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Solar in Middle East: Dubai eases approval requirements to boost rooftop solar

Solar in Middle East: Dubai eases approval requirements to boost rooftop solar

The Dubai authorities will ease approval requirements for the installation of rooftop solar panels, potentially trimming construction time by up to a month and stoking demand from clients.

Approved contractors received an emailed notification from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) on Thursday that certain requirements were no longer necessary for the no objection certificate (NOC) stage.

“We trust that this will result in a streamlining of the NOC procedures,” the email said, adding that Dewa had also slashed its internal targets for the processing time for approvals.

Dewa said in its email: “As a result of the above mentioned simplification and the revised targets, we expect the overall NOC cycle time to significantly improve going forward, apart from reducing the NOC documentation cost and preparation time for contractors and consultants.”​

To install rooftop solar, for residential and commercial buildings, a NOC must be obtained before a design application can be submitted. Only after these have been completed can an installation take place, with a connection to the grid as the final step.

In addition, a Dubai Municipality site plan will no longer be required unless there has been a change in ownership or a customer receives a specific request from the utility.

Companies have said the process had been time consuming, thwarting the emirate’s efforts to have solar panels on every rooftop by 2030, as part of its Shams Dubai initiative.

Johann Schoeman, a partner at the Dubai-based Oryx Solar, said the main benefit of the changes is that companies can now do an installation in parallel to applying for other approvals. He said many companies had already been doing this, but it was risky.

“The shortest we’ve been able to do everything from obtaining a NOC to installation was almost six weeks for a residential rooftop system that was less than 5 kilowatts,” Mr Schoeman said. However, with these adjustments, Oryx believes the time for implementing their small systems can decrease by two weeks.

Slightly larger systems, ranging between 10kW and 15kW, could be installed up to a month faster compared with the current standard installation time.

The Dewa-approved contractor, Sustainable Energy Solutions (SES) Solar, said the initial requirements had companies providing information that was not always essential.

“The best time we’ve made in a residential building for a 10kW system was between three and four months from submission to installation, but I think the new amendments will shave off two to four weeks,” said John Clarke, a SES Solar contractor.

SOURCE: The National