x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai releases maiden report on energy sector

Dubai yesterday released its first report on the emirate’s energy sector as it prepares to open its flagship solar-energy park.

Dubai yesterday released its first report on the emirate’s energy sector as it prepares to open its flagship solar-energy park.

The “State of Energy” report – a 200-page document summarising Dubai’s plans in areas such as renewables, transportation and energy efficiency – was compiled by the United Nations Development Programme and the Supreme Council of Energy, Dubai’s top energy policymaking body.

It includes contributions from Adnan Amin, the director-general of the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency, and Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, the chief executive of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.

In the report, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, wrote: “The report also provides experts, professionals and decision-makers in both the public and private sectors with a stimulus to achieve the objectives of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030.

“Most importantly, this report sets criteria for international best practices related to sustainable energy in the UAE and the entire world.”

The UNDP is considering replicating the Dubai report with other governments in the region, according to Paolo Lembo, a resident coordinator for the UN.

The report comes as Dubai prepares today to inaugurate its first large-scale solar power plant, the 13-megawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. Commissioning work began last month.

The emirate plans to launch a tender for a second photovoltaic power plant on a larger scale – 100MW, the same as Abu Dhabi’s Shams 1 project – according to Mr Al Tayer.

Shams 1 relies on solar thermal technology, which uses heat from the sun to power turbines, rather than directly converting sunlight into electricity, as in photovoltaic technology.

The cost of photovoltaic solar panels has fallen dramatically in recent years, making it more popular among developers in the region, but squeezing solar panel factories in China and in the West.

It is unclear whether Dubai would rely on financing for the second plant or pay for it in cash as it did with the first.

Meanwhile, solar energy developers and financiers have become impatient for Gulf governments to allow more opportunities for private investment in the sector – essentially, applying the same strategies in financing fossil-fuelled power plants for clean energy.

The independent power project model, in which the government agrees to buy power from a private producer, has the potential to accelerate solar energy usage across the region, according to executives at a solar finance workshop hosted by the Clean Energy Business Council yesterday in Dubai.

“The reason we’re located here is because we see huge potential,” said Jeremy Crane, the chief operating officer of Adenium Energy Capital, an investor. “We’re very bullish on the solar IPP model.”

While Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi have grabbed headlines with ambitious energy targets, Oman could be a promising for private investors in renewable power plants.

“The asset class of solar is not well understood here,” Mr Crane said. “We spend a lot of time making parallels to real estate or highways.”

ayee@thenational.ae