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Dubai residents a step closer to generating and selling own power

Solar and wind may now be the cheapest sources of new energy supply in the UAE. (File)

By Vicky Kapur

There’s good news for Dubai residents waiting to generate their own solar power and even sell it to the emirate’s utility body if they manage to generate a surplus.

For the uninitiated, Dubai is getting ready to join a small but growing number of global cities whose residents are empowered to not only generate solar power for their own consumption, but can also sell the electricity to state distribution companies for other people on the grid.

The groundwork for this was laid last year when a government resolution was issued, allowing residents to install solar panels on the rooftops of their homes and buildings in order to generate electricity from solar power, and connect them to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (Dewa) grid.

According to Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dewa, “an offset between exported and imported electricity units is conducted and the customer account is settled based on this offset.”

In other words, customers who consume more and produce less will need to pay Dewa for the utility’s electricity units they consume whereas those that produce more power than they consume will have their accounts credited with positive units.

Dewa hasn’t yet shared details of whether it plans to make actual cash payments to those generating excess power or whether it will ‘offset’ the residents’ other payments (water, etc.) with the positive credits, but those details will perhaps become known closer to implementation of the project.

As of now, Dewa on Tuesday announced that it has signed a contract with international consultancy Cesi Middle East, a firm that is working with Dewa in its initiative to encourage households and building owners to install photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity.

The electricity thus generated is used on site and the surplus is exported to Dewa’s network. This encourages the use of renewable energy and increases its share in the energy mix, Dewa noted. The Dubai utility says its agreement with Cesi Middle East supports the latest initiative to install photovoltaic (PV) panels in houses and buildings to generate electricity and connect it to Dewa’s grid.

Cesi ME will work with the utility’s transmission operation department to ensure the readiness of Dubai’s transmission and distribution network for the rise in renewable energy, according to the highest international standards and best practices.

The contract supports Dewa’s efforts to enhance transmission and distribution networks to be compatible with the expansion of renewable-energy within the energy mix, which Dewa recently announced.

The international consultancy will also provide training for Dewa’s engineers, and propose improvements in operation policies and protocols to improve availability and reliability, and incorporate new tools and applications to improve transmission systems operation management, Dewa said in a statement.

“Dewa has developed plans and programmes to improve the operational efficiency of transmission and distribution networks. We are glad to work with Cesi to ensure that the network is ready for the increase of renewable energy in Dubai’s energy mix, and to provide training for Dewa’s engineers,” said Al Tayer.

“We aim to maximise Dewa’s in-house ability leveraging our established network of skilled professionals. This will ensure that Dewa’s integration of energy practices best support the nation’s green agenda,” said Matteo Codazzi, CEO of Cesi.

“Last month, we increased the percentage of renewable energy to 7 per cent by 2020, and 15 per cent by 2030. This, coupled with our initiative to allow customers to install PV panels to produce electricity in buildings, requires incorporating new technologies into the network to guarantee that it copes with the increased renewable energy target,” added Al Tayer.

“Cesi is honoured to assist Dewa in maximising the potential of its power grid and contributing to the success of Dubai’s Energy Strategy,” said Dr. Floris Hendrikus Schulze, managing director, Cesi Middle East. 

“Dewa has achieved global competitive results in efficiency and reliability, surpassing leading European and American companies by reducing losses in power transmission and distribution networks to 3.46 per cent, compared to 6-7 per cent in Europe and the US. Dewa’s results are among the best internationally for customer minutes lost per year. Dewa’s figures reached 4.9 minutes in 2014, compared to 15 minutes recorded by leading utilities in the European Union,” concluded Al Tayer.