Dubai utility clamps down on net-metered commercial solar


Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) has announced “ground-mounted projects are no longer envisaged under Shams Dubai” – the net metering regime introduced in the emirate in 2015.

The stunning policy move was accompanied by an announcement that, under new Shams Dubai rules, “the maximum capacity to be installed in a [rooftop] plot is capped at 2,080 kW.”

The Shams scheme, which had driven 106 MW of solar generation capacity by September, permits PV system owners to receive electricity bill credits for excess power pumped back into the grid on a like-for-like, retail-price basis. The dramatic policy about-turn was announced on May 11.

With sources informing pv magazine commercial businesses such as hotels and manufacturers had displayed an appetite for rooftop systems with capacities well in excess of 2 MW – and in some cases planning to pool efforts to develop ground-mounted arrays of up to 50 MW – the policy bombshell appears to be an attempt by the utility to regain control over power generation in the emirate.

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The generation and consumption of electricity by different private entities is easiest when ‘wheeling’ rules permit such power to be transferred using the public grid network. Although wheeling is not available in Dubai, hope was reportedly growing among commercial and industrial would-be generators that such a regime would be introduced, following the success of the Shams net metering program. The utility’s dramatic intervention appears to have crushed that expectation.

With the emirate among the many Gulf states investing in vast, headline-grabbing solar sites, it appears the Dubai authorities also intend to return to a more centralized approach to the planning of much smaller arrays too.

Dewa warned there would be no exceptions to the new rules “for solar PV projects initiated by customers under Shams Dubai, and no other regulatory framework is envisaged to accept any application not complying” with the new regime.

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