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Dubai solar plan a boon for specialist contractors

Opportunities abound for contractors as the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy aims to provide 7 per cent of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020 and increase this target to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050

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Contractors eye big opportunities
Contractors eye big opportunities

Specialist contractors look set to be big winners from Dubai’s plans to put solar panels on to the roofs of about 115,000 buildings over the next 15 years.

Vahid Fotuhi, founder of the Middle East Solar Industry Association (Mesia), said that there was currently only a handful of contractors operating in the city that were qualified to install rooftop solar panels.

“The biggest spike won’t just be in the panels, but in the contractors because they do not really exist yet,” he said.

Claudio Palmieri, the chief executive of Dubai-based CLS Energy Consultants, said that increasing numbers of companies would depend on the framework established by the Dubai Government, reported The National.

“If there’s a market, then you’ll get an industry developing around the market,” he said.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) value for the rooftop applications could add up to about 1,500 megawatts in total, according to Mr Palmieri. Based on the current market rate of US$1.30 per peak watt, the emirate’s EPC value for rooftop applications would be about $2 billion.

Foreign solar manufacturers are also expected to increasingly target the emirate, which does not impose customs duties on panel imports.

“If there are no custom duties, then the UAE will never be able to compete with China,” said Mr Palmieri.

Seven out of the top 10 solar photovoltaic (PV) companies are Chinese firms, making up half of the market share, according to the UK-based industry analysis firm IHS.

However, none of these companies has yet been able to grab a sizeable chunk of the solar market in the UAE.
“There is a massive opportunity and financing will be critical,” said Mr Fotuhi.

“Building owners will look at major capital investments and may not have the upfront cash, so the government soft loans will be crucial to the success of this programme.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Saturday launched the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to make the emirate a global centre of green energy.

While inaugurating the second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, he revealed plans for a new free zone called the Dubai Green Zone.

The zone would be aimed at attracting research and development centres and emerging companies in clean energy.

The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy aims to provide 7 per cent of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020. It will increase this target to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.

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