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How DEWA is working towards ensuring water security in Dubai

  • How DEWA is working towards ensuring water security in Dubai

About the entity

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)
DEWA uses the latest technologies in water production, transmission, distribution, as well as control of water networks. This has contributed to several successes and achievements, making it one of the best utilities in the world.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is keen to ensure the security and sustainability of water in Dubai. This is in line with DEWA’s commitment to this national priority and to realise the 6th Goal of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’. DEWA is committed to creating a positive impact that ensures the sustainability of resources and a brighter future for current and future generations. This is especially important in light of the increasing global water crisis.

In keeping with the unprecedented economic growth in Dubai, the significant growth in population, and the steady increase in demand for water, DEWA is building water production plants based on Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) technology. These plants require less energy than Multi-Stage Flash distillation (MSF) plants, making them a more sustainable choice for water desalination. By 2030, DEWA aims to produce 100% of desalinated water using clean energy and waste heat. DEWA’s total production capacity has reached 490 Million Imperial Gallons per Day (MIGD) of desalinated water, including 63 MIGD using Reverse Osmosis (RO).

“DEWA is guided by the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to enhance water supplies in Dubai from sustainable sources and achieve the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050 to provide 100% of Dubai’s total power capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. DEWA has a comprehensive approach to ensure the sustainability of water resources in line with the Dubai Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy 2030, which focuses on enhancing water resources and using cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.

“DEWA adopts three pillars to ensure the sustainability of water production. These are based on using clean solar power to desalinate seawater using Reverse Osmosis (RO) technologies, which use less energy than MSF plants. Excess water is stored in aquifers and pumped back into the water network when needed. This innovative integrated model protects the environment and is a sustainable economic solution. It also emphasises Dubai’s ability to anticipate and shape the future. We ensure the continuation of 100% availability of DEWA’s services according to the world’s highest levels of availability, reliability, efficiency, and sustainability thanks to our state-of-the-art infrastructure. DEWA relies on innovation, the latest tools to anticipate the future, sound scientific planning, and seamless, swift, and effective operation of the smart grid. DEWA has achieved competitive results that surpass prominent European and American companies in terms of efficiency and reliability. In 2022, water network losses were reduced to 4.5% compared to around 15% in North America,” added Al Tayer.

Water reservoirs

The water reservoirs we are building help increase the water flow and raise the volume of the Emirate’s water reserve to meet the growing demand and increase the efficiency and reliability of water networks to support the sustainable development of Dubai. The storage capacity is currently 882 MIG. The water reservoir in the Lusaily area in Dubai has a storage capacity of 60 million imperial gallons (MIG), alongside the existing one, which stores 120 MIG of desalinated water. DEWA is working on three other reservoir projects in Nakhali, Hassyan and Hatta. With the completion of these projects, the storage capacity will increase to 1,152 MIG of desalinated water.

The World’s Largest Solar Energy-Powered Desalination Plant

DEWA’s Hassyan desalination project based on the Independent Water Producer (IWP) model is the largest of its kind in the world for water production based on Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) technology using solar energy. It is DEWA’s first IWP model project. The 180 Million Imperial Gallon per Day (MIGD) Sea Water Reverse Osmosis project has an investment of AED 3.357 billion (USD 914 million). Its capacity will increase to 670 MIGD in 2027 with the completion of this project.

The Largest Single-Site Water Desalination Facility in the World

DEWA’s Jebel Ali Power and Desalination Complex is the largest single-site water desalination facility in the world, with a production capacity of 490 MIGD, which is equivalent to 2,227,587 cubic metres per day.

SCADA systems

In 2023, DEWA launched its third phase of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Centre for both water transmission and distribution at Al Ruwaiyah BMC building. This is part of its efforts to achieve digital transformation using state-of-the-art operational technology, which includes real-time hydraulic modelling, training simulation system and advance reporting tools. This enables it to monitor the water network in Dubai remotely around the clock, including the water transmission pipelines, pumping stations and reservoirs sprawling over 3,000 kilometres. This has been achieved by installing over 10,000 smart devices. DEWA is currently implementing the District Metering Areas (DMA) at the distribution level and regularly expanding the transmission network and key distribution assets.

Smart Grid Strategy

The Smart Grid that DEWA is implementing, with total investments of AED 7 billion, is an integral part of DEWA’s strategy to develop state-of-the-art infrastructure for managing facilities and services according to smart and integrated systems using disruptive technologies and Fourth Industrial Revolution applications. These include AI, drones, blockchain technology, Internet of Things (IoT), and more. The Smart Grid is among the key success factors of smart cities, as it ensures the seamlessness and availability of round-the-clock integrated and connected services.

The Smart Grid ensures two-way communication between the utility and the customer and allows monitoring of various components of the electricity and water networks. The Smart Grid will provide advanced features, including automated decision-making and interoperability across the entire electricity and water network to ensure smooth, quick, and effective functioning.

DEWA’s Smart Grid Strategy 2021 – 2035 includes six main themes: Foundational Capabilities; Grid Automation; Smart Energy Solutions and Green Mobility; Smart Water; Smart Grid Artificial Intelligence; and Innovative Value-Added Services.

Smart meters

Smart meters are the backbone of the smart grid, and one of the pillars of DEWA’s digital transformation. They raise operational efficiency and reduce losses. All active traditional meters for electricity and water in Dubai have been converted into smart meters. Smart meters provide many advantages for customers to control their consumption proactively and digitally without contacting DEWA. DEWA’s Smart Meters Analysis and Diagnosis Centre monitors the smart meters remotely every 15 minutes.

Leading programmes and initiatives

As part of the smart grid strategy, DEWA has launched several pioneering programmes and initiatives, including the Smart Grid Data Governance Platform, to ensure compliance with all data policies and procedures. This ensures best practices in accountability, decision-making structure, data management and stewardship. The Smart Grid Data Governance platform manages data as an asset, and defines and approves data strategies, policies, standards, procedures and metrics.

Among the programmes launched by DEWA under the umbrella of the smart grid is an Automatic Smart Grid Restoration System (ASGR), the first of its kind in the MENA region, to increase the control, management, and monitoring of its power network. The system works around the clock without any human intervention. It uses a smart, innovative, and central system that locates the fault in the power network, isolates it, and automatically restores the service. This improves grid automation, fault detection and retrieval of connections.

In 2022, DEWA launched the Big Data and Analytics platform to integrate smart grid applications and operational technologies, among others. This enables the processing of large amounts of data and provides fact-based analytics and forecasting for current and future projects. The platform contributes to improving the operations and management of assets and smart meters, thus improving the experience of stakeholders and enhancing their happiness.

The ‘High-Water Usage Alert’ service, supported by the smart grid detects any leaks in the water connections after the meter. The smart meter system sends instant notifications to customers if the smart meter system detects any unusual increase in consumption, so that they can quickly repair the internal connections, or any leaks in the water connections with the help of a specialised technician, and perform the necessary maintenance work to reduce waste.

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