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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Exclusive: Dubai's Super Esco eyes Dh500m worth of energy savings by 2030

The nascent regional industry is slated to take off on the back of big investments by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund in its domestic sector

Etihad Esco chief executive Ali Al Jassim says Dubai-based energy services companies are seeking a greater role in the Saudi market. Pawan Singh / The National
Etihad Esco chief executive Ali Al Jassim says Dubai-based energy services companies are seeking a greater role in the Saudi market. Pawan Singh / The National

Etihad Esco, the Dubai-based energy efficiency regulator is looking to execute multibillion dollar worth of projects that will generate Dh500 million worth of energy savings from retrofitting and solar rooftop deployment by 2030.

“Our pipeline of projects is more than Dh400m, so we’re talking to clients for projects worth Dh400-450m for next year and the year after,” Ali Al Jassim, chief executive at Etihad Esco told The National in an interview.

The energy efficiency venture by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has 70 projects in the pipeline, which include possible new ventures outside the emirate, including industrial and residential retrofitting in Abu Dhabi, he added.

Launched in 2013, Etihad Esco, which is known as a Super Esco for its role as an accreditor and regulator of firms engaged in the sector, is targeting energy savings of 20 per cent by 2021 and 30 per cent by 2030. The initial targets have already been exceeded with an internal review in place to develop newer targets, said Mr Al Jassim.

“If you break that target into percentages, we are between 25 to 35 per cent. We had a target of 2000 villas or facilities per year and we have done 2500 in 2016 and 2017,” he said. “The targets are being revisited by a consultant and if they have to be increased, they will be.”

Energy efficiency, which has gained currency in the UAE following raised power tariffs and consumer awareness is being adopted across various emirates, with Ras Al Khaimah currently developing its own targets. Sharjah has also implemented large-scale solar rooftop programmes under the umbrella of its utilities regulator, while Abu Dhabi, which had established a Super Esco has mulled retrofitting its street lamps.

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Etihad Esco, the oldest such operator in the UAE is currently consulting with Ras Al Khaimah’s green buildings regulator and is also developing and bidding on projects in Abu Dhabi.

The firm signed an agreement in June to retrofit two industrial facilities - Gypsemna and Porcellan with Abu Dhabi-based Jamal Al Ghurair Group. It is currently in discussions to possibly develop two others - a large-scale laundry facility as well as a private residential development, said Mr Al Jassim.

Energy efficiency has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar industry in the GCC, with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund kickstarting the country’s programme, by investing in developing its own Super Esco.

Etihad Esco is currently working with the 20-odd companies registered in the emirate as they prepare to penetrate the nascent Saudi market, which has set aside a target of generating 40,000 Gigawatt hours of energy savings this year alone.

“We are looking at the possibility of having projects in Saudi Arabia. Some of the Escos that are working with us have opened branches [there]. They hope that we will be in Saudi Arabia one day and they can partner with us based on similar experiences in the UAE, “ he added.

In Dubai, the Esco is working on Dh220m worth of contracts this year alone, including retrofitting the Dubai Airport alongside German industrial firm Siemens in a deal estimated to be worth Dh100m.

"We are helping them generate savings of up to 30 per cent every year and they get approximately close to Dh30m savings annually,” he added.

The Dubai Airport project, which is set to finish in June 2019 is currently at 10 per cent completion.

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