Abu Dhabi, UAE: Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, the first edition of the World Utilities Congress convened global leaders and industry exports from the utilities sector for a second day in Abu Dhabi.
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, and is hosted by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) and organised by dmg events.
With the aim to support the mandate to address the acceleration to a sustainable future for the world’s power and water supply, the Strategic Conference programme has reflected the issues that CEOs and their leadership teams need to consider, as they modernise utilities to manage disruptive change and embed future-focused digital transformation strategies in response to evolving market and customer needs.
Day two’s conference highlight was the ministerial session titled ‘Balancing decarbonisation and energy security’ which was a key session that brought together global leaders to gain deeper insights into different decarbonisation pathways. Speakers included; His Royal Highness, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Minister of Energy Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and His Excellency Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, United Arab Emirates.
During the session, His Royal Highness, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Minister of Energy Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said: “The energy sector is suffering holistically from so many things, such as running out of capacity at all levels, be it upstream, downstream, in manufacturing, and supply chains. This causes disruptions in the supply chain, which is a phenomena that affects other sectors.”
Ensuring the sustainability of the energy system and the sustainability of worldwide economy is of great concern. In developing sustainable answers to the calling of future, these answers must be focused on three components - security supply, economic prosperity, and economic growth. We are driving sustainability in a world that is seeking environmental solutions, solutions that can deliver a cost effective and efficient energy system, which enables us to achieve our environmental cause.”
His Royal Highness added: “The world needs to work collectively, responsibly and comprehensively providing us with strategy for the world’s economy. Two things need our focus: supply chain issues and services issues, including energy. This is fundamentally why we are here today and it is the most profound two topics that we need to focus on.”
During the panel, His Excellency Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, United Arab Emirates remarked: “I can say with confidence that the energy transition is already happening. It is a journey that needs to be managed very wisely in order to avoid an adverse flip that can happen if the consumers and public will have to pay an excessive energy bill.
We need to continue investing in the cleaner conventional energy sources, to avoid an increase in price and the use of higher emission energy sources like coal. We must also continue our investment in R&D and piloting technologies to help reducing the cost of the green source and carbon capturing that should eventually become cost effective.
His Excellency added: “Hydrogen will also play an important role in enabling us to achieve the carbon neutrality, it is an enabler for the decarbonisation of many industries like steel, cement, particular petrochemical and many others. This is why UAE will continue to work on this critical subject in the aim to be a major producer and exporter of hydrogen in its different forms.”
Industry leaders came together to share insights during a Global Leadership Panel ‘Building the bridge to a carbon-free future through energy diversification’. Both government and industry participants discussed the energy transition and the increase in global electricity demand, and the need to reduce the carbon intensity of electricity production to enable a carbon-free future.
Participants included; His Excellency Yousif Al Ali, Assistant Undersecretary for Electricity, Water & Future Energy Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, UAE; Francesco La Camera, Director General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); Lorenzo Simonelli, Chairman, President and CEO, Baker Hughes; Branislav Strýček, CEO & Chairman of the Board, Slovenské Elektrárne;Renaud Capris, CEO, Enova; and Farid Al Awlaqi, Executive Director of Generation, TAQA.
During his participation in the Global Leadership Panel, Francesco La Camera, Director General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA(, stated: “What we can see is the energy transition is well in place and this is because renewables are now larger in the world and the cheapest way to produce electricity. Batteries and hydrogen are at a lower cost. There is a movement in the market for greener energy.”
“The transition to green energy is unstoppable. And it is important for governments to work together to make the grid capable to have renewables in the system. We must build a grid system that is flexible and balanced, which is in line with the Paris Agreement.”
In the same panel session, Farid Al Awlaqi, Executive Director of Generation from TAQA, said: “I think we have seen the generation sector undergo a massive transformation. We plan to continue developing utility scale projects that are in line with our strategy to be the recognised low carbon power and water champion, here at home and internationally.”
Mr. Al Awlaqi added: “We are on a journey of optimisation and decarbonisation. This isn’t just about developing large-scale projects, but at TAQA, we are also looking at enhancing our O&M capabilities and providing a comprehensive turnkey service of energy solutions that helps us, our partners and customers reach net zero."
The Strategic Conference featured ‘In the Spotlight’ sessions, which highlighted the importance of the role of nuclear energy in achieving net zero, with Sama Bilbao y Leon, Director General of the World Nuclear Association; and the role for hydrogen in the energy transition, and its potential to become a low carbon champion with Gareth Wynn, Chief Communications Officer, TAQA and Frederic Claux, Managing Director, Thermal and Supply, AMEA and Country Manager GCC & Pakistan, ENGIE.
The second day of World Utilities Congress also witnessed the ‘Nuclear Energy Leadership Forum’, which convened global industry professionals, 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. The forum saw important topics discussed such as ‘Securing ESG investments for a net zero economy,’ ‘The latest innovations and advances within the nuclear sector – what does the future hold? and ‘Attracting talent for the green energy transition’.
Christopher Hudson, President of dmg events, the organisers of the World Utilities Congress said, “We have seen a successful and insightful second day of the World Utilities Congress, we are thrilled with the high level turn out from leaders and industry experts in the UAE, and from around the world, who have offered their valuable insights and knowledge. This is truly an important event that is leading the way in defining the future of the global utilities industry, and sustaining the path towards net zero."
Hosted by TAQA, and organised by dmg events, the three-day exhibition and conference running until 11 May 2022 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, will gather 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. The Congress will also bring together over 200 industry expert speakers, over 1000 conference delegates, and host more than 50 strategic and technical conference sessions.