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Metering and billing

In the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the distribution utility companies use an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) consisting of a wireless mesh that communicates data from smart meters located on customers’ premises to the utility’s central system.

  • AMI facilitates automatic meter reading, enables time-of day tariffs, faster service restoration and coupled with a Smart Grid, provides the ability to implement demand response.
  • The electrical smart meters record consumption of electric energy in intervals of an hour or less and communicate that information daily back to the distribution company for monitoring and billing purposes.
  • Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the utility central system via the distribution company’s AMI network. In addition, the smart meters may also communicate with appliances/devices within the home, thus providing a gateway for home automation.
  • Headquarters

    The Regulation and Supervision Bureau (Bureau) is the independent regulator of the water, wastewater and electricity Sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Its powers, duties and functions are set out in various Abu Dhabi laws. The main duty of the Bureau is to ensure secure supplies of electricity and water to the people of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. However, the laws also impose a range of general duties on the Bureau.

    In regulating electricity, water, sewerage, wastewater treatment and disposal, we are responsible for the protection of public health, the environment and customer interests while minimising any public nuisance from these activities.

    Our core business activities are:

    1. Economic controls;
    2. Licensee compliance;
    3. Customer support;
    4. Technical regulation and supervision;
    5. Health, safety and environment; and
    6. Corporate operations and support services.

    We use economic controls to drive sector efficiency. Responsibilities include:

  • establishing and applying price controls and reviewing capex in order to cap the annual revenue of each monopoly licensee;
  • incentivising efficiency and service performance;
  • helping develop and maintain cost-reflective intra-sector charges;
  • strengthening and supporting competition where appropriate; and
  • identifying and supporting cost-reflective charges for setting end-user tariffs.

    We focus our licence compliance efforts on making sure licensees are aware of the legal requirements in their licence conditions. It also drives them to develop programmes for compliance.
    Responsibilities include:
  • analysing compliance requirements;
  • setting compliance programmes for licensees;
  • communicating our compliance programmes to licensees;
  • monitoring and reporting on compliance; and
  • developing a system, under law, for enforcement action.

    Our customer support focus is driving the sector to satisfy the reasonable expectations of customers.
    Responsibilities include:
  • overseeing the sector’s application and delivery of Overall and Guaranteed Service Standards for end-customers;
  • incentivising licensees to improve service levels for their worst-served customers;
  • supporting the distribution companies in expanding payment methods
  • establishing a regime to monitor vulnerable customers; and
  • Promoting and providing guidance to customers on the wise use of water and electricity through our Waterwise and Powerwise Offices ( and

    Our technical regulation focus is driving improvements in technical efficiency and performance, and matching capacity with growing demand.
    Responsibilities include:
  • reviewing and approving long-term capacity planning statements;
  • monitoring, incentivising and reporting on plant and network efficiency and performance;
  • developing new technical regulations, codes and standards and keeping to international best practice;
  • monitoring and enforcing compliance with licence conditions and regulations, and approving relevant codes and security standards;
  • facilitating cross-border connections;
  • facilitating low-carbon production and production from renewables;
  • facilitating efficiency-of-use and demand-side management;
  • developing and facilitating the training and registering of electrical contractors;
  • working with relevant stakeholders to help the sector meet its primary fuel needs.

    Our health, safety and environment focus is facilitating the sector to drive improvements in employee and public health and safety and its environmental record.
    Responsibilities include:
  • monitoring and responding to public health and safety issues; and
  • monitoring, driving continuous improvement and reporting sector HS&E compliance.

    Corporate operations and support services exist to efficiently deliver our internal operations, because these underpin our external outputs. Responsibilities include:
  • staff welfare;
  • outsourcing non-core functions;
  • continual people development, particularly for UAE Nationals; and
  • information and knowledge management.
  • The Bureau is a non-profit organisation which, in accordance with Law No (2) of 1998, is funded by the payment of fees by licence holders. This provides a degree of financial independence and means that the Bureau is defined more as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or semi-governmental and not as a government department.

