EASY EFFICIENCY

Ras Al Khaimah 2018 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Andrea Di Gregorio, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewables of the RAK Municipality Department, on the Emirate's overall strategy, specific programs, and early supporters of energy efficiency and renewables.

ndrea Di Gregorio,
BIOGRAPHY
Andrea Di Gregorio is tasked with increasing energy efficiency and the share of renewables in the generation mix of Ras Al Khaimah. He has more than 15 years of experience in the energy and utilities sector in Europe and the Middle East. Prior to joining his current position, Di Gregorio supported the activation of the Dubai Demand Side Management Strategy as a PMO Director at the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, and as a Director of Strategy and Continuous Improvement at TAQATI, Etihad Energy Services.

What are the main highlights of the new renewables and energy efficiency strategy?

We have agreed on a strategy that includes nine programs. The first program is green building regulations and addresses new construction in Ras Al Khaimah to raise the bar for new developments in terms of energy efficiency and adoption of renewable energy. The second is a building retrofit program that addresses existing buildings to make them more efficient and apply renewable energy where beneficial. The government will lead by example and other sectors are expected to follow. There is an energy management program addressing the industrial sector, which comprises 40-45% of the total consumption of Ras Al Khaimah, so that is crucial for us. The industrial sector started working on energy efficiency a long time ago, though there is always potential for improvement. Therefore, we are launching a program to improve best practices of energy management. There will also be a program for efficient home appliances in collaboration with Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology (ESMA), which introduces and periodically updates standards for appliances and equipment. The idea is for consumers to be more aware of the energy consumption of their appliances, and encourage the purchase of products with higher energy ratings. We are also working on street lighting, with a program to convert streetlights from conventional bulbs to the more efficient LED, and add dimming and controls where advantageous. We are also working on renewables, and solar is one of the programs in collaboration with Federal Electricity & Water Authority (FEWA). The program will support both on-site solar energy, such as rooftop installations for individual properties, and utility-scale projects. Another area of work is energy from waste, for which RAK Waste Management Agency is evaluating several pilot projects, including landfill gas recovery for electricity generation, alternative fuels, and others. Finally, we are evaluating the activation of an efficient vehicle program, supporting electric and possibly hybrid vehicles. Some of these programs are directly led by our office, while others are driven in partnership with other entities. We are in the process of finalizing our annual targets for each of these programs. Overall, we estimate potential savings of up to 30% by 2040 versus business-as-usual projections as a result of a combination of all the programs. We also envisage potential contribution from renewable energy of up to 25% of total consumption by 2040.

How difficult is it for industries to adopt energy efficiency methods and renewable energy?

The industrial sector was one of the earliest adopters of energy efficiency measures. Energy is an extremely important component of the total cost for industries such as cement and ceramics. The industries are among the first because they find an immediate and tangible benefit. In Ras Al Khaimah, for example, heat recovery is advanced, and reuse of water is also highly adopted. We want to promote best practices of energy management to ensure everyone conducts a correct energy audit and adopts practices in line with the best global standards, like ISO 50001.

How do developers feel about the green building regulation?

In terms of impact, the green building regulation is our most important program. Developers in the region are starting to realize the potential commercial value of building sustainable developments. We are willing to support them in this field with awareness systems that will reward those who adopt these building standards. We want to start with a pilot regulation in 2018 applicable to the government sector to start with, and then extend it to the private sector. This will be Phase I, and it will activate the initial market. For Phase II, which will be a few years later, the standards will be supported by a rating system, providing market recognition for developments which exceed minimum standards. In three to five years, we expect to see tangible outcomes from this program.