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Wed 9 Jan 2019 03:19 PM

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2019 Outlook: Middle East firms can reduce their energy costs by tapping into renewable energy

Public awareness for a sustainable development is another key success factor that should be broadly communicated and be part of the education programme, wriites Laurent Longuet, CEO at SirajPower

2019 Outlook: Middle East firms can reduce their energy costs by tapping into renewable energy
Bright side the region has seen many positive solar power initiatives

In 2018 and on a regional level, we have seen a lot of positive initiatives and policies to encourage the adoption of solar energy. Even though the market hasn’t reached maturity yet, the transition is accelerating and we are seeing good momentum in Dubai and the UAE, where there are a lot of opportunities.

In Dubai only, the solar power plants under construction at this time are much larger than the largest existing nuclear reactors in the world. Solar energy, and more generally renewable energies, is not a solution for tomorrow. Change is happening and it is starting in the region, from the UAE.

Dubai has been putting a lot of efforts to have all rooftops fitted with Photovoltaic (PV) panels. According to DEWA, Dubai has achieved over 50MW of installed capacity connected to the grid, with a growing interest estimated to be over 400MW to date.

Initiatives such as Shams Dubai which was launched in 2015, with an objective to have solar panels on all rooftops across the Emirates by 2030, played a key role to promote Dubai’s sustainable development and transformation into a green economy. Dubai is targeting to generate 7 percent of its total power output from clean energy sources by 2020, 25 percent by 2030 and 75 percent by 2050.

While the majority of renewable energy capacity installed by 2030 is expected to emanate from the MBR solar development, Dubai is relying on the successful implementation of its ambitious Shams rooftop solar programme to meet its 75 percent clean energy goal by the year 2050.

We expect to see new technologies beyond solar rooftops

If the regulatory framework could surely be improved, it is already sufficient for a wide adoption of the solar rooftop solutions throughout Dubai.

Public awareness for a sustainable development is another key success factor that should be broadly communicated and be part of the education programme. Today, the public sector should serve as a role model, paving the way for the private sector (commercial and industrial clients) to adhere to this national ambition of having a solar rooftop on every roof by 2030.

As the market continues to grow and competition increases, we believe we will see industry consolidation in 2019. The other challenge will be on the operations and maintenance (O&M) side. Indeed, we have seen many systems installed in the last 12 to 18 months, with a significant share of them not being designed to high standards of quality. Owners will start facing difficulties and, when not supported by a proper O&M partner, may experience low performance. It will be important for companies to heavily invest in developing stringent standards of quality with the implementation of proper O&M tools and methodology to ensure the highest performance over the life of the systems.

Operations and maintenance will be a challenge in 2019

In 2019, we also expect the market to be addressed with the introduction of new technologies beyond the roof-top market only. This includes, for instance, solar carport, off-grid systems. In addition to that, we welcome the recent progresses made by PV manufacturers to propose, at a very competitive price, some higher efficiency photovoltaic solutions. At the same time, we are thrilled to get some larger size inverters which allow a reduction in capital costs. Both contribute in giving companies like us the opportunity to offer our customers much more competitive offers. For the near future, we are very excited by battery technologies and the possibility they offer in terms of providing an affordable cost of electricity for solar autonomous systems.

Overall, we anticipate more local businesses, including large and reputable names, to adopt renewable energy sources, especially solar power, as it remains the highest value in the region due to the largest solar radiation. More and more companies are keen to substantially reduce their energy expenditure while fulfilling commitment toward a sustainable future in line with the Emirates’ long-term green vision.

Laurent Longuet, CEO at SirajPower

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