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Retrofitting and refurbishing existing buildings have been identified as core strategies to reduce overall energy demand.

Dubai - UAE malls turning to green practices and tech to cut energy consumption


Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Thu 17 May 2018, 8:13 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 May 2018, 9:55 AM

Mega structures such as shopping malls in the UAE are increasingly looking at ways to curb their energy consumption, through the implementation of green energy practices and technologies such as solar panels and LED lighting.
Towards that end, Majid Al Futtaim recently unveiled the first phase of its solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at Mall of the Emirates that is set to generate 3GWh of clean energy, saving up to Dh1.4 million on energy costs every year. Envisioned in partnership with Enova, a total of 7,291 PV panels were fitted to 1,068 carports. Spanning over 11,996sqm, the plant is equivalent to the size of nearly two football fields.
Ibrahim Al'Zubi, chief sustainability officer at Majid Al Futtaim-Holding, said that the new solar PV plant is set to reduce 2,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, equivalent to taking 480 cars off the road. The energy generated will be enough to power 8,500 light bulbs for a whole year.
"Mall of the Emirates' renewable energy plant brings Majid Al Futtaim one step closer to our commitment to become 'Net Positive' in carbon and water by 2040," he said. "City Centre Me'aisem and My City Centre Al Barsha have already been fitted with solar panels since 2016. We believe in investing in innovation and technology to tackle sustainability challenges."

The 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 2018. The objective is to source a minimum of 7.5 per cent of energy use on site via renewable energy at all new developments and a minimum of five per cent in existing buildings.
"We encourage our clients to take a step further in their energy performance strategies by supporting them to not only implement energy conservation measures for increased energy efficiency, but also generate their own energy through on-site solar photovoltaic plants," said Anne Le Guennec, CEO of Enova.
The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy has set the goal of reducing energy demand by 30 per cent by 2030 and to retrofit 30,000 buildings by the same year.
Retrofitting and refurbishing existing buildings have been identified as core strategies to reduce overall energy demand. The transition to renewables could generate additional net annual savings of $1 billion to as much as $3.7 billion by 2030.
Experts estimate that ramping up renewables to 10 per cent of the UAE's total energy mix, and 25 per cent of total power generation, could generate annual savings of $1.9 billion by 2030, through the avoidance of fossil-fuel consumption and lower energy costs.
Solar panels on rooftops have gained momentum in recent years as a means of providing up to 20 per cent of a building's energy needs. The average return on investments on the installation of coloured solar panels is estimated to be between four to eight years.
The UAE in general, and Dubai in particular, is committed to a solar-powered future with Dubai targeted to source seven per cent of its power supply from clean energy by 2020, and 75 per cent by 2050. Another method of conserving energy has been through the use of LED lighting, which use at least 75 per cent less energy, and last 25 times longer than traditional lighting.
Omar Khoory, managing director of Nakheel Malls, said that the company is in the process of switching all of its existing malls' interiors to energy-efficient, LED lighting, which will also be installed at all of their upcoming malls.
"Our car parks also use solar lighting. Naturally, we continue to explore further ways to adopt green energy practices," he said.
"Glass exteriors not only increases visibility but also helps reduce energy consumption. The glass front is specially designed to divert heat and conserve electricity by letting maximum natural light into the corridors and stores of the mall," said Ziad Hameed, property manager at Sunset Mall.
"Fewer lights are installed in the common areas than a mall that would have concrete walls. During daytime in summers, most lights of the front corridors are switched off. This all glass and steel façade also offers attractive, modern aesthetics as a bonus, along with reducing the carbon footprint."

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