Solar and the chocolate factory

Sep 27, 2019 01:57 PM ET
  • The latest 7 MW of net metered solar capacity in Dubai indicates 11 MW were added across ten new arrays in just nine days as the Shams initiative continues to work up a head of steam.
Solar and the chocolate factory
Image: stevepb/Pixabay
The exponential rate at which Dubai’s Shams net metering program is driving new solar capacity has again been emphasized by an announcement made by the head of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) yesterday.

Chief executive and MD of the utility, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, was attending a ceremony to mark the opening of what is claimed to be the UAE’s largest private ground-mounted solar project, at the Al Maha factory in Dubai owned by chocolate maker Nestlé’s Middle Eastern business.

A press release issued by Nestlé to promote the 20,000-panel Al Maha installation quoted the DEWA chief as giving an update on the progress of the net metering initiative.

“Shams Dubai has achieved remarkable success since its launch in 2014, with 1,348 solar systems connected to the electricity grid so far, with a total [generation] capacity of 117 MW,” said Al Tayer.

11 MW in nine days

Only ten days ago DEWA had announced the Shams program had driven arrays on 1,338 rooftops, for a cumulative capacity of 106 MW, indicating a further ten systems had arrived in the intervening nine days, bringing with them 11 MW more capacity.

The Nestlé installations, which total 28,000 solar panels across three production sites, are likely to have accounted for the majority of the latest figure but yesterday’s update nevertheless demonstrated how fast Shams arrays are being installed.

In June 2018, DEWA said net metered installations added up to 63 MW of solar capacity and two months later the authority announced it had received Shams requests for 323 MW of PV capacity.

Dubai is aiming to source 7% of its electricity from renewables by next year.

In yesterday’s press release, Swiss giant Nestlé claimed a third of its 413 global factories already run entirely on renewable energy. The chocolate multinational had announced in December 2017 its intent to install three solar arrays adding up to 7 MW of capacity in Dubai, stating at the time that it expected them to be operational last year.

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