WFES Review

UME speaks to the exhibitors at this year's WFES in Abu Dhabi

The event saw numerous announcements of new projects and products.
The event saw numerous announcements of new projects and products.

As regional renewable energy investments picks up pace, Abu Dhabi’s World Future Energy Summit and International Water Summit was the only place to be to hear from the industry about the current state of the market.

UME spoke to the exhibitors to hear about the latest technological developments and the prospects for renewables and the water industry over 2013 and beyond

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Please introduce your firm
Soitec is a company devoted to high-tech material for the semiconductor industry. We are in nanoelectronics and we decided to enter into new sectors where semiconductors could play a major role in energy, through CPV technology, which is two to three times more efficient than the solar PV that you’ve seen in the past.

It’s an innovative technology. We have built two large factories in the last year, we are the number three in terms of size in the United States and this technology will be installed through a pipeline we have built.

What is CPV and where can it be used?
CPV is made for large-scale utilities – big solar farms, rather than top of the roof systems for example – and in places where the sun is strong, because that is where efficiency makes sense.

So we are focusing on large-scale utilities in the sun-belt - our systems are in the regions where the sun irradiance is very strong, because we think in order to make a strong contribution to the mix from solar energy you need to go where the sun is very powerful, you need to go large-scale and you need to go high-efficiency. Our technology is very efficient. We go up to 40% at the semiconductor level, so that’s where we have made a change in the overall offerings and that’s why we see solar moving to large-scale, brownfield solar farms.

Tell us about what you are presenting at WFES this year
Our business is to do very large-scale projects, but our product can be very flexible, so we have introduced a new concept, which is Plug&Sun.

It’s very portable, it’s very mobile and it’s fully integrated with storage and the ability to manage energy for a small village. We have launched this product through foundations – 1.4 billion people around the world have no access to the grid, so this is an off-grid solution that is made to go on the back of a truck to be fixed
up quickly.

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Tell us about your company
We are the largest private clean energy company in China. We have about 6GW in total installed, with most being hydropower. We started our solar business in 2009, so we’re a newcomer in this field. Now we have the capacity in PV of about 3GW - this is the biggest thin-film capacity in the world.

Why are you exhibiting this week?
This is our first time in the Middle East. What we want to do is expand our markets. We have five regional companies – in China, in Europe, in the United States, in Asia-Pacific and the last is Middle East and Africa.

We have done projects in all of the others, but nothing in the Middle East. On this trip, we have visited Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and we have had contact with some companies, some government departments and even some investors.

I think for this time, our main purpose is to get as much information as possible, and then we want to do something in this area.

Do you see the Middle East as a big potential market then?
Yes, you know Saudi announced a very big plan – 41GW of solar. It’s over about twenty years, but it’s a very big plan. Dubai has also announced 1GW over several years. We have also had discussions with ADWEA, and with KACARE – we’ve looked at some projects with them.

What does your technology offer over competitors' products?
We find that in Asia and also in some areas like Africa and the Middle East, the temperature, the humidity and the climatic conditions, are most suitable for thin-film. We just visited Masdar City where they have been testing different solar panels.

They have found that some panels have not been efficient enough - silicon panels don’t have a good performance in this area because of the high temperature and direct sunshine, so our thin-film has an advantage.

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Please introduce your company
Xylem is a one year old company, with a hundred year history. A year ago we spun off from ITT Corporation, and Xylem was created out of all the water-focused assets of that company, so we’re entirely concentrated on water. We look at virtually all aspects of the water cycle, which we look at from two perspectives. One is water infrastructure – so technologies that are core to municipal water and wastewater infrastructure. And the other half is applied water – so once water has been cleaned, how is it used in the world.

Tell us about some of your technology here at WFES
We go to market under a number of brands. Our largest brand is Flygt, which is our core pumping business for wastewater pumping. We have a new release on the stand which is called Flygt Experia which is a significant advance on wastewater pumping technology.

We are also showcasing our treatment capabilities, so we’ve got a new UV system that we are launching at the show under our Wedeco brand. In addition, in water re-use and treatment, we have secondary and tertiary treatments as well as filtration.

