Survey highlights challenges facing UAE solar industry

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The United Arab Emirates government is widely considered to be the key driver for the growth of solar power in the country, according to a survey released today.

But the joint survey by the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also revealed a number of challenges facing the solar industry in the UAE, including the absence of a feed-in tariff incentive scheme.

The UAE Solar Survey was conducted by ESIA and PwC with the support of the UAE government. Its aim is to gain insights into the perceived barriers to the growth of solar in the UAE.

The survey noted that another challenge highlighted by participants is the difficulty in obtaining bank financing for solar projects.

The renewables targets set by Abu Dhabi and Dubai were welcomed as a sound starting point, although many felt legally binding regulatory frameworks are necessary to provide the certainty needed for the industry to flourish.

Abu Dhabi aims to generate 7% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, while Dubai targets 5% by 2030.

The survey collected insights from over 170 solar industry professionals drawn from the government sector, solar project engineering and technology manufacturers and expert advisors. Over  60% of participants were UAE-based, ensuring strong local knowledge..

The President of ESIA, Vahid Fotuhi, welcomed the survey results. He said: “This survey clearly outlines the barriers for large-scale investment in the UAE solar power market. It will serve as a helpful reference for local and federal policy-makers. I am confident that by addressing the collective concerns highlighted in this survey we will be able to transform the UAE into a regional hub for solar energy.”

Hannes Reinisch, Senior Manager at PwC, said: “We all know there is plenty of sunshine in the UAE and that there are plenty of parties interested in developing this resource, in line with the government's green growth agenda. Our survey highlights some of the perceived challenges in making this happen – financing, experience, regulatory certainty – challenges that the public and private sector can now focus on and resolve together.”

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