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Thu 24 May 2018 02:46 PM

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The explainer: Mall of the Emirates adopts solar

The energy saving initiative is an obvious and welcome move for the mall, so why only now for the move to solar panels?

The explainer: Mall of the Emirates adopts solar
MAF Holding’s Ibharim Al Zubi, Enova CEO Anne Le Guennec and Hussain Moosa from Majid Al Futtaim Properties

So, explain the initiative...

Enova, created in 2002 as a joint venture between Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) and French energy management company Veolia, recently unveiled the first phase of Mall of the Emirates’ solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, set to generate three GWh of clean energy, saving up to AED1.4m energy costs per year. Exactly 7,291 photovoltaic panels were fitted to 1,068 carports spanning 11,996 sqm. The panels have been installed on the top floor outdoor carpark.

What do those figures equate to in savings terms?

This new solar PV plant is the equivalent to the size of nearly two football fields and is set to reduce 2,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, equivalent to taking 480 cars off the road, according to Ibrahim Al Zubi, chief sustainability officer at Majid Al Futtaim Holding.

Why now and why only on this small area of the mall?

According to Enova CEO Anne Le Guennec, the work is being done in two phases with plans to fit solar panels to the rooftop and façade of Mall of the Emirates at a later date. “We waited until now because the technology is evolving a lot and by working in two phases we feel there will be greater options to install something that is even more efficient in future. I trust that in a few years we will work on the facade as well because there are some technologies that would work there. The panels are getting much lighter but the technology is not completely there yet so sometimes it is better to wait a little bit. It’s a question of balance between the cost and the energy saved.”

How serious is Majid Al Futtaim about energy efficiency?

It has a strategy to become net positive in water consumption and carbon emissions by 2040. This project is part of an initiative between Enova and Majid Al Futtaim’s Shopping Malls business unit to install solar PV to power three of its shopping malls by the end of 2018. The objective is to source a minimum of 7.5 percent of energy via renewable energy at all new developments and a minimum of five percent in existing buildings.

What else have they been doing to achieve that target?

Le Guennec says Ski Dubai now consumes less energy than a typical 120-room hotel thanks to continuous upgrades to the site.

“People always point to us creating snow in the desert but it is really well insulated. We’ve operated it for more than 12 years and we have continued to work at this over that time to reduce energy loss,” she says.

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