Around 43 to 48 per cent of human energy consumption is centred on building energy needs, compared to 30-35 per cent for industrial energy and the 20-25 per cent for transportation energy. For this reason, addressing the energy needs in buildings can have a hugely positive impact on the environment.
A skyscraper with solar panels on its roof and facades will spare the planet over 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year, which is the equivalent of planting 30,000 trees and growing them for 10 years. This amazing statistic alone makes a compelling case for the switch to solar energy, which is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available on Earth.
Of all the countries on our planet, I believe that the UAE is perhaps best positioned to become the world’s leading hub for solar energy. One obvious advantage is that the UAE enjoys almost uninterrupted sunshine throughout the year. The UAE also has the space to develop solar power plants, and there is a growing appetite for renewable energy as the country continues to diversify away from oil and fossil fuels.
But beyond this, the UAE also has a pioneering and progressive attitude toward shaping a sustainable future, and has already launched an ambitious series of renewable energy strategies. These include the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix by up to 44 per cent by 2050, and the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide 7 per cent of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020, 25 per cent by 2030, and 75 per cent by 2050.
Dubai has just launched the world’s largest concentrated solar power project, and following two world records set in Dubai and Abu Dhabi last year, the cost of solar energy is also expected to reach record lows this year.
Solar energy is at the brink of mass adoption in the UAE, so let’s return to that skyscraper I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Why isn’t every skyscraper in Dubai covered from top to bottom with solar panels? In large part it is because until 2013, solar technology was out of step with the architectural design process; while saving energy, solar panels took away from the aesthetic appeal of buildings.
This is where Kromatix technology steps in, as it allows companies to offer coloured solar material for both facades and roofs. These coloured solar panels allow solar solutions to be completely integrated into the architectural design of all types of buildings, without compromising on aesthetics. They can also be mounted on every surface of a building, opening up a whole new world of opportunities in terms of aesthetic design and energy savings.
This is known as ‘Building Integrated Photovoltaics’ (BIPV), which is a market that it set to grow rapidly over the next five to 10 years. N-tech market research forecasts a compounded annual growth rate of approximately 30 per cent in the BIPV glass market as it swells from $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) in 2015 to $6.3 billion in 2022.
N-tech also forecasts a CAGR of around 30 per cent in BIPV installed capacity, from around 200MW in 2017 to around 2,300MW in 2026. RNR market research indicates a slightly higher market size growth rate of 36 per cent between 2015 and 2022.
In Dubai, each Kromatix panel would save around 280 kilos of carbon dioxide every year — equivalent to planting seven trees and growing them for 10 years. That is for each individual panel; another remarkable statistic that we hope will accelerate the transition to solar energy across the UAE.
The writer is managing partner of Emirates Insolaire.