By Megha Merani
DUBAI, March 1 (TRPN) - Abu Dhabi is expected to roll out a new building retrofit programme spanning millions of square metres this year to reduce energy consumption in the Gulf emirate, the chief executive of an end-use energy consultancy said.
Per capita electricity consumption in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is amongst the highest in the world, fuelled by population growth, rising economic activity and high consumption rates encouraged by power subsidies.
"In Abu Dhabi, (the) Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC), is about to launch a very large retrofit program - we're talking about five million square metres of buildings will be retrofitted using the ESCO (energy services company) services," said Stephane le Gentil, CEO of Wattaqa, which advises the government and private sector on demand and consumption.
"The last time I spoke to them (ADDC) they told me they expect to launch the first project in the first half of this year so that should be coming very soon," Gentil told Zawya Projects in an interview on the sidelines of the Alleem Business Congress last month.
An energy retrofit primarily focuses on saving energy by upgrading or replacing inefficient equipment in a building.
Abu Dhabi, holder of most of the UAE's crude oil resources, has not run any retrofit programs so far.
The emirate has provided generous subsidies on utilities for years but the sharp drop in crude prices has forced it to rethink its tariffs and policies to be more sustainable.
Last year, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority announced a hike in electricity prices by 34 percent for UAE citizens and 27.6 percent for expatriates, which went into effect from 1 January 2017.
In 2013, the Dubai government set up Etihad ESCO under Dubai Electricity and Water Authority to reduce the consumption of electricity and water in 30,000 existing buildings in the emirate.
A study by Strategy &, formerly Booz & Company, in 2015 said that the UAE's gross domestic electricity consumption has more than doubled over the past 10 years and is expected to grow even more rapidly over the next five years as the country undergoes substantial population and economic growth.