What marks you out from the competition?
We are 12,000 employees around the world, serving customers in 150 countries, through a largely direct sales force. What differentiates us is our focus on putting out people close to customers – water in our opinion is a local challenge and you have to understand the local needs. Obviously we also benefit from a global technology platform and being a global business to bring solutions to these local problems.

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Schneider Electric

How do you describe what Schneider Electric does?
We are a company specialised in providing savings to customers. Our promise to our five end-user segments is the same to all – to do more whilst using less. It’s a big promise.

Sometimes I describe the company by what we are not doing – we are not producing energy, we are not making plants or products that consume energy, but we do everything else in between. So making the energy safe, productive, efficient and green. We operate in more than a hundred countries and the total turnover now is above 22 billion Euros.

What are you presenting at WFES?
We’re returning to WFES, because we are very focused as a company, and we are quite stubborn in our strategy and vision. The Middle East is a big region for us in terms of energy, in terms of oil and gas. Here, we target utilities and oil and gas – these are priority segments. We are providing solutions for utilities, for oil and gas companies, also for municipalities – for example reducing power consumption and reducing losses in water and electrical systems. We made the control system for KAHRAMAA in Qatar, and supplied leak detection systems that reduced their losses in their network from 60% to below 20%.

And you also work with smart grids?
As part of our smart city approach, we think that one of the building blocks is energy efficiency and we’ve participated in a number of projects related to that. For example, we’ve concluded a study with Abu Dhabi municipality, in partnership with Masdar, for a small district of Abu Dhabi. Basically we did a full study, ranging from air conditioning to chiller control, building systems; and it was a first of its kind in the Middle East region.

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Please introduce your firm
CESI is an independent power consultant, active in three fields – testing and certification, consultancy services and environmental services. We have been established since the 1950s, for low, medium and high voltage testing certification. An important aspect of our firm is the independence – there are a number of shareholders and none holds a majority of the shares.

We established our office last year in Dubai. I call it our regional headquarters already because this is the first step, and we want to immediately move on to open other offices – first in Saudi Arabia - as recent project awards have focused there.

Tell us about some of the projects you’re working on
We have the Arab Fund project, which relates to a pan-Arabic energy market. This is interesting because all the Arab countries – almost – are involved. The purpose is to establish a kind of pan-Arabic energy market.

It’s a feasibility study – technical and economical – to come up with a mutual market that will ensure and enable energy exchange and trade between the countries. Of course, you have to look at technicalities such as the different infrastructure and the different energy policies that exist at the moment.

And you have a smart grid project in Saudi Arabia?
The regulator in Saudi Arabia awarded us a project to look at a roadmap for smart grids and smart metering. There are many developments in smart metering, but the interesting part is that they are trying to align all the developments that are already in the Kingdom into one mutually agreed roadmap for smart grids. I think it’s really promising, as it’s quite unique to have a nationwide approach to smart grids and smart metering.

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Tell us about Siemens’ work with smart grids
The Infrastructure and Cities sector covers rail, mobility in general – traffic for example, smart grids, building technology and low and medium voltage. Smart grids for us is translated mainly into energy automation – so, for example, with a substation you need a control system.

Another area is metering – not as meters as a product, but focusing on the software. That is actually where the intelligence is required, and we are introducing this now in the region. We have a very important pilot project in Qatar, which involves 30,000 meters – 15,000 electricity and 15,000 water.

Within an area of Doha, we basically put in new meters and commission it with the software, which can also be used to optimise energy consumption by analysing consumer trends with in return gives utilities a better idea of how to operate the network.

What is the market for smart grids in the region then?
It’s huge. We are facing here a utility mindset which is different throughout the countries of the region. In Qatar, the government is very much pushing into new technologies, so they are more open than others. Saudi Arabia is open to the concept, though there is no pilot yet, so it’s another reason why we are quite happy with our Qatar pilot. The region looks at each other, and it’s very important to have a pilot that goes well which will have an effect for others to follow.


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