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UAE’s future energy plans

Institutions should offer a diverse range of energy programmes

Pacific Controls HQ, Dubai

Dr Ayoub Kazim (First Person) Jan 17, 2012 - With the rising importance of the energy sector, academic institutions in the UAE such as the University of Sharjah and the UAE University have recently started introducing energy-related disciplines of study.

Complementing this step, universities with a primary focus on energy such as the Masdar Institute of Technology, Petroleum Institute and the Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi have also been established. Additionally, our academic partners at Dubai International Academic City such as Heriot-Watt University offer programmes in niche areas including Masters in Science in Energy.

These institutes offer programmes in renewable energy, electrical, mechanical, civil, as well as chemical and petroleum engineering that will help respond to the growing needs of the sector. However, it is important that the universities also address other vital streams such as energy economics, policy and emerging technologies including fuel cells, hydrogen economy, clean coal technology, nano-wire batteries, energy conversion with carbon sequestration technology and smart grids.

There is also an imperative need for programmes on non-renewable energy to focus on oil, gas, coal, nuclear energy, future needs, reserves, and conservation measures. I further believe that the curriculum must encompass global energy trends and the Middle East energy resources. Other subjects that are vital include conventional and non-conventional sources, natural gas, coal and oil production, its activities and policies since its establishment in 1960 must also be offered to the students as part of the study programme.

In order to communicate a clear understanding on the various types of energy resources in terms of production, consumption and future trends based on global demand, it is crucial for academic programmes to offer a perspective of the value chain in energy management. This can be achieved through providing an analysis on the efficiency and interaction of energy systems with the environment. Moreover, such programmes need to offer adequate know-how on the setting up of viable business models for energy associated projects to ensure their successful implementation.

Although the UAE lacks nuclear energy sources, it is indeed timely for our academic institutions to provide such programmes at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This is particularly relevant with nuclear energy gaining a huge recognition in the country as well as the region, following the UAE government’s establishment of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Cooperation (ENEC) in 2009 to deliver safe, clean and efficient nuclear energy to the country. In addition, Abu Dhabi awarded contracts worth $20 billion to South Korean firms for building the first nuclear energy plant in the country, which is anticipated to be completed in 2017. Nuclear power will account for 23-25 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s electricity supply in 2020, as predicted by ENEC’s officials.

This year, a new academic institution from India, Amity University, set up at Dubai International Academic City, rolled out a solar energy and nuclear energy programme. The Abu Dhabi-based Khalifa University joined Amity in delivering similar programmes as part of their overarching objective to meet the high demand of this sector. When it comes to renewable energy resources, it is imperative for the programmes to address all the eight renewable resources available namely solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro, ocean, wave and tidal energy.

UAE’s future energy plans

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