Rooftop solar installations are slowly taking off, with 14 sites in the capital and a further 28 licences under review, Abu Dhabi’s Regulation and Supervision Bureau says. 

Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Rooftop solar installations are slowly taking off, with 14 sites in the capital and a further 28 licences under review, Abu Dhabi’s Regulation and Supervision Bureau says. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The N

Rooftop solar panels slowly taking off in Abu Dhabi



ABU DHABI // Rooftop solar installations are slowly taking off, with 14 sites in the capital and a further 28 licences under review, Abu Dhabi’s Regulation and Supervision Bureau has said.

The bureau said on Sunday that the licence applications now being processed were mostly from schools falling under the Abu Dhabi Education Council.

Of the 14 existing installations that rely on solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, 11 are part of a pilot programme the government started in schools, the Abu Dhabi Judiciary and at Al Ain Zoo. “Together with our sector partners, we have been studying 11 sites around the city of Abu Dhabi with an installed capacity of over two megawatts, which have been producing electricity for over a year, using several different panels,” said Nick Carter, director general of the bureau.

“The results of these small-scale solar power installations have been extremely encouraging, to the point where we expect to see property owners across the emirate wishing to install their own PV panels on their roofs in the next few years.”

In March, the bureau issued wiring regulations allowing private property owners to generate their own electricity through solar power.

Small systems within homes would generally be issued a self-regulating licence. The application is about two pages long and costs about Dh500, with the process taking two months to complete.

Within the process, there is a mandatory period of 28 days where the bureau issues a public notification to allow for objections, just like in the cases of bigger-generation facilities applying for permits.

While the bureau said it expected private investors to show interest in rooftop solar power, some key questions remain.

“There needs to be a lot more detail before we could understand what the next steps are,” said Sami Khoreibi, chief executive and founding partner of Enviromena Power Systems, an Abu Dhabi-based solar company.

Vahid Fotuhi, president and founder of the Middle East Solar Industry Association, said one factor to encourage investors would be the ability to feed excess power to the grid.

In some other countries, the owners of solar systems receive subsidies when they do this.

However, the bureau said no such arrangements are in place for Abu Dhabi.

“Excess generation will flow into the grid by default if connected in parallel. Currently, there is no feed-in tariff mechanism,” said the bureau.

Mr Fotuhi said a good example is the system being prepared for Dubai. The emirate is very close to announcing its own scheme to allow private owners to feed energy into the grid. It is understood it is awaiting final approval and will allow the owners of solar systems to generate credit for energy they produce and feed into the grid.

vtodorova@thenational.ae

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