is no textbook manager either and notes business is far more complex than many management gurus would have you believe (“more like a living organism”).
He quotes Peter Drucker, often considered the inventor and father of modern management: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
Emrill Energy, launched two years ago, has pioneered energy saving in building management and there are some impressive figures that I suggest should make securing new business straightforward. For example 34% of the world’s carbon emissions can be directly related to the buildings in which live and work, says Churchill, who adds “it’s probably closer to 40%”. With the addition intelligent system controls such as variable speed drives on pumps, movement sensors in rooms to control lighting and air-conditioning and to sense the numbers of people in a room along with LED lighting, a building is well on the way to slashing energy bills between 35 and 40% per year. He then talks about BMS – the building management systems – that runs everything from lighting to air-conditioning temperature and hot and cold water supplies.
“Did you know that only 8% of BMS systems are commissioned correctly?” asks Churchill, “that is a bit like saying that 92% of the world’s buildings have their brains turned off.
“If we as an industry can save 35% of the 34% that buildings contribute to global carbon emissions, then we can make a large difference.”
Then he reveals the big benefit to clients: “Energy consumption of a building is around double the cost of facility management.”
He lets you think about that and then explains that Emrill will assess the consumption, show where savings can be made – from the LED lighting to smart air-conditioning systems – then offset that against the cost of the FM.
“A client might chose to pay for all the changes. Then move forward with a far more economic building, or we can arrange the finance for them – again paid for by the savings and we will tell them how long it will take – or any combination.”
When Churchill presents this simple explanation I genuinely believe that this is a perfect business model but he assures me that not everyone believes it can be that simple and some still take more convincing.
It becomes clear that Emrill’s strategy has no real pitfalls and is, as he says, “not about save the planet, but to save money”. The huge reduction in carbon emissions is simply a useful side effect.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi divide Emrill’s business. Around one-third is in Abu Dhabi where Etihad is among its FM customers and, at the time of interview, Emrill further enforced its green credentials after landing the FM contract for Masdar City – the world’s biggest sustainable city project.
Emrill’s PR chief initially asked BGreen not to reveal it had landed the contract but within an hour Churchill was on stage at the cooling conference revealing it to delegates as part of his presentation: Energy in FM, optimising building efficiency. Emrill’s specialist knowledge and experience with solar panels placed it in an extremely strong position when tendering for Masdar City’s contract.
Churchill explains that Emrill set out at the beginning of last year to find a partner with whom it could work on its energy strategy, which would think holistically about the problem of emissions from buildings. It found Crowley Carbon, an Irish company with a broad spectrum energy knowledge and in November 2012 Emrill Energy was launched by explaining “Our industry is the biggest contributor to climate change”.
At the launch of the new wing to Emrill, Churchill said the that UAE ranked third in the world when it comes to energy consumption per capita per head in 2011, following Qatar and Trinidad & Tobago, and stated that it was time to be “slightly concerned” about the figure.
At the time Crowley Carbon chairman Norman Crowley said: “The goal of this joint venture is to make Dubai buildings the most efficient in the world.” And that is what Emrill has aimed to achieve since.
The interview is drawing to a close and Churchill is due on stage at the Westin for the presentation. As we leave the almost deserted restaurant he asks me whether I feel cold and I admit I do.
“That should never happen in Dubai,” he says. “And yet you find it in many places. The air conditioning is set for a roomful of people. A simple sensor would solve it – and save energy costs.”

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Acid attack

New research in the waters of the Arctic reveals a growing threat unique to the cold ocean which helps protect the planet by absorbing milions of tonnes of CO2 but suffers increased acidity as a result.

Acidity is rapidly increasing in the waters of the Arctic region and poses a huge risk to the survival of marine animals. Acidity has a major effect on the rates at which corals and rocks grow or are dissolved. “A remarkable 20% of the Canadian Basin has become more corrosive to carbonate minerals in an unprecedented short period of time,” said US Geological Survey oceanographer, Lisa Robbins. “Nowhere on Earth have we documented such large scale, rapid ocean acidification.” CO2 emissions increase the acidity of the sea if it absorbs too much and that affect decreases calcification rates in many organisms. Calcifying is an important part of growth to marine organisms as it helps to build shells and skeletons.

If reduced, the organisms are most likely to dissolve into extinction. Corals, shrimps and plankton, among other marine creatures, are severely affected by this change. Any threat to them causes potential imbalance in the whole ocean food chain and the consequences are potentially devastating. “In the Arctic, where multi-year sea ice has been receding, we see that the dilution of seawater with melted sea ice adding fuel to the fire of ocean acidification,” according to co-author, and co-project chief, Jonathan Wynn, a geologist from the University of the South Florida. “Not only is the ice cover removed leaving the surface water exposed to man-made CO2, the surface layer of frigid waters is now fresher, and this means less calcium and carbonate ions are available for organisms.”

