With increasingly lower-cost solar photovoltaic modules helping the countries in Middle East and North Africa (Mena) to diversify their energy mix, the region is set to attract $35 billion worth of renewable energy investments every year by 2020, stated experts from the International Renewable Energy Authority (Irena).
They were speaking at the World Future Energy Summit 2016 (WFES) which opened Monday (January 18) in the UAE capital.
Hosted by Masdar, WFES is being held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre till January 21, co-located with International Water Summit and EcoWaste.
It is a global platform for open dialogue between government and industry leaders, international policy makers, investors and experts, said the organizers.
Speaking at the launch, leading industry experts have urged governments, banks and landlords in the Mena region to join forces to promote solar rooftop adoption, thus saving on energy costs and creating 'green' jobs.
One of the key supporters of solar rooftop innovation is Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa), whose Shams Dubai initiative connects solar rooftops to its power grid, in support of Dubai Plan 2021 and the Smart Dubai initiative.
Part of the objective is to make Dubai one of the ‘smartest’ cities in the world for energy supply and demand.
Owing to these initiatives, the GCC’s solar capacity is expected to reach 10 gigawatts, representing a market opportunity of at least $10 billion to 2020, with solar rooftops in the UAE reaching 2.5 gigawatts and a $3 billion opportunity, the experts stated.
With the UAE aiming for 10 per cent of power generated by renewables by 2030, according to Irena, Dewa is furthering the UAE’s solar sector through the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the world’s largest single-site solar project at 5 GW by 2030.
"Dubai Clean Energy Strategy aims to provide seven per cent of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020, 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050," stated Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, the managing director and chief executive of Dewa.
"The shift towards using clean and renewable energy sources has many benefits for the environment, economy, and natural resources. For example, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will help achieve a reduction of over 6.5 million tons of carbon emissions, and support the green initiatives and programs implemented by the Government of Dubai to reduce carbon emissions," he noted.
The Dubai utility had launched the Shams Dubai scheme under which PV panels installed on rooftops of buildings are connected to the grid and then the surplus electricity is exported to Dewa’s grid.
“At the World Future Energy Summit we will showcase these innovations, along with best practices in supporting innovation in the energy sector through research and development,” stated Al Tayer.
Dewa will also be unveiling its major plan to make 30,000 buildings energy efficient by 2030, install a million smart meters by 2020, and deploy electric vehicle charging stations throughout Dubai with its Green Charger program.
Supporting new business opportunities and innovation in the region’s solar market is the WFES Solar Expo, where more than 150 solar exhibitors will interact with innovators, project developers, and buyers to experience the latest solar innovations, learn about solar trends, and network with solar experts at the WFES conference.
WFES Solar Expo will also include key players such as Abdul Latif Jameel, ADC Energy Systems, Alec Energy, Amana, EFG Hermes, Renewable Energy Company (REC), SkyPower, SolarWorld, Suntech Power, and Yingli Solar.
"In the Mena region, solar rooftops have gone from a niche environmental market to a game-changer with high potential for homes, offices, or mega-projects, and can pay for themselves after only four years," said Dr Raed Bkayrat, the research director at Middle East Solar Industry Association, and VP of Business Development – Middle East, First Solar.
“However, for widespread solar rooftop adoption, landlords must understand the concept, governments need to provide regulations and incentives to support landlords, and banks need to be able to find innovative ways to finance solar rooftops,” he added.