Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dubai initiatives encourage solar energy use

New initiatives currently under study at the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy aim to expand the use of solar energy across the emirate in private and commercial establishments.
They come as part of Dubai's Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, which plans to diversify energy sources by bringing the energy source mix for electricity generation in the emirate to 5% solar energy, 12% nuclear energy, 12% clean coal and 71% natural gas by 2030.
The initiatives under study are derived from the successful experiences of other countries in this arena, council vice chairman Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer told Al-Shorfa.
They "aim to encourage the expansion [of solar power] use in homes, and include recommendations for equipping homes with two meters, one that tracks consumption and another that allows for the sale and export of surplus solar energy via the council's grid", he said.
They also seek to encourage consumers to install solar panels in their homes and businesses and rationalise power consumption, he said.
"Increasing the proportion [of solar power in the energy mix] will be studied in the future within the strategy in the event the cost of raw materials, and accordingly that of solar power production, drops to an appropriate level," he said.
The green initiatives under study include giving building owners economic incentives to use solar power, said council member and Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence (DCCE) chairman Waleed Salman.
Building owners would be given "carbon certificates" -- vouchers that carry a market value -- which would be calculated based on how much they are able to reduce carbon emissions by converting to solar power, he said.
"DCCE is working with the Ministry of Environment to help spread the use of solar-powered water heaters, which falls in line with DCCE's carbon emission reduction plans," Salman said. "The move to the use of carbon certificates paves the way for the future establishment of a sort of a carbon certificate exchange."
The high cost of solar panels used to be an obstacle to their wider use in the Gulf, despite the year-round abundance of sunlight, said Ahmed Abdel Fattah al-Nsour, a sales executive with Trina Solar, a company that produces and sells solar panels.
"Panel prices, however, dropped by around 10% in Middle East markets in the first quarter of this year," he said. "This could boost the Dubai government's plans to spread the use of solar panels on a wider scale, especially if the price of panels continues to drop."
Efforts to diversify Dubai's energy sources already under way include the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, a $3.3 billion project with a projected total operational capacity of 1,000 megawatts.