Solar sees favourable tailwinds as prices of panels, installation drops
The solar power sector in the UAE and the GCC region has been enjoying a surge in interest and growth in both the commercial and residential sectors, driven mainly by a drop in the cost of solar panels and their installation, experts at the 21st Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (Wetex 2019) said.
"The cost of solar energy has dropped dramatically," Ivano Iannelli, CEO of Dubai Carbon, told Khaleej Times. "At the moment, we have seen a turnkey cost of well below 60 per cent, making a standardised solar rooftop kit in the range of 4.5KW priced between Dh20,000 to Dh25,000. This is predominantly due to the efforts of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) to streamline the process and apply measures to facilitate and accelerate the adoption of the technology. In doing so, they have paved the way for greater maturity in the market, and for us to push down the price with service providers and suppliers."
Although it is the third most important energy source globally, solar power is still only producing around 2.8 per cent of the worldwide electricity demand, he added. "There is absolutely no shadow over the future of solar in the UAE, simply because we have seen the abilities of the local utilities departments to run successful energy tenders and challenge global pricing benchmarks."
Similarly, Andrew Shaw, CEO of Ducab, also spoke about the bright future of solar in the region, and how Ducab has worked closely with solar power project developers in the UAE in support of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. "We are already seeing an acceleration in the adoption of renewable energy in the region. There is growth is where ever you look, driven mainly by projects such as the Shams Dubai Initiative. The costs of solar panels and projects have come down to a level where, if you have got the land or the roof space, then it makes perfect economic sense to install solar. The working model examples that Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, are setting in solar energy will have a domino effect on the remaining emirates and contribute further to adoption of the technology."
Ducab signed an agreement with Etihad Energy Service Company (Etihad ESCO), on the sidelines of the event, that will support the UAE's solar energy sector's growth. The new contract will see Ducab supply its SolarBICC cables - specially designed for a growing solar energy market - to Etihad ESCO for its in-house solar power plant. Upon completion, the project is set to generate an annual savings of 3,251,900KWh in energy, which is equivalent to Dh1,447,095.
Ali Al Jassim, CEO of Etihad ESCO, highlighted the success of several of its initiatives, including the installation of 15,000 photovoltaic panels at Terminal 2.
"Dubai Airports are saving up to 32 per cent of its current energy consumption, which is a sizable reduction," he said. "We estimate that in five to seven years, they will have made back their investment in the project. When we look at the feasibility of all our projects, we always look for a time frame of between five and seven years, because the financial feasibility of anything beyond that makes it difficult."
"When we started around five years, the biggest challenge was creating a market and setting an example that will make other players take note of your success," he added. "Today, we are leading the region in terms of executing green projects, and companies are taking note of the Dubai model."