Key takeaways from Abu Dhabi’s World Future Energy Summit


The World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi kicked off slowly this year as the United Arab Emirates grappled with the region's worst storm in 75 years, as well as widespread flooding.

The natural disaster prevented several visitors from attending the fair, but also led to the cancellation of the Intersolar event, which was to be held concurrently in Dubai. As a result, there was an uptick in the number of visitors starting from the second day, and this crowd likely included many people who had only planned to attend the Intersolar event.

The WFES organizers said that approximately 16,000 people attended the fair and around 41% of them came from outside the United Arab Emirates. About 450 companies had a presence at the show, which is 22% higher than in 2023. The gross floor space also increased this year by 12% to 35,000 m2.

All major module manufacturers – including JinkoSolar, Trina Solar, Longi, and JA Solar, as well as inverter manufacturers like Sungrow, Huawei, and Growatt – participated in the event. Western manufacturers were notably absent, indicating that Chinese companies still dominate the region's product supply.

The fair also revealed that the countries of the Middle Eastern PV market, especially the United Arab Emirates, are still largely focused on large-scale projects, although local businesses are increasingly expressing interest in commercial and industrial (C&I) solar projects.

The United Arab Emirates reached 5.92 GW of cumulative PV capacity at the end of 2023, according to the International Renewable Energy (IRENA). Around 2.3 GW of the total was added last year, and similar annual deployment volumes are expected in the coming years.

Auctions are still the biggest market driver, with low bids even during periods of high PV module prices. Now, with panel prices hitting new all-time lows, the results could be surprising.

Lei Wu, the COO of Sungrow Middle East, said the WFES offers a good opportunity to meet customers from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

“Our main customers from this region are mostly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” he told pv magazine. “Both markets are offering great opportunities in the large scale and C&I business. We still don't see big demand in the residential segment.”

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Mohamed Saady, head of technical services and product management MENA at JinkoSolar, was particularly happy with the increase in visitors.

“We consider the WFES as our gateway to MENA because it is the biggest and most important event in the region,” he said to pv magazine. “We are seeing a solid C&I market coming in many MENA countries that apply either net metering or net billing. In this regard, the UAE and Jordan are well-established markets, and now we see new markets like Kuwait, Morocco and Algeria take their first important steps.”

Saady said that JinkoSolar, based on China's export statistics, has a market share in the MENA region ranging from 50% to 70%, and as high as 80% in unspecified countries.

According to Hinde Liepmannsohn, executive director of the Middle East Solar Energy Industry Association (MESIA), the WFES trade show highlighted a number of growing trends across all markets.

“The C&I business is currently attracting capital,” she told pv magazine. “There is still a strong need for regulations. We see Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq as potential new emerging markets.”

Abhishek Kaushal, sales and marketing director South Asia for Huasun, told pv magazine that the crowd was really good.

“We see big attention here for heterojunction solar modules, considering most of the projects are located in high-temperature areas,” said Kaushal. “The clients understand now the commercial maturity of heterojunction technology.”

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