World Utilities Congress puts sustainable power, water supplies in spotlight
On the second day of the World Utilities Congress 2023 being held at Abu Dhabi, UAE, global leaders addressed on solutions to ensure sustainable, reliable, and affordable power and water supply for all in global societies.
The second edition of the World Utilities Congress, hosted by the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), engaged industry leaders, innovators, and policymakers from across the globe addressing the integral role power and water play in supporting decarbonization of industries and the path to net-zero.
Christopher Hudson, President of DMG Events that organizes the World Utilities Congress, said, "Sustaining the path to net-zero continues to guide discussions and show highlights for the power and water industry on day two of the World Utilities Congress. This gathering of government stakeholders, global leaders and industry professionals has once again provided the biggest opportunity for the power and water industry to address challenges and explore solutions to deliver secure, sustainable, and affordable energy."
At a ministerial session titled 'Geopolitics and water-energy security: assessing impact', global leaders discussed how worldwide events shifts in energy supply and demand dynamics are affecting the reliability and affordability of supply. Speakers also highlighted some latest innovations aimed at delivering sustainable energy and water supplies for the future.
Speaking at the session, Awaidha Murshed Ali Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE), said, "At the DoE, we aim to strike a balance between how much demand is truly a demand for the growth population and how we supply that considering the impact on the environment and costs. We have implemented an integrated energy model, which enables us to appropriately test any policy choice and monitor regulations."
Another conference session titled 'Pursuing energy security and sustainability in parallel' discussed the critical priorities for balancing security and sustainability given evolving water and power supply dynamics.
Daniela Gentile, Ansaldo Green Tech CEO and Chief Innovation Officer at Ansaldo Energia, said that the call to actions towards COP28 is a call to action to policymakers. "We can't wait 10 years for clean energy infrastructure. It's a call to actions to make feasible the energy transition, adjacent sectors need to cooperate to share the cost of Investment. In spite of different energy mix, social and economic priorities, countries have in common the room to improve energy efficiency, which can be the first clean fuel, making energy more affordable, secure and supporting the transition."
Further, the World Utilities Congress also organized a panel session titled 'Decarbonizing cities' to address the critical role played by urban environments to facilitate the energy transition. With significant portions of global greenhouse emissions generated by cities, panelists addressed opportunities to offset the carbon impact during urban planning, through the integration of renewable energy, technological innovation, and the reduction of power and water demand.
As a corollary to the decarbonization discussions, the overhaul of carbon-intensive grids alongside the expansion of renewable energy production and storage capacity was the agenda at the industry dialogue session titled 'No transition without transmission'. Participants on the panel explored various challenges associated with enhancing transmission infrastructure and the role technology will play in realizing optimum levels of operational efficiency.
Speaking on the importance of upgrading power transmission infrastructure to support the transition to a clean energy future, Omar Al Hashmi, Executive Director, Transmission & Distribution, said, "Many estimates suggest electricity demand could more than double by 2050 to reach net-zero. We need to make sure we are prepared to meet that demand".
"In order to do this, we need to upgrade our grids, build more high-voltage transmission lines that can carry electricity long distances, and use those transmission lines to better connect regions and communities to one another", he added.
Moving on, the growing role of hydrogen in the sustainable future of utilities was the focus of a global panel discussion titled 'Hydrogen – Putting the pieces of the puzzle together." Speakers from rapidly developing hydrogen economies discussed the potential, investment, and implications of adoption in powering utilities of the future.
"From a global technology company's perspective, it's crucial to focus on high impact use cases, embedded efficiency, and performance. At SLB we are working closely with high emissions industries including steel and ammonia to develop customized low carbon solutions. These industrial processes often lend themselves to, and will benefit greatly from hydrogen-based solutions", said Gavin Rennick, President of SLB New Energy.