Leading global leaders and industry specialists from the energy and infrastructure sector were out in force at the inaugural edition of the World Utilities Congress in Abu Dhabi today (May 9) where they discussed ways to meet rising power and water demands, while keeping on track with net-zero carbon goals.
Held under the patronage of Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, the event was inaugurated by Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure for the UAE, the first edition of the World Utilities Congress today.
The three-day exhibition and conference will run until May 11 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, gathering over 10,000 trade professionals and 120 exhibiting companies with the aim of promoting proactive measures to digitalise power and water systems, control emissions, and attract long-term capital investments, said the event organisers.
A first-of-its-kind event, the World Utilities Congress offers an unrivalled opportunity for the global power and water industry to converge and discuss trends, and explore technologies and innovations influencing future power and water demand, right here in Abu Dhabi and hosted by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), they stated.
The event will also bring together over 200 industry expert speakers, over 1000 conference delegates, and host more than 50 strategic and technical conference sessions.
Reflecting on the growth of the utilities sector during the opening ceremony, Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Energy said: "Over the past few years, we have noticed a rapid transformation in the water and electricity sector in Abu Dhabi, which is characterised by a trend towards increasing clean energy sources, renewable energy, developing smart electricity networks, energy efficiency and demand management programs, applying concepts of integrated resource management and technology use."
"Climate change issues are high on the agendas of governments, investors and companies, and it is clear that traditional strategies are insufficient to reach carbon neutrality. Even with improved energy efficiency and the introduction of massive amounts of renewable and clean energy, biofuels, batteries, and technologies carbon, there is a need for innovations and collaborations, which will enhance the use of digital solutions and artificial intelligence mechanisms, he stated on the opening day in the presence of global leaders and industry specialists.
During his keynote session, Taqa’s Group CEO and Managing Director Jasim Husain Thabet said: "Now, more than ever, there is a real demand from individuals, communities and governments to move towards a more sustainable way of life, combatting climate change and reducing CO2 emissions. And that is going to demand transformation on a grand scale. Collectively, we must work together to literally rewire the energy system."
Thabet said: "Utilities must work in lockstep with regulators, policymakers and investors to nurture an environment for public-private partnerships and bring in private sector equity to ensure we’re investing in the right infrastructure to accommodate demand while transitioning to a new energy system."
As part of Taqa’s commitment to supporting the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, the World Utilities Congress is powered by clean energy in partnership with the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (Ewec).
The Congress will receive Clean Energy Certificates, ensuring the event will only use clean energy guaranteed by EWEC.
On the partnership Ewec CEO Othman Al Ali said: "The World Utilities Congress is set to become an important global event, providing a platform for water and power leaders to provide insights on the rapid transformation taking place in the utilities sector to decarbonise water and electricity production. We are delighted to be the Clean Energy Partner with event hosts TAQA and organisers dmg events, where Ewec will provide Clean Energy Certificates, guaranteeing 100% carbon free electricity consumption for the Congress."
"This partnership showcases how utility sector companies are taking tangible action to reduce carbon emissions and lead the way in tackling climate change. We encourage companies and entities from all sectors looking to decarbonise to follow the example of TAQA and dmg events and enter the Clean Energy Certificates market, to advance sustainability and support the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative and UAE Energy Strategy 2050."Marking the start of the three-day exhibition and conference, the Congress kicked off with a series of high-level discussions at the strategic conference, supporting the mandate to address the acceleration to a sustainable future for the world’s power and water supply," he added.
Energy ministers came together to share insights during a Ministerial Panel Session ‘Building a solid foundation for a resilient and sustainable utilities sector,’ and discuss strategies they are using to futureproof their national water and power sectors, while also keeping to medium and long-term decarbonisation goals.
Participants included Parviz Shahbazov, Minister of Energy, Republic of Azerbaijan; Doskul Bekmurzaev, Minister of Energy, Kyrgyz Republic; Daler Juma, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Republic of Tajikistan and Tutuka Ariadji, Director General of Oil and Gas, Indonesia.
The second Ministerial Session focused on the latest developments in policies and regulations within the industry, entitled ‘Ensuring power and water security through policy, regulation and cooperation’, the session’s participants included; Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury Bir Bikram, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Affairs, Bangladesh; Abubakar D. Aliyu, Minster of Power, Nigeria; Soda Zhemu, Minister of Energy and Power Development, Zimbabwe; Yonis Ali Guedi, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Republic of Djibouti; and William Owuraku Aidoo, Deputy Minister of Energy, Ghana.
Attendees to the session were able to gain a deeper understanding on the clean energy and green initiatives across the countries, and the importance of utilising natural resources and collaboration in the pursuit of a sustainable future.
Panellists also shared insights into their countries’ ongoing projects, including a focus on reducing carbon footprints whist utilising hydrocarbons, as well as drew attention to the need for further partnership and synergy in energy grids.
A global leadership panel entitled ‘Meeting rising power and water demands, while keeping on track with net-zero carbon goals’ took place on the first day of the event.
The panel which focused on tactics and strategies for the successful decarbonisation of water and power markets, convened speakers including; Jasim Husain Thabet, Group CEO and Managing Director of TAQA; H.E. Mohamed Al Hammadi, Managing Director and CEO, ENEC; Jean-Bernard Lévy Chairman and CEO, EDF; Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar; and Said Mouline, Director General of Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency.
During the panel, Thabet said diversification is essential for the energy transition.
"In addition, we must balance decarbonisation objectives with ensuring energy security to provide a reliable supply of power and water. For Taqa, we are taking this into account in line with the UAE’s Net Zero strategic initiative by balancing new capacity from a mix of efficient gas-fired plants and renewables. There is no one solution, but together we can provide a sustainable way forward," he added.
The Strategic Conference continues over the next two days, with a Technical Conference running simultaneously, and sees discussions on innovation and technical solutions across entire utilities value chain including; power generation; transmission and distribution; water management; water sewage; district cooling; and customer engagement, and features 80 industry experts speaking at 20 sessions across the three days.
The Technical Conference provides multiple opportunities for industry professionals to meet face-to face with existing and new clients, gain insights on the latest technology trends and developments, and identify new market opportunities within the power and water industry.
The opening day also witnessed the kick off the ‘Nuclear Energy Leadership Forum’, which convenes global industry professionals for three days, to explore the deployment of safe, reliable nuclear energy generation, technological advancements in nuclear energy, and the latest in research and development of nuclear science and technology.
During his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Nuclear Energy Leadership Forum, Enec CEO and Managing Director Mohamed Al Hammadi, said: "Our leaders have consistently made clean energy a strategic priority, actively investing in clean energy technologies to deliver an energy mix that combines renewable, nuclear and clean energy sources to meet our economic and sustainability goals."
"The UAE nuclear energy programme is a global success story for climate action and new nuclear development. We illustrate what is possible when leadership, policy, technology, and international collaboration come together," he noted.
"The applications for nuclear technologies hold endless potential, and together we can find solutions to help our economies grow sustainably for decades to come," he added.-TradeArabia News Service