    Positioning the Bureau
    Our stakeholders
    Our stakeholders are wide-ranging and complex in their inter-relationships. They vary in their level of influence over the volume and type work we do. Their interest in our outputs also varies.

    AADC Al Ain Distribution Company, EMAL Emirates Aluminium Company Limited, ADDC Abu Dhabi Distribution Company, ENEC Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, ADFCA Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, FANR Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, ADFEC Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, GCCIA GCC Interconnection Authority, ADNOC Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, HAAD Health Authority Abu Dhabi, ADSSC Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company, ISTPs Independent Sewage Treatment Plants ,ADWEA Abu Dhabi Water And Electricity Authority, IWPPs Independent Water & Power Plants , ADWEC Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Company Micro Gen Micro Generation , CEHS Centre for Environment, Health & Safety RASCO Remote Areas Services Company , CWM Centre for Waste Management TDIC Tourism Development and Investment Company , DEL Dolphin Energy Limited TRANSCO Abu Dhabi Transmission & Despatch Company , DMA Department of Municipal Affairs UPC Urban Planning Council , EAD Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

    Load despatch centre

    The transmission company is responsible for reliably, securely and safely transmitting water and electricity from the production plants to the distribution networks.

    The transmission company maintains and operates a network of transmission assets, including the Load Despatch Centre (LDC) and manages all planned and unplanned maintenance activities. The LDC acts as the steering body that calculates water and electricity production and controls transfer in the network (i.e. network management).

    To meet demand in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, the LDC economic despatch engineers produce forecast calculations using a Unit Commitment Software.

    Co-generation plant

    In co-generation, the electrical power is generated by gas turbines. Excess heat out of gas turbines is used to generate steam in heat recovery boiler. In turn, this steam is used for the production of more electricity using steam turbines and fresh water using desalination. In co-generation, three desalination methods are used in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi: Multi Stage Flash, Multi Effect Desalination and Reverse Osmosis (please click on the Reverse Osmosis plant for details).

    Key Facts:

  • The majority of Abu Dhabi’s fresh water comes from cogeneration desalination plants.
  • These plants are mainly powered by natural gas.
  • Cogeneration units achieve higher efficiency than conventional power plants because they rationally use the heat emitted during power generation,and hence allows significant reductions in the consumption of primary energy sources (oil and gas) and in emissions of gases responsible for climate change (CO2).
  • These plants ensure high reliability even in extreme climatic conditions.
  • Typical life cycle of a cogeneration plant is 20 to 25 years.
  • Fuel (1) is pumped into the gas turbine (2), where it is mixed with air and burned, converting its chemical energy into heat energy. As well as heat, burning natural gas produces a mixture of gases called combustion gas. The heat makes the combustion gas expand causing a build-up of pressure in the gas turbine.

    The pressure drives the combustion gas over the blades of the gas turbine, causing it to spin, converting some of the heat energy into mechanical energy. A shaft connects the gas turbine to the generator so, when the turbine spins, the generator does too. The generator uses an electromagnetic field to convert this mechanical energy into electrical energy.

    After passing through the gas turbine, the still-hot combustion gas is piped to a steam generator (3). Here it is used to heat pipes full of water, turning the water to steam, before going to the desalination plant (5).

    The hot steam expands in the pipes so, when it emerges, it is under high pressure. These high-pressure steam jets spin the steam turbine (4), just like the combustion gas spins the gas turbine. The steam turbine is connected by a shaft to the steam turbine generator, which converts the turbine’s mechanical energy into electrical energy.

    Multi Stage Flash (MSF) distillation works on the principle that seawater will evaporate once it is introduced to the first evaporator (or flash chamber). Seawater intake source comes through one common channel. Multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) is a desalination process that distils seawater by flashing a portion of the seawater into steam in multiple stages that are essentially counter current heat exchangers. The plant has a series of spaces called stages, each containing a heat exchanger and a condensate collector with the first stage being the hot end and the last stage being the cold end while intermediate stages have intermediate temperatures hence different pressures which correspond to the boiling points of water at the stage temperatures.