CO2 emissions can reach the deep seawater especially in the summers when sea ice in the Arctic declines. The freshwater melted from sea ice dilutes the seawater, further increasing acidity levels and reducing the concentrations of calcium and carbonate, which are the constituents of the mineral aragonite. Aragonite is one of the main minerals which make up the hard part of many marine microorganisms’ skeletons and shells. Species depending on these organisms for food are vastly affected by the reduction of calcium and carbonate concentrations. Ocean acidification models show that with increasing atmospheric CO2, the Arctic Ocean will have crucially low concentrations of dissolved carbonate minerals, like aragonite, in the next decade. Researchers were able to investigate seawater chemistry at high spatial resolution during three years of research cruises in the Arctic, alongside joint US-Canada research efforts aimed at mapping the seafloor as part of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf programme.
Research shows that acidification in surface waters of the Arctic Ocean is rapidly expanding into areas that were previously isolated from contact with the atmosphere because they were covered with thick ice. Compared with other oceans, the Arctic Ocean has not had the same research attention. “It’s a beautiful but challenging place to work,” said Robert Byrne, a USF marine chemist. Using new automated instruments, scientists were able to make 34,000 waterchemistry measurements from the US Coast Guard icebreaker. “This unusually large data set, in combination with earlier studies, not only documents remarkable changes in Arctic seawater chemistry but also provides a much-needed baseline against which future measurements can be compared.” Byrne credits scientists and engineers at the USF college of Marine Science with developing much of the new technology.”

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Beyond badges

Recognising private sector players in a nationwide move to reduce the UAE’s carbon footprint, Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF) named five organisations as leading members of their Corporate Heroes programme. 

Year on year, the UAE has topped the global list of countries with the highest ecological footprint, despite nationwide commitments towards green growth. While the public sector has been setting the trend for sustainable operations, 30% of UAE’s notoriously high ecological footprint is solely produced by indiscriminate energy and water consumption in the private sector.

Solutions
The causative relationship between the energy and water utilisation, carbon emissions and climate change has been established, providing a clear strategy in reducing the environmental impact of consumption. Getting the private sector on board has been the cornerstone of Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF’s Heroes of the UAE programme, designed to encourage all sectors of society to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Corporate Heroes programme focuses on the private sector re-evaluating operational strategies in consumption, employee engagement, and environmental foresight. Appealing to the sector, the programme highlights the related financial returns resulting in smart consumption. Reducing energy and water consumption lowers occupational costs and prepares businesses to address future increases in utility rates. Savings can be re-invested in other parts of the company to advance corporate interests.
The programme was launched in 2010 by EWS-WWF, in partnership with the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) and endorsement from the Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW). It is the only national voluntary carbon reduction programme verified by a third party. The programme offers guidance, an online toolkit, and reporting frameworks to enable organisations to make
this transition, as well as share their best practices and challenges through case studies that document their environmental journey.
“The UAE has a high ecological footprint per capita and business and industries are responsible for contributing almost a third of this. This was in fact what prompted EWS-WWF to develop Heroes of the UAE Private Sector programme,” explains Ida Tillisch, Acting Director General of EWS-WWF.
“Our role is to create a platform for organisations wanting to take action can find the expertise tools and support to do so. At the same time, we are gathering lessons learnt from the corporate heroes network, and these help us understand local barriers to large scale energy and water conservation to help break these obstacles down.”
Recognised for successfully fulfilling three pledges required by the programme, which resulted in each organisation lowering its carbon emissions from energy and water by at least 10%, five organisations were acknowledged as ‘verified’ heroes, after being technically reviewed by Ernst & Young.
By implementing technical and behavioural changes such as installing fittings that reduce water flow, maintaining and upgrading air conditioning and ventilation systems, introducing LED lighting and reducing lighting and AC usage, these organisations achieved savings between 28% to 89% in water consumption and 11 to 55% in energy consumption over 12 continuous months.
American University of Sharjah, Archcorp, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Service City and TECOM topped the list, paving the way for others to reduce their energy and water consumption in the near future.

The green economy
“Many governments around the world are trying to make sense of what green economy means to them. By positioning ourselves as a world leader, we can turn green growth to an opportunity to export our learning, experiences and technology,” according to Her Excellency Razan Khalifa al Mubarak, Secretary General of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. “It is very important to understand what are the challenges the private sector faces so that we can scale up government-led initiatives. This is why the Environment Agency is personally committed to this initiative. To achieve the UAE’s green economy as well as the Abu Dhabi Environment vision 2030, all sectors have to play their part. As a government entity, we are taking this challenge quite seriously, and have initiated many projects to encourage resource efficiency, to diversify the energy mix, and to ensure the resources we do use have minimal environmental impact,” she adds.
Tillisch explains that since the majority of the UAE’s ecological footprint is due to carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change, nipping this burgeoning problem in the bud is the only logical way forward. “It is crucial that we all make the necessary efforts to lower our carbon emissions. The opportunities are here, we just need to take them.”

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Living green competition

To enhance awareness on Sustainable Development, DEWA recognizes the winners of ‘Living Green’ on Twitter.

Reaching out at a community level, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) recently announced the winners of their Living Green competition on Twitter. The competition containing questions on environmental issues was a strategy to promote awareness within Dubai about the importance of sustainable development, preserving natural resources, and protecting the environment. It also coincided with the launch of its sustainable building at Al Quoz which is said to be the first public sector sustainable building in the world.

DEWA has also launched its Do You Know campaign which is a series of daily tweets to provide useful information and tips on water and electricity conservation, minimising carbon emissions, curb global warming and preserve natural resources.

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