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New report out on future energy scenarios in the GCC

Apr 3, 2008 - BusinessIntelligence - Middle East

UAE. With initiatives like MASDAR in Abu Dhabi and ENPARK in Dubai, the UAE is set to lead the world in future energy technologies according to a new report titled 'Future Energy Scenarios - Exploring the Energy Challenges and Opportunities in the GCC'.

The paper has been released by the International Energy Group (IEG), part of the Dubai-based business conglomerate SS Lootah Group.

The 83-page report puts the spotlight on 'green' buildings in addition to alternative energy potential like thin film PV (nanosolar), wind and nuclear power.

The report says that electric cooling represents 70% of the peak capacity generated, and presents a host of emerging technologies that will soon become viable solutions in improving the efficiency of this sector like solar cooling, distributed generation, tri-generation and quad-generation (simultaneous production of power, heat, cooling and desalinated water respectively). The report also examines reducing green house emissions in the transportation sector.

2006 was the beginning of a significant ramp up in company financings in the solar energy industry and solar IPOs and more importantly, it marked the beginning of serious financial resources coming into the solar industry, which will allow the industry to continue and even expand its current robust growth.

In fact, 2006 could be called 'The Year of the Solar IPO', with IPO companies coming from all points on the globe, US, Europe and China. This industry has incredible growth ahead of it and will need adequate funding to fuel its growth.

The coming year may mark a very significant chapter in the history of the renewable energy industry, the beginning of the transition from the current dominant technology, crystalline silicon, to the 'next generation' photovoltaic (PV) technology, thin film technologies. This year may well be the 'Year of Thin Film Photovoltaics'.

Thin film technologies are various technologies that have been underdevelopment for the past 15 to 20 years and utilise very small amounts of specialised materials to create solar panels. These thin film panels have the potential to produce power significantly cheaper than today's standard silicon technology.

The panels are usually made in the form of a monolithic piece of glass, upon which various thin films are deposited. A number of firms are also working on depositing various thin film materials on flexible substrates, such as stainless steel or plastic.

There are primarily three types of thin film technologies that have each been researched for over 15 years and are the current focus of the solar industry:

Amorphous Silicon (a-Si); Cadmium Telluride (CdTe); Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS). Amorphous Silicon has the largest share of the thin film market, estimated at 64%. It has been researched for the longest period of time, may be the best understood material of the three and has been commercial for the longest. Cadmium Telluride had 26% share of the market and is ramping up very rapidly, with Copper Indium Gallium Selenide having a 10% share of the thin film market, with great potential, but is the least understood and least developed of the three materials.

Advantages of thin film technologies over conventional crystalline silicon include lower cost of production than conventional silicon processes, lower manufacturing facility cost per watt, it uses far less material than the amount used in standard silicon cells. there is lower energy payback (the amount of time until the product produces more energy than was utilised in its manufacture), it produces more useable power per rated watt with sSuperior performance in hot and overcast climates. There is also the ability to be attractively integrated into buildings, as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) and it produces the lowest cost power.

There are a number of public companies that are working in the area of photovoltaic thin films. But the majority of these companies do not have thin film as their primary business. As a result, they can be divided into two groups, the Thin Film Pure Plays (companies whose primary business is thin film photovoltaics) and Thin Film Related Companies (firms that have a division in thin film, an investment in a thin film development company or internal R&D focused on thin film.

Pure plays companies include Ascent Solar Technologies (using Copper Indium Gallium Selenide), First Solar (using Cadmium Telluride), Daystar Technologies (using Copper Indium Gallium Selenide), Power Film (using Amorphous Silicon).

Thin film related companies include Applied Materials, Energy Conversion Devices, Ersol Solar Energy, Q-Cells, Solon and Suntech.

These are not all the companies in the world working on thin film technologies. However, they are some of the public companies that have made significant comments in their annual reports concerning their work in thin film and consider it to be a key part of their future expansion strategy.

As a number of thin film technologies mature,it is likely we will see many additional thin film pure plays, like First Solar going public to raise the necessary funding to expand their technology to address the booming worldwide PV marketplace. The future of distributed solar electric is rapidly approaching and it is called Thin Film Photovoltaics.

The report is the first of its kind where it presents an array of possible approaches and solutions taking into consideration the geo-economic and social challenges specific to this region with a local perspective and accordingly integrates clean and renewable energy sources with finite energy sources that provide sustainable performance at a viable cost to consumer.

Yahya Lootah, President and CEO of International Energy Group commented: "Green buildings result in energy savings of up to 70%. The resolution to adopt green building standards passed by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is a pioneering step towards the adoption of advanced energy technologies. With initiatives like MASDAR in Abu Dhabi and ENPARK in Dubai, the UAE, guided by visionary leadership, is set to lead the world in future energy technologies," he said.

"The future of advanced energy technologies rests on the sincere collaborative efforts made by engineers, manufacturers, businesses, environmentalists, governments and policy makers ,all being equal partners in this historic task. The UAE has led the region with a number of pioneering projects in utilising natural gas to cater to residential, commercial and industrial energy needs.

"We are proud to have contributed to these alternative, economic and clean energy infrastructure projects among others in Asia, Africa and Europe," added Lootah.

The International Energy Group (IEG), with its panel of certified experts is the first international advanced energy technologies alliance operating out of Dubai and the only private sector entity operating in this domain.


Updated: 2003/07/28