  • Feed seawater at the inlet flows through the heat exchangers in the stages and warms up. In the heater (boiler), an amount of additional heat is added where it reaches the maximum design temperature. Provision shall be made for dosing the feed water with scale control chemicals and anti- foam chemicals.
  • Primary fuel used in a desalination plant is natural gas. Heat source used to operate MSF distillers is supplied as a by-product from power generation.
  • The feed seawater carries away the latent heat of the condensed steam. The brine temperature in the last stage is slightly higher than the inlet temperature. In order to maximise heat recovery and to minimise the heat added to the system in the seawater heater (boiler), a portion of the brine in the last stage is mixed with the feed seawater.
  • The seawater flows back into the stages which have sequential lower pressure and temperature. As it flows back through the stages the seawater is now called brine hence to distinguish it from the inlet seawater. As the brine enters each stage, its temperature is above the boiling point at the pressure of the stage and a small fraction of the brine water boils (flashes) to steam thereby reducing the temperature until an equilibrium is reached. The resulting steam temperature is higher than that of the feed seawater in the heat exchanger thus it cools and condenses against the heat exchanger tubes, thereby heating the feed seawater as described in step (1).
  • This is the heat exchanger section of the flash chamber (stage) against which steam condenses.
  • These are the condensate collector trays which collect the condensed steam.
  • The distillate is remineralised before being pumped into storage tanks and through to the transmission system.
  • The Multi Effect Desalination (MED) is a process that takes place in a series of effects. Vapour from the first evaporator condenses in the second evaporator and their heat of condensation serve to boil the seawater in the second evaporator. Each evaporator in the series is called an "effect".

  • Feed seawater flowing over a heat transfer surface is heated by prime steam as it enters the first effect. Feed seawater is sprayed on the top of the bank of the horizontal tubes, and then drips from tube to tube until it is collected at the bottom of the effect. Provision shall be made for dosing the feed water with scale control chemicals and anti- foam chemicals.
  • In the first effect, part of the seawater vaporises and is collected in a series of tubes to the following effects which are operated at decreasing pressure and temperature.
  • Primary fuel used in a desalination plant is natural gas. Heat source used to operate MED distillers is supplied as a by-product from power generation.
  • The process of evaporation plus condensation is repeated from effect to effect. The steam that condenses inside the effects is what ends up as drinking water. The combined condensed vapour constitutes the final water product or distillate. Brine and distillate are collected from effect to effect until they are extracted.
  • The distillate is remineralised prior to being pumped into storage tanks and then to the transmission system.
  • Natural Gas is the primary fuel for power and water production in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
  • Natural gas (largely methane) burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels (45% less carbon dioxide emitted than coal and 30% less than oil).
  • Modern gas fired power plants offer higher efficiency than similar oil and coal plants.
  • Gas fired power plants offer high operational flexibility – the ability of a power plant for fast start-up and load output adjustment.
  • Liquid Fuel (diesel and crude oil) is used as back-up fuel in all the Emirate’s power plants. They must store enough liquid fuel to continuously produce full power and water for seven days.
  • The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has the fifth-largest gas reserves in the world (after Russia, Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) - estimated at 204.8 trillion cubic feet.
  • Supply of Natural Gas comes from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Ltd (GASCO) and Dolphin Energy (DEL).
  • DEL is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi and Qatar to produce and transport gas from Ras Lafan gas field to UAE and Oman.
  • UAE is also planning to build a floating Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Fujairah, with direct access to the Indian Ocean.
  • Recycled water disposal

    Any treated effluent produced by a wastewater treatment works that is reused is called recycled water and any sewage sludge that is treated and reused is called biosolids.

    Wastewater disposal systems convey these two products from treatment works to end-users at points of transfer.

    Recycled water disposal systems are typically made up of gravity pipelines, pumping stations and pressure mains. Biosolids are typically transported from treatment works by truck.

