Khawla Al Mehairi, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and Board Member at Dubai Women Establishment, is participating in the 11th Women’s Forum in Deauville, France, from 14-16 October 2015.
Al Mehairi is part of the UAE delegation, which includes female leaders from the public and private sectors in the UAE. The UAE’s participation, under the directives of HH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of UAE Gender Balance Council President of Dubai Women Establishment and wife of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, underlines the UAE’s significant achievements in supporting and enabling women locally and regionally.
Over the three days, the Forum will discuss a number of key topics related to promoting women’s roles and enabling them to take part in shaping the future, facilitating interaction, and sharing of expertise and experience across different areas including business, education, science, culture, and energy.
Al Mehairi took part in a discussion panel titled Innovators for Clean Energy, which was moderated by Nina Gardner, Director of Strategy International, and Member of the Women’s Forum Programme Committee. Other participants were Enass Abo-Hamed, Founder and CSO of H2GO Power, Tom Miller, Principal at Cambridge Energy Partners, and Sophie Yule, General Counsel at Tempus Energy. Al Mehairi emphasised on the importance of innovation in the energy sector, particularly in renewable and clean energy.
“Energy is an integral part of the social and economic development of all countries. Despite its importance, energy accounts for around 60% of total global greenhouse emissions, according to international reports. This necessitates our dependence on clean energy. This will only be achieved by adopting innovation and continuous research and development to ensure the transformation towards a green economy and achieve sustainable development.
The UAE adopts an innovative approach to managing the energy sector, particularly renewable energy, to overcome energy challenges such as growing demand to meet development requirements, climate change, and other factors that have an impact on the future of energy security around the world.
The UAE’s wise leadership attaches great importance to producing clean energy. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE has observed that, “The UAE is striving to develop and boost its rich resources and expertise in the international energy markets and enhance its leading role as a world centre for renewable energy research and development.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched many initiatives as part of his commitment to support the sustainable development of the UAE. These reflect the vision of His Highness who stated that, “We recognise that preserving our energy resources will be one of the greatest challenges in our drive towards sustainable development. This, however, will not materialise unless the different facets of our society adopt energy conservation principles in their core values. The future generations will be the chief beneficiary of our achievements,”” said Al Mehairi.
“We have taken a 360-degree approach to innovation, making it an integral part of our strategy and business model. In addition to attracting new investments in energy, especially clean energy, we enhance our expertise in these areas and develop our production capabilities to achieve positive results for everyone,” she added.
In the last 10 years, the UAE has made significant progress in energy security, diversification of its sources, increasing efficiency of both production and use, and the shift towards using clean energy to achieve sustainable development and support the UAE Vision 2021 to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world by then.
In 2012, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the long-term Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative, to establish the UAE as one of the global leaders in sustainable development, and a global hub for exporting and re-exporting green products and technologies, while maintaining a sustainable environment that supports economic growth in the long run. The initiative includes a range of programmes and policies in energy, agriculture, investment, and sustainable transport, in addition to new environmental and construction policies to raise standards of living in the UAE.
According to Al Mehairi, the UAE’s wise leadership realises the importance of preserving our natural resources and ensuring accessibility to energy services and are working to establish the UAE as a centre for renewable energy research and development.
Al Mehairi discussed energy security and its impact on social and economic development. She noted that, according to the latest UN statistics, 1.4 billion people in the world suffer from energy poverty, which means a lack of energy services, and about 2 million people, mainly women and children, die annually because of the burning of biomass indoors fuels to meet their daily needs. According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, one woman dies every minute from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, often due to a lack of electricity and inadequate lighting. This requires us to make more efforts to provide clean, sustainable, and affordable energy for everyone.
Al Mehairi highlighted the leading role of the UAE in enhancing innovation in clean energy, energy diversification targets. For example, the Dubai integrated Energy Strategy 2030 developed by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy diversifies Dubai’s energy mix to include 71% from gas, 15% from solar power, 7% from clean coal, and 7% from nuclear power. DEWA was able to increase the solar energy target to this percentage thanks to the developments and competitive prices in photovoltaic technologies in the last few years. These target support the carbon abatement strategies, and major solar power projects, notably the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which will produce 3,000MW by 2030. It includes an innovation centre, a research and development centre, and a university. DEWA has also launched Shams Dubai initiative to encourage owners of residential and commercial buildings to install photovoltaic panels to produce electricity and connect it to the grid, and develop the legal framework to regulate it.
“DEWA’s investments in the energy sector will total approximately AED 60 billion over the next five years. AED 150 million of this amount is allocated for innovation and research and development. This will enhance production of electricity and water, renewable energy, and smart grids in Dubai,” noted Al Mehairi.
“Innovation is a key enabler of long-term success in the clean energy sector. The UAE has declared 2015 as the Year of Innovation, driven by the National Innovation Strategy announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai,” she added.
Al Mehairi noted that DEWA adopts innovation across all its operations. This has helped it to achieve excellent results in increasing energy efficiency. DEWA managed to improve the ratio of production efficiency for electricity and water to 28.36% in 2014, compared with 2006.
DEWA has surpassed major European and American companies in different areas. Losses in power transmission and distribution networks were reduced to 3.26%, compared to 6-7% in Europe and the USA. Water network losses decreased to around 9%, compared to 15% in North America. The UAE, represented by DEWA, has been ranked fourth globally and first in the Middle East and North Africa for the second consecutive year for getting electricity as per the World Bank’s Doing Business 2015 report.
The session closed with a discussion about the challenges facing innovation in clean energy, particularly technological and final barriers, in addition to available opportunities to ensure sustainable growth. The session emphasised that it is important for governments to support and adopt innovation, including the private sector, and creating a stimulating and attractive environment.
At the end of the discussion, Al Mehairi expressed her happiness to participate in the Forum as a member of the UAE delegation. She wished the Forum success in enhancing the role of women around the world, and that it will develop innovative and practical strategies to boost their contribution to the global economy, and empower societies.
The panel discussion Al Mehairi participated in also featured wide participation from government representatives and academics.
A number of leading women in women’s empowerment, education, science, technology, and energy were also present.