Last week we delved into the U.A.E’s primary renewable energy market, solar power, at the InterSolar Middle East conference in Dubai. Here are some short highlights of what we learnt from the conference, and what we loved about sharing our electric vehicles and sustainable living vision with the wide ranging audience who attended.
What we learnt at the InterSolar Middle East conference
1. The U.A.E plans to lead the way in solar energy!
The InterSolar conference opened with HE Dr. Matar Al Neyadi, the undersecretary to the Minister of Energy, stating that the United Arab Emirates intends to show the world how it’s done in seizing their next biggest asset – the sun – with a need to diversify the energy sector, whilst making use of its affordability and sustainability. This set the tone for the three day conference as speakers excitedly followed suit in explaining how the solar industry is on the brink of taking off in the United Arab Emirates, and of course with the government’s support the challenges are but mere hurdles the country will leap straight over. The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Energy Efficiency Round Table panel explored the potential for further work to be done on government policy in terms of subsidising and incentivising energy efficiency, as well as playing a stronger role in the raising of awareness and knowledge of these new technologies.
Nonetheless, the positive intentions are strongly apparent, with Dubai Municipality having a policy to become the most environmentally sustainable (and happiest!) city in the world, with one of the main themes of Expo 2020 being sustainability. There was an inspiring spotlight on the Shams Dubai project, which is the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) initiative to encourage a move to sustainable energy through solar. This includes the encouragement of building owners to install solar panels that could reduce their electricity bills by contributing to the grid, with an an aim for solar panels to be built on all buildings in Dubai by 2030! The Dubai Municipality will also support this transition by installing 30,000 retrofits, allowing buildings to run off solar generated electricity.
So if all goes to plan, the Emirates will soon be very much powered by the sun. Watch out California, there may be a new ‘sunshine state’!
2. Solar energy is cheap!
One of the biggest arguments against renewable energies for years has been that it’s not yet affordable. Finally, this is no longer the case! In fact, solar energy has been low in cost for some time, a fact echoed by almost every speaker who took to the floor. In the U.A.E the average price of solar power is now as low as $0.0584 per kilowatt hour, whereas equivalent gas fired is around $0.08! A new record for the world’s cheapest ever solar power, completely undercutting coal, was even set in the Emirates on 19th September this year as developers bid on a new solar park putting a price of just $0.0242 per kilowatt hour on their energy! This of course raises questions on whether any profit can be made, but it paints a positive picture for the future of the market.
There were also predictions of electricity prices rising very soon in the country, since there hasn’t been a price hike since 2011. This would of course accelerate solar even further to becoming a true competitor in the energy market – an exciting prospect!
3. Converting solar to electricity is extremely efficient
Perhaps this is stating the obvious a little, but it needs to be discussed and fully understood by everyone if solar power is to be fully embraced. The nature of converting solar power to electricity is so simple that it doesn’t even have to go via the grid. Of course, you can have solar panels on your house, on public buildings, as phone chargers, and soon on cars too. Power put, quite literally, into your own hands - it does not get more efficient than that!
4. We need more solar storage, not energy power stations
We were excited to hear the brilliant Ben Hill of Tesla speak on energy storage, (he even gave a shout out to our Global EVRT stand with two Tesla electric cars – thanks Ben!) One of the main challenges of solar energy that was mentioned throughout the conference was electricity storage systems. Storage means that no energy generated is wasted if it’s not needed in that precise moment, and it would therefore allow solar to meet the energy demand during peak times by using the stored power. The technology for these batteries is already in use but it is still expensive and in some places is still being developed and refined to fit the variety of electrical grids worldwide. However, as Ben, and the many other speakers of the week pointed out, the technology is improving rapidly, and we need to continue to invest in it now, for the future, rather than building more non-renewable polluting power stations just to meet our peak time energy needs. This also raises the issue of our society’s high energy consumption that desperately needs to be addressed, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day!
5. The electric vehicle market continues to accelerate in the U.A.E!
It was great to see Renault speak at the InterSolar conference, giving EV’s a spotlight at that completed the circuit in understanding just what solar can power via the grid. Renault were the first car manufacturers to bring electric vehicles to the U.A.E with the Zoe and Twizzy. Whilst we are concerned about the image the Twizy gives to electric vehicles we do recognise its appeal, being used internationally from the police of Valencia to Sustainable City here in the U.A.E. The Renault Zoe, however, we love! It is one of the top selling electric vehicles worldwide, being one of the first to market, one of the most affordable, and having a recently increased range to 240km when fully charged! (In fact, one week after InterSolar ME, during the Paris Motor Show, Renault announced that the new model to be released will have a range of 400km). Renault declared their intention to continue to lead the electric vehicle market in the U.A.E, and with a surprising amount of Tesla cars on the roads of the Emirates, despite there being no Tesla dealerships in the country, the EV market is very much on the rise in the United Arab Emirates!
What we found exhibiting the EVRT:
You love electric vehicles!
Of course you do, we knew this already, but boy were we still impressed by the flood of people to our stand to see our two Tesla electric cars. It was fantastic to see eager faces of all backgrounds and ages ready to learn about the Tesla’s high spec that surpasses most polluting cars on the market, and we were inundated with questions throughout the week as people relaxed back in the cars’ comfy seats and explored the built in computers, picking their favourite tunes on Spotify. It always feels quite special to showcase EVs.
Naturally, one of our most asked question at InterSolar was “so where are the solar panels?” While there are some electric cars in the world that have solar panels built in, the mass market has not included this technology in its designs. There are already, however, EV charging stations with solar panels, but the near future of EVs and solar is most likely to run via the grid.
You loved hearing...
- How this technology fits into your daily lives
- That the speed, comfort and style surpasses petrol-fuelled cars
- There really is no engine! That’s extra storage space beneath the bonnet
As we shared with those visiting our stand last week, EV’s are not the cars of the future, they’re the technology of today! We are now counting down the days to our Emirates Electric Vehicle Road Trip in January to show the world just what clean green energy is capable of. See you there!
Check out the photos from the event below.