HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Supreme Council of Energy in Dubai and MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity Authority (DEWA), has inaugurated the first international workshop for the Solar Decathlon Middle East (SDME). The two-day workshop discusses the competition’s rules, regulations, and next steps. The 22 finalist university teams for the SDME in November 2018 are taking part in the workshop.

The workshop was attended by HE Paul Malik, Consul General of the United States of America to Dubai, HE Valentina Setta, Consul General of Italy to Dubai, Richard King, SDME Senior Advisor, and a number of officials, researchers, and former participants of the Solar Decathlon.

On the first day of the workshop, Al Tayer launched three new platforms of the World Green Economy Organisation (WGEO), which was launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in October 2016 and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). These are Youth, Academia, and Civil Society Organisation.

In his keynote speech, Al Tayer welcomed participants at the workshop, noting that the Solar Decathlon Middle East was created through an agreement between both the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and DEWA, and the United States Department of Energy. Dubai will host two rounds of this distinguished competition. The first is in 2018 and the next in 2020 to coincide with World Expo 2020 in Dubai, with the appropriate theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.’

“Hosting this international competition in Dubai reflects the commitment of our leadership, headed by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to adopt innovation as an approach to finding solutions to the challenges that face the world. It reasserts their belief in the important role young people play in building a sustainable future. Hosting this competition in the UAE for the first time in the Middle East confirms the UAE’s keenness to provide young people with opportunities to unleash their energies and encourage them to be creative and innovative. This make them contributors to sustainable development, leading to a positive change in people’s lives. The UAE has become a platform for innovation, a destination for innovators, and an incubator for creative minds from all over the world,” said Al Tayer.

“Sustainability has always been at the core of life in the UAE. Our ancestors relied on natural resources to build homes that are suitable for the local climate. Barjeel wind towers were paramount in the designs of Emirati homes. They made for a natural air-conditioning system by capturing the breeze through a vertical outlet and replacing hot air inside rooms with cool air. Today, we want you to leave your mark on the path of sustainable development and green economy around the globe, by designing energy-efficient and self-sufficient homes that reduce the environmental impact of buildings, inform the public about the importance of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the technologies that help them optimise their energy use. The Decathlon will provide practical models for solar-run houses that can be comfortable, attractive, and affordable,” said Al Tayer to the participants.

Al Tayer said that the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park was selected to host the Solar Decathlon Middle East, because it is one of the most important projects and key to starting a new phase of environmental sustainability and clean energy. The solar park is the largest single-site solar energy project in the world, based on the Independent Power Producer model. It will produce 5,000MW by 2030 and will help reduce 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually. In March this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum inaugurated the 200MW second phase of the solar park, which provides clean energy for 50,000 residences in Dubai, in addition to reducing 214,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

“In October 2016, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the World Green Economy Organisation, a global initiative supported by the UNDP. Last February, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, launched the private sector platform, the first platform of WGEO. Today, I am pleased to launch three new platforms of the WGEO: Youth, Academia, and Civil Society Organisation. Launching these platforms reflects our diligent efforts to support a green economy, and reinforces WGEO’s pioneering position to ensure a sustainable future for us all. This will advance policies and actions to accelerate the pace towards a green economy. This will be achieved through knowledge and experience development, enhancing cooperation among various stakeholders in charge of developing strategies and by putting policies in place to ensure a sustainable future,” said Al Tayer

“In October 2015, I attended the final awards ceremony of the Solar Decathlon in Irvine, California in the US. I was impressed with the designs of the participating teams. We hope to see more advanced designs and more competiveness in the next two Solar Decathlons, which will take place in 2018 and in 2020 in Dubai. I am confident that the models you will present in November 2018 are going to be a significant addition to viable models for smart homes that will contribute to the conservation and sustainability of natural resources, for generations to come,” concluded Al Tayer.

Malik delivered a speech where he commended DEWA for organising the Solar Decathlon for the first time in the Middle East.

Richard King, SDME Senior Advisor, also gave a speech. He noted that since it started in 2002 in Washington DC, the Solar Decathlon helped educate 225 collegiate teams involving over 30,000 students and faculty. The houses have been shown to millions of visitors. “We will have 22 teams designing 22 more houses and for the first time in a hot, dry climate,” noted King.

Representatives of the participating teams briefed the audience about the projects that they will build in SDME in November 2018. The teams that have qualified to the final stage of the first Solar Decathlon Middle East include the University of Sharjah, the American University in Dubai, Ajman University of Science & Technology, the American University of Ras Al Khaimah, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, New York University Abu Dhabi, and the Petroleum Institute at Khalifa University from the UAE. It also includes King Saud University from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar University, Dhofar University in Oman, the University of Jordan, Virginia Tech from the USA, Eindhoven University of Technology from the Netherlands, the University of Wollongong from Australia, Gabriele D’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara and Sapienza University of Rome from Italy, Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism from Romania, the Islamic Science University of Malaysia, National Chiao Tung University from Taiwan, the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan, the University of Belgrade of Serbia, and Team Bordeaux, which includes the University of Bordeaux from France, Amity University, the UAE, and An-Najah University from Palestine.