PV Analysis of the Belt and Road Initiative

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PV Demand Analysis of the Belt and Road Initiative: UAE of Western Asia

UAE Country Profile 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a total population of 9.4 million. The nation holds the world’s seventh biggest oil reserve. Its rich oil resources and high income per capital have given outside world enough confidence to invest in the UAE. In 2017, the nation’s foreign direct investment (FDI) reached USD 10.3 billion, a year-on-year (YoY) increase of 8% compared to 2016. Moody’s, a global credit rating agency, assigned the UAE a credit rating of AA2, indicating a stable future outlook.

Located in Eastern Arabia, the UAE has a desert climate. The temperature in summer reaches 40-50°C between May and October, while that in winter is about 7-20°C from November to April. In addition, the nation’s geographic location allows it to have sufficient amount of sunlight, with the annual solar radiation reaching 2,285/kWh per square meter.

Renewable energy development in the UAE

In 2017, the UAE initiated the Energy Strategy 2050, which targets 44% of electricity from renewable energies by 2050. Among all projects, solar PV and wind power development are the UAE government’s primary aim.

UAE Generation ratio target

As the UAE government didn’t develop a renewable energy policy framework until 2017, the electric grids were mainly powered by steam and gas, with only 0.2% of which was generated from renewable energies by the end of 2016.

UAE’s PV policy and development

The UAE consists of seven emirates, of which Dubai and Abu Dhabi play the most influential role in developing the solar industry. The two emirates spearhead the UAE’s solar PV development and each came up with different incentive schemes to stimulate solar PV demand.

UAE policy

At the end of 2017, the UAE’s cumulative PV capacity touched 255MW, with 213MW of which were newly installed. The significant expansion in 2017 could be ascribed to the 200MW auction projects that had all completed grid-connection.  

UAE Cumulative installation

According to the auction timetable, the solar capacity to be installed in 2019 may hit 1.5GW. If the third and fourth rounds of auction were held and connected to the grid as planned, there will be a minimum of 550MW new capacity in 2020, which is much lower than that in 2019.

UAE-China trade: module imports and exports

According to PV InfoLink’s China customs database, China’s total module exports to the UAE stood at 1,238MW in 2018.

Judging from the shipment distribution in 2018, module exports peaked in January through May as well as between September and December. Modules shipped to the UAE from January to May were likely to supply the project of DEWA’s first phase of Round 3 auction. During that period, March saw the largest volume of modules shipments.

UAE Module Shipment


Since the release of energy policy in 2017, the UAE has started to push for utility-scale auction projects for solar PV, leading to an increase in PV installation. As all utility-scale projects are expected to connect to the grid between 2018 and 2020, the total demand is likely to surpass that in 2017.

With Dubai and Abu Dhabi serving as the leading roles in the UAE, the country’s solar energy development highly depends on the two emirates. Therefore, their future development plan and policies for the solar industry are critical.

*PV InfoLink will hold a seminar titled “2H19 PV Market Trends and Outlook” in Shanghai on June 3. Welcome to join us for more market insights and technology trends.

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