Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The national strategy calls for 50% of all energy to come from clean sources by 2050.

Within the United Arab Emirates (UAE), growing populations, economic growth and increased industrial activity have led to rising demand for electricity. With the aim of diversifying energy generation sources, the UAE government has been an early adopter of solar energy in the region. The majority of current energy demand is met through natural gas, but the national strategy is to generate at least 50% of total energy from clean sources by 2050.

A total of 950 solar projects were awarded/tendered across the UAE in 2018. Presently, 1,777 projects are under construction and a total of 573 projects are in operation (including projects below 10 MW).

Some of the major solar projects in the UAE are:

  • Sweihan Solar Photovoltaic Plant, Abu Dhabi: a tender for the plant is expected to be around 1,500 MW
  • Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MBR) Solar Park-DEWA Phase V CSP, Dubai: open tender for Phase 5 (300MW). MBR Solar park is the largest single-site solar facility of its kind in the world and will have a capacity of 5,000 MW by 2030 with investments of $13.6 billion.

Dubai has established a net metering policy called Shams Dubai, with MBR Solar Park as the flagship project. The Shams Dubai program has been the main driver for distributed generation growth in the UAE. There are about 50MW of net metered systems currently in operation, close to 35MW of which has come online in the last 12 months.

Most of these projects are in the commercial and industrial space, while residential adoption has been slow to proceed. Lack of financing is a major constraint in the region in the residential space, but this may change with the growing number of private developers offering solar leases.

The UAE solar market has become one of the fastest-growing in the region. The growth in both the distributed generation1 and utility scale2 segments showcases the government’s commitment to its renewable energy agenda. Excluding MBR Solar Park and Sweihan II, no utility scale tenders have been announced yet, but a significant opportunity in the distributed generation segment is expected.

  1. Distributed generation is an approach that employs small-scale technologies to produce electricity close to the end users of power. 
  2. Utility-scale solar refers to large-scale electricity generation through a photovoltaic power station at a large-scale or a large concentrated solar power plant.