Etihad Water & Electricity Company (EtihadWE) is a key supporter of the UAE's sustainability efforts and plays a vital role in supporting the fundamental pillars of sustainable development, specifically in the water and electricity sectors. Guided by the insightful vision of the wise leadership and within the framework of national strategies, programs, and action plans, EtihadWE aims to allocate and direct optimal and sustainable resources, while also considering the environmental aspect of sustainable development, including the gradual shift to clean and renewable energy sources and reducing carbon footprint. To achieve this, the company relies on the latest operating and production technologies and innovations, in line with the best global practices, to enhance the UAE's leading position in this field.
During an interview with “Alittihad”, Eng. Yousif Ahmed Al Ali, CEO of EtihadWE, highlighted the company’s significant strategic projects that were worked on or launched during the period from early 2022 until the end of the first quarter of 2023. These projects were implemented using the latest operating and production technologies, and have positively contributed to national targets, such as reducing carbon footprint. The projects include the "Naqaa" Desalination Plant, Al Khuraija Water Distribution Center, and the water network rehabilitation project in Al Nuaimiya area in Ajman. By undertaking these projects, EtihadWE continues to play its role in supporting the UAE's efforts to achieve sustainability, in line with the country's vision for a greener and more sustainable future.
Naqaa Desalination Plant
EtihadWE launched the "Naqaa" Desalination Plant project as part of the UAE's National Water Security Strategy that has been announced in 2017. The plant has a production capacity of 150 million gallons per day and is considered one of the most important strategic projects in achieving water security in the UAE. It contributes to sustaining freshwater supplies and reducing the water scarcity index.
One of the main declared objectives of establishing the plant was to meet the growing demand for water supplies in the northern regions of the country, supporting various consumption sectors and driving economic growth. Recognizing the crucial role of the private sector in contributing to the national economy through investments that help overcome challenges to achieving sustainable development, this huge project was implemented in partnership with this sector, through the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model, with an investment exceeding 2.2 billion dirhams.
The "Naqaa" plant utilizes innovative technologies to minimize energy consumption, such as the Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) technology, which plays an important role in optimizing the energy used by the pumps, as the pump output pressure and flow rates can be constantly matched to the varying requirements of the process. It also relies on Pressure Exchanger (PX) to convert the energy from rejected water (brine) into the feed water to reverse osmosis membranes. PX can reduce energy consumption of RO plant process up to 60%.
Al Khuraija Water Distribution Center
Al Khuraija Water Distribution Center is a crucial project that supports the National Water Security Strategy 2036. It was recently put into service at its full storage capacity, comprising 9 tanks with a capacity of around 180 million gallons, making it one of the largest strategic water storage centers in the UAE.
The project was designed with several considerations to ensure the quality of the center's outputs, environmental conservation, cost savings, and sector sustainability. For example, the center was located near the "Naqaa" desalination plant, which is the primary source for its tanks and in the northern regions of the UAE, representing the main areas for water consumption. Additionally, the center was constructed at an elevation of approximately 80 meters above sea level, facilitating water distribution through gravity rather than pumping.
Optimized construction methods were used to reduce energy consumption, soil degradation and air pollution, while landscaping works were implemented to act as carbon sink. Additional measures also included HVAC system, electronics ballast for lighting, and light pollution from the construction site was minimized by directing light sources inwards and downwards, preventing any light emission above the horizontal plane.
The Pump hall has been designed to incorporate sufficient natural daylight, thereby minimizing reliance on electrical lighting and reducing carbon emissions. The latest globally technologies were used to construct the center's tanks, including Slip Form technology and eco-friendly concrete casting, extending the tanks' lifespan and reducing maintenance requirements. Slip Form technology also eliminated the formation of expansion joints that occur when using traditional construction methods, reducing water leakage from the tank.
Due to the center's location on a geographically elevated area, natural flow resulting from gravity is used rather than pumping, an equivalent of 36 million kilowatts-hours of electrical energy per year was saved, amounting to more than 16 million dirhams annually. This resulted in reduced electricity consumption, cost savings, sustained resources, and fewer carbon emissions from electricity consumption in pumping systems.
Water Network Rehabilitation Project in Al Nuaimiya Area in Ajman
As part of its commitment to improving the water sector's infrastructure, efficiency, sustainability, and reliability, the company launched a project to replace the water network in Al Nuaimiya Area in Ajman. The project involved replacing 95 km of cement-asbestos pipes with only 77 km of high-density polyethylene pipes. By reducing the geographical area of the network and eliminating the leaks caused by the connections of the old asbestos pipes, the technical loss rate in the network was significantly reduced to only 6%, compared to 23% before the project's implementation.
In the conclusion of the interview, the CEO emphasized the company is currently conducting studies to identify the causes of technical losses in both water transmission and distribution networks. These studies aim to develop targeted programs and action plans to reduce technical losses in the network to a minimum by 2028.