TBY talks to Ahmad Buti Al Muhairbi, Secretary General of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE), on the role of the Council, opportunities for foreign investors, and the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030.

HE Ahmad Buti Al Muhairbi
Ahmad Buti Al Muhairbi is the Secretary General of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DCSE). Al Muhairbi holds a BSc in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Texas. Prior to joining DCSE, he spent some 25 years in the oil and gas industry, working for ADNOC, ARCO Dubai, Margham Dubai Establishment, and Dubai Supply Authority. He is a Board Member of Dragon Oil Plc, and holds the Vice-Chairmanship of Dubai Regulatory & Supervisory Bureau for Electricity & Water.

What is the role of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE)?

The DSCE was formed under Law 19 of 2009, issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy is chaired by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, and HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer is Vice-Chairman. It was established as a governing body tasked with governance, policy development, and setting strategic direction for the energy sector to deliver several objectives, including the security of energy supply to sustain Dubai's growth, the diversification of fuel sources, the streamlining of functions in the energy sector in order to bolster efficiency and synergy, support for the green economy and sustainable development, and the development of a regulatory framework required to drive implementation and attract private investment in clean energy projects. We have developed a balanced approach to achieving these targets through the deployment of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 to deliver specific initiatives and projects. A roadmap has been defined, reflecting the priorities of energy supply and demand abatement measures. Today, we feel that a robust platform championed by the DSCE entities, including DEWA, DUBAL, ENOC, Dubai Petroleum Establishment, DUSUP, the Department of Petroleum Affairs, Dubai Municipality, and Dubai Nuclear Energy Committee, has been established to develop several strategic measures and projects in Dubai where energy efficiency, demand abatement, and sustainability are high on our agenda. These elements are vital to sustaining Dubai's competiveness and growth.

What are the biggest challenges?

I am a strong believer in how challenges can generate opportunities if we tackle them rationally and analyze the influencing factors. This is particularly proven when we look back at Dubai's exceptional development over the past 10 years. Dubai has always set the bar high when it comes to creativity in new ventures and projects, and has managed to deliver on its dynamic planning and development. The fundamental elements are planning and deployment mechanisms, which we have defined well in our roadmap and, as a matter of fact, we have already seen a positive impact in the early phases.

What are the opportunities for foreign companies to invest in this sector?

One of the key strategic mechanisms defined in our strategy is the funding mechanism for the projects and measures planned for the period leading up to 2030. We have planned some of our new projects to be funded through public-private partnership (PPP) and have developed a regulatory framework to attract international investment to Dubai. For example, the next phase of the solar project will be based on the PPP model for financing additional solar capacity at Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park. We have seen great interest from the technology and financing firms to partner with us on the execution of the planned projects, and shall continue to facilitate this mode of engagement. The Dubai Global Energy Forum (DGEF) 2013, held last April, was well attended by investment and technology firms, and we promoted Dubai's position on partnership to create a hub here for clean energy technologies and services.

How is the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 structured?

The Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 is based around four strategic themes. There are objectives, which work like mechanisms on how to achieve each pillar. There is one of governance and policy in order to govern the energy sector in Dubai, which is the ultimate objective of the DSCE. We are also looking at energy efficiency and demand-side reduction, as well as energy security and the cost of that energy. Being a net importer is risky and may come at a very high cost, especially when you talk about gas accounting for 99% of power generation today in Dubai. The cost of energy is very important and so is bringing in the financial mechanism that will actually encourage investment from international companies and technology providers. At the same time, we are looking to build national capacity. Dubai can do this in a number of ways. Building capacity means that we want to develop the knowledge here in Dubai, with renewables being an area that is only recently penetrating the market. It is also about how we can pick the right technology that works in our climate and conditions. We want to become a free zone where companies can develop and manufacture so we can promote the economic advantages of solar and other technologies. It is ambitious, but we have the elements to achieve this mission.