    Reverse osmosis

    Reverse osmosis occurs when the solution pressure is increased above the osmotic pressure (π). In osmosis, a spontaneous transport of solvent occurs from a dilute solute or salt solution to a concentrated solute or salt solution across a semi permeable membrane which allows the passage of a solvent but impedes passage of salt solutes. Solvent flow can be reduced by exerting pressure on the salt solution side and membrane until at a certain pressure called the osmotic pressure of salt solution equilibrium is reached and the amount of solvent passing in opposite directions are equal. To reverse the flow of the water so it flows from the salt solution to the fresh solvent, the pressure is increased above the osmotic pressure (π) and this process is called reverse osmosis.

  • Feed seawater is pumped (1) to the pre-treatment unit.
  • Feed seawater is filtered to remove small particles and biological matter. Chlorine is added and used as a disinfectant to reduce the presence of microorganisms.
  • A high pressure pump raises the pressure of the feed water to enter the pressure vessels.
  • Feed water enters the pressure vessels where fresh water passes through the RO membrane, while most of the dissolved salts are rejected by the membrane and concentrates in the reject brine stream through discharge pipes
  • Depending on the RO system design, when source seawater salinity is high or the product water quality requirements are stringent, it passes through the membrane twice for greater purity.
  • The resulting water is then treated to turn it into potable water (6) prior to being pumped through the transmission system.
  • Water cooling

    Water cooling systems produce and distribute chilled water around large scale buildings to support air conditioning.

  • Chilled water is generated by compression.
  • It is then circulated throughout the building via a closed loop system to air conditioning units in the building.
  • Air is forced past the cold water pipes in the a/c units to produce chilled and dehumidified air.
  • Water in the chilled water circuit is returned at an elevated temperature to the chilling system where heat is expelled via the chillers and cooling tower loop.
  • Key facts:
  • Water cooling systems rely on the evaporation of high-quality water to drive the cooling process. The choice of water supply has a large impact on performance.
  • Typically the systems use 10 litres of water to produce 1 tonne of refrigeration which is enough to service a floor area of 20 m² in retail spaces or 35 m² in residential and office spaces.
  • Water transmission

    The majority of transmission pumping stations is un-manned and controlled remotely. During the pumping process, the electrolyzer produces a hypochlorite solution to maintain a residual disinfectant to complement the primary disinfection carried out in desalination plants.

    The total pumping stations capacity is 2,283 million imperial gallons per day.

    District Cooling

    District cooling systems provide chilled water to a development by producing chilled water at a central location and distributing it to a large number of buildings via a closed loop distribution system. The chilled water is used in the buildings to facilitate air conditioning.

  • Chilled water is produced by compression chillers at a central plant
  • A primary water circuit of insulated pipes then distributes the chilled water to buildings across a development.
  • An energy transfer station in each building then transfers heat from the building’s chilled water system to the district cooling primary water circuit.
  • Warm water is returned to the central chiller plant where heat is expelled via the chillers and cooling tower loop.
  • Key facts:

  • District cooling is suitable for large-scale, high density diverse developments.
  • District cooling systems rely on the evaporation of high-quality water to drive the cooling process. The choice of water supply has a large impact on performance.
  • Typically the systems use 10 litres of water to produce 1 tonne of refrigeration which is enough to service a floor area of 20 m² in retail spaces or 35 m² in residential and office spaces.
  • District cooling systems offer a number of advantages over conventional cooling systems by diversifying peak loads and assuring high system utilisation and availability.
  • Farm and irrigation

  • Irrigation makes up 85% of the Emirate’s water demand (The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi).
  • Water for the irrigation of farms, forests and amenity areas is currently obtained from Abu Dhabi’s three national taps: groundwater wells, desalinated supply and recycled water network.
  • Many agencies including the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, the Urban Planning Council, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and the Bureau are looking at ways to improve the efficiency of water use in irrigation.
  • Integration of the supplies from the three national taps is critical to ensure that reasonable demands are met safely and economically.
  • Wastewater collection

    A wastewater collection network receives wastewater from domestic, commercial and industrial buildings and conveys it to the wastewater treatment works.

    It is typically made up of small diameter (<200mmØ) local networks which discharge into a large diameter (<400mmØ) trunk sewer system that conveys it to the treatment plant.

