SDG 7: AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY
Access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is crucial to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals – from poverty eradication via advancements in health, education, water supply and industrialization to mitigating climate change. Energy access, however, varies widely across countries and the current rate of progress falls short of what will be required to achieve the Goal. Redoubled efforts will be needed, particularly for countries with large energy access deficits and high energy consumption.
The UAE is endowed with plentiful of oil reserves however, it is not immune to the world’s energy challenges such as rising pollution, depletion of deposits and increases in energy demand. These threats require great innovation and the UAE has risen to the challenge. The UAE’s Vision 2021 has a formulated clean energy indicator developed since 2013. The UAE launched the Energy Strategy 2050 with a target of producing 50% of its energy requirements from clean sources. For instance, the Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program, which will begin
operation in 2019, will make a great contribution to diversify energy sources and support the UAE in its aim of reducing its carbon footprint.
• Shuaa is a web application to estimate potential electricity production and savings on electricity bill by installing solar panels. The second phase of the project was completed in 2017
• The UAE launched ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ in 2017, which is considered the first unified energy strategy in the country that is based on supply and demand.
• The overall awareness and uptake of renewable technologies on the distributed generation is still low. The deployment of renewable energy varies significantly between emirates
• The penetration of clean energy use in the transport sector remains low. New incentive packages have been launched by the local governments, which shall facilitate the electrification of the transport sector
• No incentives in place to share data with MOEI as the Ministry does not have a constitutional merit to collect data. The Ministry has developed a web platform system called ATMATA for more efficient energy data management and facilitating annual collection of data for the Ministry of Energy and Industry and its stakeholders
• UAE’s clean energy aims would require a flexible power system comprising dispatchable generation, storage, demand side management and grid interconnections. More research is required to ensure the power system can be stable under very high renewable energy penetration levels.
A new mobile edutainment application that aims to help children understand and engage with environmental sustainability has recently been launched by a pair of engineering students from Canadian University Dubai, in collaboration with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).
Pedram Parvaz, a member of the University’s innovation community, Lighten Up, along with his friend Bezhan Odinaev, came up with the idea for the game-based app, DEWA RUN, in response to last year’s DEWA App Master contest.
The competition called upon university students to develop a smart, entertaining application for seven-year-olds and older, to help instill environmental values and promote a culture of rational energy and water use, in a fun and engaging way. The pair went on to take fifth place in the competition, winning AED10,000 from DEWA to help further develop the app.
Pedram explained, “It was quite a challenge to create and develop a concept that was both educational and entertaining in just one month. The idea we came up with involves players helping to keep their city clean by running as fast as possible, collecting water drops and trash along the way, while dodging different obstacles. The aim is to teach children to conserve water and energy and to illustrate the impact this would have on our environment.”
After some fine-tuning with the support of the DEWA marketing team, the app was unveiled during last year’s GITEX Technology exhibition, and was officially launched to app stores for public download earlier this month.
Finding the time to develop the app was a challenge for Pedram, who also works alongside his studies, but he was determined to take part and contribute to the campaign. He revealed, “Bezhan and I could only work during the weekends; we would start a Skype call at 10am and before we knew it, it was dark outside and we were still working on something we started early in the morning.”
Nevertheless, it was a rewarding experience from which they both learnt a great deal. Pedram concluded, “I managed to learn the basics of the new Apple programming language, SWIFT. Aside from that, I believe the biggest achievement for me in this project was all the things I learned that are now helping me in my professional life – teamwork, being resourceful, time and project management to name a few.”
Pedram and Bezhan are now hoping that children across the UAE and beyond will be learning valuable lessons from their creation, and in turn, contributing to positive actions for environmental sustainability.
Dr Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves, world-renowned sustainability transitions consultant, researcher and author, has highlighted the need for UAE to adopt advanced integrated transportation and renewable energy solutions, as the country races to implement the ambitious Vision 2021 against the backdrop of being one of the fastest growing desert nations in the world.
Dr. Hargroves spoke on the sidelines of the first-ever ‘Executive Program on Sustainability, Innovation and Economic Growth in the Middle East’ hosted by Dubai Municipality’s Environmental Centre for Arab Towns (ECAT) and Canadian University Dubai, from September 18 to 22.
“We tailored this course to provide most innovative solutions in sustainability and profitable transition from fossil fuels to more advanced options. Integrated transportation is a key issue and so are waste management and water conservation. These topics are all inter-related. The UAE is one of the driest countries in the world, and 98.8% of its water comes from desalination plants, which uses natural gas, something that is not very environment-friendly. UAE’s Vision 2021 goals are highly commendable. Through this course, the participants got to share knowledge, get a better understanding of latest innovations, and come to grips with enablers and disablers in the process,” Dr. Hargroves said.
