Solar energy investments to help achieve net zero energy buildings, say experts
The UAE has the right regulatory environment to foster solar energy investments, which will help achieve net zero energy buildings to support the nation’s sustainable development goals, experts said at a Focus Day organised by the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC).
An independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, EmiratesGBC’s Focus Day was held at DEWA’s Sustainable Building in Al Quoz under the theme ‘Powering Innovation: Green Buildings and Energy Management.’
Saeed Al Alabbar, Chairman of EmiratesGBC, said: “Our Focus Day was unanimous in its message that solar investments are economically viable and environmentally imperative. With an encouraging regulatory environment, more businesses are looking at solar investments that will help achieve the renewable energy goals set by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy.”
“The private sector can play a key role in driving solar energy projects, and raising awareness about their long-term value can help overcome barriers in financing energy efficiency retrofits, thus accelerating the sustainable development initiatives,” he added.
Faisal Rashid, Director – Demand Side Energy Management at Dubai Supreme Council Energy, presented the keynote address. A panel discussion on ‘Regulation & Implementation of Renewables’ was addressed by Faisal Rashid; Saeed Al Abbar; Daniel Zywietz, Deputy Chairman, Clean Energy Business Council & CEO of Enerware; Johannes Waimer, Solar Consultant at Premier Solar Technologies; and Elie Matar, Head of Electricity at Regulatory & Supervisory Bureau. The delegates also undertook a tour of DEWA’s Sustainable Building following the discussion.
The Focus Day discussed the various initiatives undertaken by the UAE and Dubai in line with the ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development’ vision launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
The panelists observed that the Shams Dubai initiative that encourages people to install photovoltaic panels on rooftops of buildings to generate electricity and send surplus to DEWA’s grid through net-metering is a key step that underlines the ‘green vision’ of Dubai. The session also discussed the strategies of governmental departments, how they work together and how regulations can further boost retrofitting of buildings.
“Shams Dubai functions as a policy mechanism aimed at driving innovation in the solar PV industry and facilitate the market to adopt renewable solar technology,” said Al Abbar. “The Focus Day therefore evaluated the market state of PV technology in Dubai and how innovation can further be further strengthened in this sector,” he added.
The Focus Day also put the spotlight on UAE’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submission to COP21 which promises to increase clean energy to 24 per cent of the total energy mix by 2021.
The panelists said that “Under the current regulations, savings can be achieved with acceptable payback period for solar investments, and called for updating the regulations based on technology advancements. Regulations not only create the right environment to popularize renewable energy project but also help build market confidence.”
They pointed out that setting up solar panels in industrial rooftops might have lower capital expenditure than setting up a similar facility in the open desert. Further, they underlined that improvements to building envelope improvement such as better insulation and air tightness, and installation of energy efficient systems such as water cooling chillers and adsorption chillers can reduce 50 per cent of the consumption thus reducing the power required on the supply side. In other practical implementations, solar water heaters can replace electrical heaters providing 80 to 90 per cent of the hotel water required.
EmiratesGBC regularly hosts and participates in multinational events, conferences and forums. It has also developed a suite of activities, inclusive of networking events, technical workshops, focus days and facilitated training based around specific issues related to the built-environment that meet the needs of its members, of the UAE community, and the wider Middle East.