BIPVco recently spent a few productive days in Dubai attending and speaking at the BIG 5 Solar Conference and Exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The trip included a visit to a local construction company to talk about a new carport structure that requires an integrated solar solution. More will be revealed about this project in due course.

BIG 5 run a portfolio of construction industry events across the Middle East, India and South East Asia, visited by over 300,000 suppliers and buyers from over 120 countries worldwide. More than anything, attending these events gives us the chance to meet prospective clients and stakeholders and catch up on the latest industry trends and updates.

It was interesting to discover how far the Gulf Cooperation Council has come in recent years. Investment in renewable generating technologies has never been higher, particularly solar. It is perhaps not surprising as up to 60% of GCC’s surface area has excellent suitability for PV system installation and the cost of solar power in regions such as UAE has declined to a record low of USD0.06 per KWh, cheaper than power produced from many other sources.

It is ironic as the global centre of fossil fuel production that the GCC has become a leading light in renewable energy generation. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alone is projected to spend USD100 billion on renewable energy over next 20 years. GCC countries anticipate a cumulative carbon emission reduction of 1 GT through clean energy power generation by 2030.

Given the falling cost of solar and rising energy demand, like many other regionals across the world, GCC has little choice but to find new, cleaner ways to generate electricity. The demand for electricity consumption in GCC has been growing at an average rate of 7-8% per annum. This means the GCC will require an additional 100 GW power over next 10 years to cope. The Government will have to double their electricity generating capacity every year to meet this demand.

Moreover, the decline in oil revenue has compelled respective governments across the GCC regions to revoke subsidies on electricity prices, thereby deeming it costly. The rising cost competitiveness of solar equipment will enhance their integration in commercial as well as residential buildings during the forecast period.

The total market size for GCC Building Integrated Photovoltaic Modules corresponds to USD13.5 million in 2016. The market is largely dominated by import modules and major exporting countries in GCC nations include China and Malaysia, constituting more than 83% of total export from GCC nations. Clearly, the BIPV market remains largely untapped, but the combination of cost-competitive solar solutions, favourable climate, declining oil revenues and rising electricity prices, will encourage GCC regions to look at all forms of solar technology to meet demand, including BIPV.