More renewable-energy products could be made in the UAE as companies are looking to establish assembly plants in the country. In time, says one official, tenders in the sector might even require a level of locally made production.
Taher Diab, the senior director of strategy and planning at the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, said that even though manufacturers would have to source their raw materials abroad, the UAE can be a hub for technology in the Middle East during a fundamental shift towards renewable energy.
He pointed to the growing number of solar companies that have shifted their manufacturing activities from Europe and North America to Asia.
"Dubai is evaluating the feasibility of establishing a Green Free Zone where developers and investors can converge and drive the development of solar technology, energy efficiency services and smart buildings equipment," he said. "One day, we could see tenders floated in the market with specifications for UAE-made solar panels to support local green jobs."
He said: "I can foresee Dubai attracting companies to set up assembly plants because it has favourable business conditions and the logistics to support it."
A few Chinese companies, which have specialised in renewables, have shown interest in setting up assembly plants in the emirate. Saeed Al Tayer, the managing director and chief executive of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, said that there had been interest from a variety of companies.
"There are companies that will establish in the UAE either through a joint venture or on an individual basis," he said, but did not disclose a time frame.
The Abu Dhabi start-up P7 Global is hoping to deliver renewable energy solutions, including solar-powered water-purification systems in remote areas. It has partnered with NordOest, a Norwegian consultancy focused on bringing cleantech Nordic companies to the UAE and wider GCC.
Amer Farid, P7’s managing partner, said the first step was ensuring the technology worked in the region’s harsh environment, followed by addressing local challenges. The company believes market growth hinges on aligning itself with groups such as the Red Crescent and utilities such as Adwea and Dewa. "That’s the way we feel we can support many of their efforts at addressing water scarcity issues around the globe and, of course, grow the market," he said.
Mr Farid said that by doing this, P7’s operations could scale very fast. "The idea is to have the manufacturing/assembly base here, and it could be under 18 months if we get the traction and support. We want to use the UAE as a launch pad. The infrastructure is fantastic and the government support is here," he said.
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