The rooftop scheme recently launched by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), known as “Shams Dubai” has attracted significant interest within both the international and regional solar industry and is a key element in the emirate’s ambitious renewable energy targets.

On 26 March, MESIA (Middle East Solar Industry Association) hosted an event to discuss Shams Dubai with industry representatives and key members of DEWA. There were several key messages that came out of what was a lively and enlightening event. This bulletin aims to give a brief overview of some of those hot topics that have been the subject of much industry debate over the previous few months.

Opportunities for Developers

It is now clear that there is scope for developers to be involved in the scheme in a quasi IPP arrangement. It should be noted that DEWA requires that the connection agreement be between DEWA and the consumer, and DEWA will have no contractual agreement with a behind the scenes developer entity. However, the consumer is free to enter into a commercial arrangement with a developer in connection with the supply, installation and funding of the equipment and the developer is free to negotiate a fee in exchange for its services and equipment.

Developer Concerns

Two key concerns of developers continue to remain:

  1. the covenant strength of the consumer; and
  2. protection in the event that the consumer leaves the property and/or there is a change in circumstances surrounding the property. DEWA is unable to assist with these issues and it is for the interested developers to consider how best to protect against these risks.

Technical Standards and Requirements

To date, over 16 module manufacturers with in excess of 82 products have been approved pursuant to the technical standards released in January 2015.

In terms of clarifications, DEWA was very keen to stress that it will not be “certifying” or “testing” equipment. The approval process consists of the manufacturer considering the technical standards and providing the appropriate certificates to DEWA in respect of their products to demonstrate compliance with the technical standards. DEWA will perform a verification process, following which, the equipment that complies with the technical standards will be added to the approved list.

It should be noted that in order to be installed under the scheme, equipment does not need to be on the pre-approved list. Where it is proposed that equipment that is not pre-approved will be used, evidence of compliance with the technical standards would need to be submitted for verification as part of the design application process.

Contractors and Consultants

Consultants and contractors wishing to be involved in the scheme must be approved by DEWA. This approval process involves enrolling through the website before undertaking mandatory training with DEWA. The training lasts for 5 days and during the 2 rounds of training conducted so far, a total of 50 people have been certified. Details of the upcoming training programs are available on the website and the list of pre-approved companies will be published online within the next few days.

Funding

DEWA was keen to demonstrate its keen interest in developing a finance market within the roof top sector and has been engaging banks in discussions surrounding the scheme. At this stage, there are no specifics in terms of finance products that may be available, but it is encouraging that DEWA is leading on this within the local finance community.

DEWA Website

DEWA has launched the Shams Dubai pages on its website. The website is very well presented, easy to navigate and contains all the information needed from the perspective of a consumer, consultant, contractor and manufacturer. The application process for both rooftop systems and contractors/consultants is clearly defined and illustrated with clear and easily digested diagrams.

Future Developments

DEWA confirmed that the regulations and the process are settled, although there is some fine tuning to be done in places, particularly in connection with the requirements for inverters and interface equipment.

The very clear message taken away by those attending the event was that DEWA is committed to making Shams Dubai a huge success and will continue to be innovative in its approach and to facilitate the roll out of this exciting scheme.

Micheline Thienpont