x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai Investments in solar cladding panel joint venture

A Dubai company hopes to revolutionise solar panel construction by developing cladding panels for the sides of buildings.

A Dubai company hopes to revolutionise solar panel construction by developing cladding panels for the sides of buildings.

Dubai Investments said yesterday that it had formed Emirates Insolaire, a joint venture with SwissInso, a Swiss technological specialist, to produce solar panels that can be integrated into building cladding.

Investment Corporation of Dubai owns 11.5 per cent of Dubai Investments.

Emirates Insolaire, which Dubai Investments owns 51 per cent, will manufacture the coloured solar glass that can provide 10 per cent of the global solar panel market over the next four or five years.

The new panels use special Kromatix technology, developed with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, that can be integrated seamlessly into the facades of buildings.

They will be initially manufactured by Emirates Glass, a unit of Dubai Investments, which specialises in producing energy-efficient architectural glass.

Production will take place at two Emirates Glass factories in Dubai and one in Saudi Arabia.

“This is a product for the whole world,” said Khalid bin Kalban, Dubai Investments’ chief executive. “This is a paradigm shift in solar-glass technology. Kromatix is a first-of-its kind business model not only in the region but across the entire world.”

Emirates Insolaire said it had signed two deals to provide the panels to Sao Paulo International Airport and to a Singapore housing scheme.

It said its panels cost 5 to 17 per cent more than traditional panels and would have a final cost to developers of about €200 (Dh991) per square metre.

Dubai Investments said the partners would invest another €2 million in Emirates Insolaire over the next 18 months to refine the product and increase manufacturing capacity.

Emirates Insolaire said it was targeting 10 per cent of the global building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) market over the next four to five years. The market is currently worth about US$10 billion a year, and it is growing at an annual rate of 40 per cent.

The firm said the solar panels on a villa of average size could produce enough energy per day for the needs of a family of four to five people.

Vahid Fotuhi, the president of the Middle East Solar Industry Association, said the BIPV market was small but growing.

“There are big plans to use this technology in the 2020 Expo pavilions if Dubai wins the bid,” Mr Fotuhi said. “A number of different companies are making similar panels, but right now they are very rare and specific applications are not commercially viable.”

Dubai Investments, which has about 40 subsidiaries and joint ventures in an array of industries, said it hoped to complete a planned $300m sukuk sale in the next couple of weeks.

The company appointed financial advisers in March to launch the Islamic bond, which it said would be used to pay down bank debts and finance acquisitions. But its plans were delayed as interest rates increased.

lbarnard@thenational.ae