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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Tesla enters region's solar sector in another first

Enerwhere Sustainable Energy, based in the Dubai, is using the firm's lithium ion battery to supplement solar power

A Dubai-based firm is using the US electric car maker's battery in addition to its solar facility. Darren Staples/Reuters
A Dubai-based firm is using the US electric car maker's battery in addition to its solar facility. Darren Staples/Reuters

Tesla has entered into the region’s solar market for the first time in Dubai, opening up a new avenue for the car maker.

After launching its showroom in Dubai earlier this year, the company headed by Elon Musk has widely been known for its electric vehicles (EVs). However, Tesla has been one of the front runners for lithium ion batteries - a technology that has propelled the EV market.

As well as powering a vehicle, such batteries can also be used to help to supplement solar energy for times when the sun is not shining.

Lithium ion power packs are now running alongside a hybrid generator system in Dubai International Financial Centre. Dubai-based energy solution provider, Enerwhere Sustainable Energy, based in the emirate, is using the battery in addition to biodiesel to supplement the solar power to ensure all-day electricity is covered without the use of diesel.

“Most construction sites in the UAE are powered by diesel generators, which are the dirtiest and most expensive form of power generation," said Daniel Zywietz, the chief executive of Enerwhere. "Additionally, with the high temperatures and humidity in the UAE, conventional engines sometimes break down." That can result in complete shutdown as a backup generator can take about 20 seconds to kick in.

“In an office full of computers this could be a major issue, as dozens of people will lose their work,” Mr Zywietz said.

The lease-based solar hybrid system is used at the Australian firm Multiplex’s construction site at ICD Brookfield Place and sources 40 kilowatts per hour (kWh) of solar power during the day and then switches to the battery system at night. “If there is not enough power available from solar and battery, the site’s diesel generators will run on biodiesel as a back-up,” Mr Zywietz said.

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The lease-based solar hybrid system is used at the Australian firm Multiplex’s construction site in ICD Brookfield Place and sources 40 kilowatts per hour of solar power during the day and then switches to the battery system at night.

“If there is not enough power available from solar and battery, the site’s diesel generators will run on biodiesel as a back-up,” Mr Zywietz said.

The Enerwhere project is the first of its kind in the region, paving the way for a new market for lithium ion batteries beyond the EV sector into solar, for use in both small and large sites.

Siddiq Farid, an independent energy storage consultant, said Tesla would shift to energy rather than maintaining its car manufacturer status.

“Tesla will evolve into an energy company because that’s just where the market is heading,” he said.

Florian Mayr, a partner at the clean-tech advisory firm Apricum, said energy storage is expected to increase globally, while the price of batteries such as Tesla’s will more than halve by 2025.

The energy storage sector in the Mena region will expand, driven by renewable energy power projects.

“With the [price of solar photovoltaic power] in Dubai at less than 3 US cents, it’s possible to add energy storage to a solar park and still offer electricity at a competitive price,” Mr Mayr said yesterday at this week’s Intersolar Middle East conference that was held in Dubai.