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The GCC’s solar revolution

With costs down and interest up, Saeed Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA, speaks with Construction Business News ME about unlocking the potential of residential and distributed solar in the UAE and GCC

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) along with the International Renewable Energy Authority (IRENA) hosted a joint workshop on accelerating residential solar in UAE at Raffles Dubai on 8 November.

“In line with this initiative, DEWA has trained more than 120 individuals both consultants and contractors. There are over 26 companies that have registered, which is a good start,” says Saeed Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA. During the workshop, the organisation aimed to include more professionals and talk about technical know-how on how to move forward.

The workshop covered topics including upcoming opportunities in the market, potential for cost reduction, best practices in the industry, different global policy approaches in residential solar, and how to implement it on the ongoing and new initiatives in the GCC.

Mohamed El-Farnawany, director of strategic management and execution direction at IRENA, says that the cost of renewables in the global market is the same, if not lower, than fossil fuels. “Renewables are becoming one of the most cost-effective source of electricity around the world. It is also economically attractive in this country, and according to IRENA’s latest joint work in the UAE, the deployment of 10% share of renewable energy in the total energy mix could generate annual savings of $1.9bn by 2030.

“What we are witnessing in the region today is historical and revolutionary.”

Al Tayer says that through these initiative DEWA also aims to educate its customers about Shams Dubai launched earlier this year.

The CEO also exemplifies the US, where there are approximately 700,000 households with solar systems and, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) out of that total, 66,440 new solar systems were installed in the first three months of this year as a result of improved technologies and falling costs.

He emphasises that the goal of most entities is the find the “right balance” between innovation, policy, and project implementation.

One of the key challenges he recognises is to create a market for renewables and for that the market needs to be able to afford it. “True efficiency is not only improvement, but also reducing cost.”
He says that when renewables were just introduced a few years ago, it was quite expensive, whereas now the industry has recognised that in order to move forward they need to be more affordable.

The workshop discussed the potential of residential and distributed solar in the UAE. It included a cost session presented by PV installer, a presentation on policies and subsidies and its capability to accelerate the solar movement, and discussion about possible actions and recommendations.

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