Dewa is building its new headquarters, named Al-Shera’a, Arabic for ‘sail.’ The new building will be the tallest, largest, and smartest Zero Energy Building in the world. Image Credit: Supply

Dubai is set to host two rounds of a global competition among top universities involved in renewable energy to promote "net zero-energy buildings", giving the emirate's renewable energy drive an added push. 

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), in collaboration with the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), has organised the Solar Decathlon Middle East Seminar on Tuesday.

The seminar emphasised the importance of net zero-energy buildings (NZEB), also known as zero-energy buildings.

What is NZEB

NZEB, also known as zero-carbon building, is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

Dewa is organising the Solar Decathlon Middle East (SDME) as part of an agreement between Dewa and the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy with the US Department of Energy.

Dubai will host the first two rounds of this competition — the first in November 2018 with the participation of 18 university teams from 13 countries, and the second in 2020 to coincide with Expo 2020 Dubai. 

A number of the university teams of SDME 2018 presented their projects for the competition, which will be held at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park from 14-29 November 2019.

Accelerating net zero living

The forum also included a panel discussion titled "Accelerating Net Zero Living Through SDME".

“This year’s competition is particularly important, not only because it is being held for the first time in the Middle East and Africa, but also because it is being organised during the Year of Zayed, which marks 100 years since the birth of the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who consolidated the principles of sustainable development in the UAE," said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, in a keynote speech.

"This is continued by our wise leadership, represented by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

"At Dewa, we are guided by this vision to launch pioneering initiatives to consolidate all aspects of sustainability in line with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide 75% of the Emirate’s total power output from clean energy by 2050, and establish a sustainable energy model that supports economic growth, without damaging the environment and its resources." 

Solar Park

"Dewa supports this direction by developing leading clean and renewable energy projects, the most prominent of which is the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world. It will produce 5,000MW by 2030. When completed, it will reduce over 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually,” Al Tayer added.

Al Tayer noted that Dewa is building its new headquarters, named Al-Shera’a, which is Arabic for ‘sail.’

The new building will be the tallest, largest, and smartest Zero Energy Building in the world. It will be a sustainability landmark, not just in Dubai or the UAE, but around the world.

Dewa's Sustainable Building is the first sustainable government building in the UAE and the largest government building in the world to receive a Platinum Rating for green buildings from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the US Green Building Council institute.

Net zero-energy buildings

"We are pleased that the Emirates Green Building Council will highlight the Net Zero Energy Buildings concept, which strongly contributes to the UAE’s sustainable development strategies," said Al Tayer.

“Dewa has launched many initiatives to contribute to making Dubai the smartest, happiest, and most sustainable city in the world.

"As part of our efforts to engage customers in producing clean energy, Dewa launched the Shams Dubai initiative in 2015 to encourage building owners to install photovoltaic panels and connect them to its grid.

1,130 buildings now connected to grid

"The initiative has achieved remarkable success with over 1,130 buildings connected to our grid with a capacity of 49MW. We have other requests with a capacity of 300MW."

"Dubai aims to install photovoltaic panels on all the Emirate’s buildings by 2030,” added Al Tayer.

“Dewa provides all that is needed for the success of the Solar Decathlon Middle East in the UAE, which has become a platform for innovation, a destination for innovators, and an incubator for creative minds from all over the world.

"I take this opportunity to thank the sponsors, partners, volunteers, organisers and everyone involved in organising the world's largest, most competitive, and challenging global university competition.

MBR Solar Park to host competition

"I’m also pleased to invite you to visit the competition’s venue at the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park from November 14 to 29, to review the innovative designs of these smart homes and meet the university teams from around the world,” said Al Tayer.

Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of EmiratesGBC, said: “The Emirates Green Building Council is honoured to be an official supporter of the Solar Decathlon Middle East. The SDME is an important initiative to drive innovation and dialogue on the topic of net zero energy buildings in the UAE, and the region."

"I look forward to witnessing the progress of the Solar Decathlon competition and the outcome; especially since it nurtures the next generation of sustainability thought leaders. Our collective purpose is to promote sustainable development, and it is encouraging to see how students are designing innovative solutions to achieve this,” added Al Abbar.

“The competition demonstrates the feasibility of applying net zero concepts in the UAE by providing demonstrable case studies with measurable performance data. 

"This will assist in validating that the time is appropriate to transition from an ‘early adopter’ state to ‘mainstream adoption’ for net zero energy buildings.

'Through, the Council’s Net Zero Centre of Excellence we provide an important platform for government, academia and the private sector to learn and share knowledge on how to advance net zero carbon buildings by the global timeline of 2050, and continue to position the UAE as a global leader in sustainable buildings,” said Al Abbar.

The seminar was attended by Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dewa; Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of EmiratesGBC; Faisal Rashid, Director of Demand Side Management at the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy; Dina Mustafa, Head of Sustainability at EXPO 2020 Dubai; Alia Busamra, Manager of Group Sustainability at Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC); DEWA’s Executive Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents and EmiratesGBC members.