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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

High property management fees 'deterring UAE residents' switch to solar'

Green economy head says property management companies create 'barriers to further social development' by charging large fees to install solar power kits

Ivano Iannelli at the Dubai Carbon stand at WETEX 2018, held at Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National 
Ivano Iannelli at the Dubai Carbon stand at WETEX 2018, held at Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National 

The head of a Dubai company that seeks to enable the green economy has called for gated communities to stop charging high fees for the installation of home solar energy kits.

Ivano Iannelli, chief executive of Dubai Carbon, a body that was set up to promote the low carbon and green economies, said residents are being put off from investing in solar energy kits because property management companies are charging installation fees of as much as Dh5,000.

Speaking to The National on the opening day of the Water, Energy and Technology Exhibition at Dubai’s World Trade Centre, Mr Iannelli said this poses a challenge to encouraging people to invest in solar.

“The number of people in Dubai embracing solar energy kits is lower than we thought it would be,” he said.

“It is not because of the accessibility of the technology or the cost of it. The biggest challenge we face is with the management companies who look after gated communities. In one case, they even charged a Dh5,000 installation fee for each solar energy kit.”

This extra cost, he said, makes it difficult when they are trying to combat the perception that solar panels are too expensive to afford.

The kits themselves cost between Dh20,000 and Dh28,000, and Mr Iannelli said that a family living in a villa can expect a return on their investment after about four-and-a-half years.

Power that is supplied to the grid from the solar equipment that is not used is rolled over to the next billing cycle. Mr Iannelli said this helps to contribute to an average saving of 20 per cent each month for solar power users.

“But by charging an installation fee the management companies of the gated communities are creating barriers to further social development.”

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The other reason people often cite for not switching to solar, said Mr Iannelli, is that they are reluctant to purchase solar power kits because they only plan to stay in the UAE for a short time. This means they would not see the return on investment.

“The biggest question we are always asked is: ‘what if I move?’” he said.

“It’s an appliance. You can pack the unit up and take it with you, just like you would with any of your other appliances.”

He said that energy consumption in the region is not something that has the same level of public awareness as waste disposal but is no less important.

“Our resources are really, really precious. We need to invest in educating ourselves to use less,” he said.