The unique course was designed to provide executives and senior government officials from the UAE/GCC. It was attended by 19 private sector and government executives, including those from Wasl Asset Management Group, Ministry Of Climate Change and Environment, Dubai Municipality, Dibba Municipality, Nablus Municipality, ECAT, Ducab, DEWA, Adma-Opco and State Audit Institution of Oman.
At the end of the program, the participants were presented with certificates by Mr. Hussain Abdulla Al Fardan, Director of Environmental Centre for Arab Towns (ECAT) and Mr. Karim Chelli, President of Canadian University Dubai.
Participants had very favourable comments on the methodology of the program. Russel Godfrey D’Souza, Manager, Real Estate and Sustainability, Dubai Golf (part of Wasl Asset Management Group) said: “As a sustainability student and practitioner, I found the program very informative. It was also highly relevant because I am in an industry that is linked to environment, and needs millions of gallon of water per day. It was a great opportunity to learn from renowned international experts whose books are listed among Cambridge Top 5 sustainability books. It was highly interactive and sowed seed of thought. The ideas we got will help us drive change in our organisation and the community at large.”
Saeed Ahmed Al Mowali from State Audit Institution of Oman said: “This course on sustainability has great relevance to GCC countries and offered very valuable tips on topics like waste management, and renewable energy. It will help us implement new advanced types of audit in my organisation. Many of the ideas presented by Dr. Charlie can be implemented in my country.”
Anuar Berahim, Corporate Training Manager at CUD, said the course was well received by the participants. The next step will be a series of detailed courses on the specific topics in December to provide greater detail targeted at middle management and staff.
The topics covered in the program included Introduction to Sustainability, Innovation, and Economic Growth in the Middle Eastern context; Profitable Transition to Low Carbon Energy, including Renewable energy generation and storage opportunities; Integrated Transportation and Land Use Planning; Integrated Waste and Resource Management; and Integrated Water Resource Management.
Dr Hargroves is a world renowned sustainability expert who has consulted to numerous state and national governments, including the Dubai RTA, and is a full member of the prestigious Club of Rome. He has co-authored 5 international books (currently selling over 85,000 copies in 5 languages), numerous chapters and papers, and delivered over 60 keynote presentations and guest lectures around the world.
Innovative communication at the centre of raising awareness among students
Five environmentally conscious youngsters have taken on the task of reducing energy consumption at the Canadian University Dubai.
The students are promoting energy saving lifestyles amongst the student and faculty bodies with the aim of reducing water and electricity use on campus this semester.
The scheme is part of the Conservation Award set up nine years ago by the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) as part of its strategic initiative to combat climate change. The Award is presented to academic institutions in Dubai for best practices in electricity and water consumption and usage.
Run in partnership with the Knowledge & Human Development Authority, the award aims to "promote and instill a culture of conservation amongst the learning community in nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and special needs centres'.
To improve the university's green credentials, the students have to convince the rest of the students, staff and faculty to get on board.
Key energy-saving messages have been designed by the five students who have developed new and fun ways of communicating old messages, such as switching off lights and turning off taps, to encourage good practices in as many people as possible.
"A lot of the advice on how to save energy has been heard before, so it's how you put those messages out there that makes an impact," said Shabbir Furniturewala, a student in the School of Communications. "We have been creating a number of videos because they are interactive and we know that students will take the time to watch them. They can also share them across social media, spreading the word amongst the student body and the wider community.
"We took the decision to keep them light and funny," he added. "Most environmental messages leave you feeling depressed. That won't help sharing and liking amongst the students as much as a light-hearted approach." The students used black and white silent movies as inspiration for a video dedicated to switching off lights. The video can be found on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/D40Guhh1P4o
The Art School has also be drafted in to the marketing drive, designing pop-art posters that communicate a key energy saving messages that raise awareness and call people to action.
"I am aiming to convince as many students as possible to make a positive change in their life and make a difference to the environment," said Environmental and Health Sciences student, Aliyah Salim.
"The DEWA Competition is great for raising awareness of what we can all do to make a difference to the environment and the eve the small things matter. However, we are not treating this like a competition. For some of us this is a life long commitment, not only to live as 'green' as we can, but to convince other people to do the same."
Guiding the team of students is university lecturer Ryan Sisson, who said: "It has been immensely gratifying to see the students working together and coming up with great ideas.
"The five students leading the campaign have done a great job of spreading the message through to the rest of the student body, through both messaging and the ongoing engagement of their peers in creative activities."
The last day for applications for the DEWA Conservation Award is April 14th 2014, with the winners announced at a special ceremony later in the year.