UAE and Germany prepare for MENA solar boom

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UAE in talks with Germany to help deploy renewable energy systems

UAE and Germany prepare for MENA solar boom
UAE and Germany prepare for MENA solar boom

The UAE and Germany has entered into a dialogue to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in light of recent solar cost breakthroughs. The inaugural meeting, held with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, gathered government leaders, and utility executives to review the economic case and regulatory requirements for distributed generation.

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Germany has famously pioneered non-utility-owned renewable energy at scale, which is now set for take-off in the UAE.

“It is a new era for renewable energy across the world, not least in the UAE,” said Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE’s Minister of Energy.

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“With the world’s lowest solar PV bid results and new regulations deployed this winter, we expect a fast increase in solar installations, from private industry and large building owners and home owners. This new strategic dialogue with Germany provides a critical reference point in managing this wave of deployment.”

Latest report from IRENA has revealed that renewable power costs are plummeting, and many sources now cheaper than fossil fuels worldwide.

SEE ALSO: $32.7bn worth projects to boost Middle East ‘renewable energy hub’ status

Electricity in the UAE can now in many cases be produced cheaper through solar PV than natural gas-fired generation. Solar’s financial attractiveness occurs simultaneously with new regulations in the UAE that, for the first time, allow consumers to produce their own solar power and feed into the UAE utilities’ grids. Commercial building owners and energy-intensive industries are expected to be the first movers, installing PV on their rooftops or lots where they can achieve economies of scale. In the Northern Emirates, many industrial companies could be expected to meet their own growth requirements through on-site generation complementing centralized expansion of power.

In Germany, distributed solar power has long become a core part of the energy mix.

“Solar PV can meet major shares of the power demand in Germany, on some days nearly 40% – imagine the potential in the UAE,” said Rainer Baacke, Germany’s State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Energy.

“Distributed generation has been a key piece of our energy transition, involving all levels of society and mobilizing private investment. UAE consumers are now ready to inexpensively leverage solar, and set a pioneering example for the Middle East.” Through its Energiewende (energy transformation), Germany has achieved more than 27% renewable energy electricity consumption. Solar PV installations alone have jumped from 1 GW in 2004 to 35.7 GW today.

Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Permanent Representative to IRENA and Director for Energy and Climate Change at the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “we build on our international relations to share experiences in renewables – and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is happy to see UAE stakeholders from all emirates participate to hear about the German experience and share their own plans. At the end of the day, we need to find a framework that works for the UAE, and strategic dialogue is important nationally and internationally”.

The ministerial dialogue was also attended by International Renewable Energy Agency Director-General, Mr. Adnan Z. Amin, who welcomed the cooperation between the countries. “Germany and the UAE are trendsetters in the global renewable energy industry,” said Amin.

“Germany’s Energiewende rewrote the rules for deployment, and there is great interest in how the UAE moves forward on its vision. The Middle East has both the natural solar resource potential and the cost advantage to go big on solar, and success in the UAE will catalyze action in the regional market.” The next UAE-German strategic dialogue on renewables will take place in Germany before September with a senior UAE delegation from federal and emirate level entities.

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