    There are three types of collection networks:

  • Gravity sewers are the most common and simple systems. They use gravity to convey wastewater away from the point of discharge.
  • Vacuum sewers are used where ground conditions are difficult. Wastewater is sucked away from the point of discharge by an air flow.
  • Pressure systems are typically used in conjunction with gravity systems to avoid deep excavations. Wastewater is pressurised by a pump and passed through a rising main to a point of discharge.
  • Wastewater treatment

    Wastewater treatment plants use a range of physical, chemical and biological treatment process to reduce the quantity of chemical and microbiological pollutants in the wastewater.

    Treating wastewater ensures that the end product (treated effluent) can be discharged to the environment without causing a significant impact or reused for non-potable purposes.

    Wastewater treatment is typically carried out in four phases:

  • Inlet - Large objects that should not have entered the sewer such as rags, plastics and gravel are removed by screens and grit traps.
  • Primary - Gravity is used to remove 60% of the remaining solids in a settlement tank and are drawn from the tank as sewage sludge.
  • Secondary - The micro-organisms present in the wastewater are then used to breakdown the remaining pollutants, in a biological treatment process. The most common form of secondary treatment process is the Activated Sludge Process. Once the micro-organisms have broken down the pollutants they are removed from the wastewater by another settlement tank or a membrane filtration process.
  • Tertiary - Finally the treated effluent can be polished in a filtration process to remove any remaining pollutants and disinfected, typically with chlorine, to deactivate any remaining bacteria.
  • Nuclear plant

    A nuclear reactor produces electricity in much the same way other power plants do. The heat is produced from splitting atoms – a process called nuclear fission, which turns water into steam.
    The pressure of the steam turns a generator, which produces electricity.

    Key Facts:

  • Nuclear power plants need less fuel than those burning fossil fuels. One ton of uranium produces more energy than is produced by several million tons of coal or several million barrels of oil.
  • Although the initial capital cost of building a nuclear plant is high, maintenance and running costs are relatively low.
  • It is a very reliable source of energy. The average life span of a nuclear reactor is approximately 40 years which can be extended up to 60 years.
  • Around 6 % of the world’s energy and 14 % of the world’s electricity is produced by nuclear power.
  • Nuclear power is the only energy industry which takes full responsibility for all its waste and costs this into the product.
  • Concentrated solar plant

    CSP (concentrating solar power) plants produce electric power by converting the sun's energy into high-temperature heat using various mirror configurations. The heat is then channeled through a conventional generator.

    The plants consist of two parts: one that collects solar energy and converts it to heat, and another that converts heat energy to electricity.

    Key Facts:

  • CSP can produce electricity at peak demand when it is needed most during the late afternoon or early evening hours.
  • CSP can be incorporated into coal or gas power plants as “hybrids” for cleaner baseload power
  • CSP significantly reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and avoids air-borne pollutants. If, for example, a 100 MW CSP trough plant with six hours of storage were to replace the same amount of power generated from a combined cycle natural gas plant, there would be a reduction in atmospheric emissions of 191,000 tons/yr of CO2, 4.5 tons/yr of CO, and 7.4 tons/yr of NOx
  • Electricity transmission system

    Transmission network:

    The transmission network is used to transport large volumes of electricity between the power stations and the main centres of use load where it is distributed to users via local electricity distribution networks.

    The transmission system is made up of two key building blocks:

  • circuits which interconnect the transmission system, these can be either overhead line or high voltage cable; and
  • substations which contain switchgear to switch or reconfigure circuits and transformers used to transform the voltage.
  • Switchgear

    The term switchgear refers to the equipment used to control and switch the flow of power within an electricity system.


    A transformer is an electro-magnetical device that is used to change the voltage of an alternating current, such as the mains electrical supply. Transformers are used to increase the voltage of electricity entering the transmission system as it is more efficient to transmit electricity at higher voltages. High voltage electricity is more dangerous hence, to improve safety; once the electricity has been transported transformers are used to reduce the voltage to safe working limits for distribution and consumption.

    Overhead line:

    An overhead line is a conductor of electricity, usually aluminium with steel reinforcement, suspended on towers or utility poles and is used to transmit electricity from one location to another.

    High-voltage cable:

    A high-voltage cable, commonly referred to as HV cable, is a conductor of electricity (usually copper or aluminium) which is encased in a layer of insulation, such as poly or cross-linked polyethylene. High voltage cables are more expensive than overhead line and hence are used where the application of overhead lines is not practical, for instance in highly populated areas.

    Embedded renewable energy

  • Embedded or distributed renewable generation is electricity generation which is connected to a distribution network rather than the extra high-voltage transmission network. Embedded renewable generation such as wind or solar photovoltaic, is typically smaller in size to conventional generation.
  • Embedded generators deliver electricity to consumers in a more direct way than centralised generators. The electricity is generated in closer proximity to the consumer, reducing the distance over which the electricity has to travel and therefore reducing electrical losses. The electricity is also delivered either at or closer to the correct voltage for distribution.
  • Examples of embedded renewable energy are the 10MW Solar PV farm at Masdar City and 1MW Wind Turbine on Sir Bani Yas Island.
  • The photovoltaic effect is the flow of electric current in a semi-conductor material such as silicon when the material is exposed to light.
  • When light energy strikes the solar cell, electrons are knocked loose from the atoms in the semiconductor material.
  • If electrical conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides, forming an electrical circuit, the electrons can be captured in the form of an electric current, i.e. electricity.
  • Energy-from-waste

    Energy-from-waste (EfW) is the process of creating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the incineration of waste. Most EfW processes produce electricity directly through combustion, or produce a combustible fuel commodity, such as methane, methanol, ethanol or synthetic fuels.

  • The EfW process uses waste as a fuel to generate electricity, reducing the need for increasingly scarce resources such as oil, coal and gas.
  • Mass-burn technology commonly used in EfW plants is a proven technology. It provides reliable electricity with high availability and capacity.
  • The EfW process can reduce landfill waste volume by up to 90%.
  • The EfW process allows further recycling. After the waste is burnt, metals are removed using a large magnet and sent for recycling. The remaining bottom ash left in the grate is processed on site and used for road building.
  • PV solar plant

    PV (Photovoltaic) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.
    Photovoltaic power generation employs solar panels composed of a number of cells containing a photovoltaic material.
    Materials presently used for photovoltaic include monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, and copper indium gallium selenide/sulphide.

    Key Facts:

  • In just 1-hour the earth receives enough energy from the sun to power the world’s population for a year.
  • Solar PV could provide 10,000 times more energy than the world currently uses.
  • Solar PV panels make electricity as soon as they are in the light. They are never off.
  • In remote areas that have no access to the transmission system, PV can be used as valuable resource to generate energy.
  • Solar PV capacity has increased the fastest in the last decade, followed by biodiesel and wind.
  • Rooftop solar PV panels

  • Electricity produced from Photovoltaic Effect by the rooftop solar PV installation (1) is in the form of direct current (DC).
  • This DC output is connected to a PV Inverter (2) whereby electricity is converted into alternating current (AC).
  • The AC output of the inverter will then feed in to the home’s main low voltage distribution board (5) which will then power up all the home appliances (7).
  • With such rooftop solar PV self-generation, the home owner will import less electricity from the grid.
  • Any excess electricity generated can be exported into the grid (8).
  • Wind turbines

    A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind, also called wind energy, into mechanical energy; a process known as wind power.
    A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location which may be located offshore.

    Wind (1) turns the turbine blades, which spins the shaft (2) . The shaft connects the wind turbine to the generator (3), so when the turbine spins, the generator does too. The generator uses an electromagnetic field to convert this mechanical energy into electrical.

    Key Facts:

  • Wind energy is an endless source of energy
  • Wind has the potential to generate energy on a large scale
  • Wind energy can be harnessed only in areas where wind is strong and weather is windy for most of the year
  • In combination with solar energy, wind turbines can provide a reliable and steady supply of electricity
  • In remote areas that have no access to the transmission system, wind turbines can be a valuable resource to generate energy