Yellow Door Energy: "The pandemic has actually accelerated the adoption of distributed solar"

Yellow Door Energy: "The pandemic has actually accelerated the adoption of distributed solar" 

By: Mark Anthony Karam
Interviews

"Solar energy is one of the most suitable choices of renewable energy in the region, given its abundance. Distributed solar, in particular, should be encouraged and widely adopted."

Today, Yellow Door Energy, a UAE-based sustainable energy provider for commercial and industrial businesses, is among the companies leading the push for clean energy in the region. Established in 2015, the company has solar energy projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Pakistan. As of 2021, the company had over 200 megawatts of solar projects in the Middle East and South Asia, with major companies such as Nestlé, Unilever, Carrefour/Majid Al Futtaim, and the Landmark Group among its customers.

A major focus for the company is "distribution generation through solar," which it calls "Utilities 3.0." Distributed solar revolves around generating electricity via solar means at or near where it will be used, which on the micro scale could be in the instance of a store setting up its own solar panels on its roof to power its facilities. 

"Through this model, we can generate electricity at the point of demand, where it is needed, when it is needed, such as from a rooftop or carpark. This model is particularly suited for emerging markets where grid infrastructure is insufficient, and demand is growing."

This is according to Jeremy Crane, CEO & Founder of Yellow Door Energy, who shares some insights about his company and the overall energy market in this Q&A with the Abu Dhabi SME Hub.

jeremy crane yellow door energy

Can you tell us about Yellow Door Energy's core offerings and the pain points they address for businesses?

Yellow Door Energy is the leading sustainable energy partner for top-tier businesses in the Middle East and Pakistan, with over 200 megawatts of solar projects to-date. Headquartered in the UAE, our customers include Nestlé, Unilever, Landmark Group, Carrefour and Majid Al Futtaim, and many more. 

With our sustainable energy solutions, businesses reduce energy costs, improve power reliability and lower carbon emissions. This is in line with net-zero targets set at COP26, supported by governments, financial institutions and leading organizations worldwide.

What cost savings can businesses expect from utilising Yellow Door Energy’s renewable energy solutions?

We provide solar power purchase agreements, also known as solar leases in the UAE. Through our solar lease, businesses can switch to clean energy and save money, without using any of their own capital. Yellow Door Energy is responsible for financing the solar power plant, as well as for designing, building, commissioning, operating and maintaining.

The savings on electricity bills vary from market to market. In the UAE, businesses can expect savings ranging from 10-40% on their electricity bills, depending on their energy consumption and industry. 

The ranges vary in our other markets such as Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. It is best that businesses reach out directly to our salesforce to get a free and customized solar proposal for their facility. 

Rooftop solar plant in Dubai for clients Greenhouse Foodstuff Trading and Le Chocolat.

Would you say that solar energy is the most suitable choice among renewable energy sources for a region like the GCC? And what are the various implementations that can be deployed on the micro and macro level?

Solar energy is one of the most suitable choices of renewable energy in the region, given its abundance. Distributed solar, in particular, should be encouraged and widely adopted. 

Distribution generation through solar, what we call Utilities 3.0, is a new model of delivering power. Through this model, we can generate electricity at the point of demand, where it is needed, when it is needed, such as from a rooftop or carpark. This model is particularly suited for emerging markets where grid infrastructure is insufficient, and demand is growing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on significant challenges for the solar energy segment. What are the greatest challenges posed by the pandemic, and how can they be addressed?

We faced some short-term logistical challenges during the pandemic, but those have mostly been alleviated. We worked closely with our suppliers and contractors to minimize the impact on our customers’ projects. 

The pandemic has actually accelerated the adoption of distributed solar, specifically in solar PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements)/leases as businesses look for ways to reduce electricity costs without any upfront investment. Our company experienced an increase in inquiries during the pandemic and in 2021 has secured over $100 million of new energy projects. This shows the business community’s interest in reducing costs to remain competitive and resilient in a post-pandemic world. 

Solar carport and rooftop solar plant in Dubai for client Al Nabooda Automobiles. Image: Ghadir Shaar

In a region where non-renewable energy is among the cheapest in the world, how can we encourage the adoption of solar energy solutions, in your opinion, on both the B2B and B2C levels?

Our industry is heavily regulated, thus the best way to encourage solar adoption with both B2C and B2B is to have favourable government policies and regulations.

This may include reducing or removing subsidies on electricity and water, so that residents and businesses pay the true cost for these precious resources and learn to conserve them.

Additionally, it may include setting clear regulations on net metering, removing quotas or caps on solar systems so that we make use of every rooftop in the region. Specific to the UAE, as our nation grows, the demand for land grows. Instead of taking up more land, we can put solar panels on rooftops that are currently not being used to their full potential. 

The benefits are that everyone can be involved in energy conservation and in switching to cleaner sources of electricity. This is in line with the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative and the key targets of COP28, which takes place in the UAE next year. 

Rooftop solar plant in Dubai for client United Foods. Image: Ghadir Shaar

Based on current trends and activity in the industry, what will the solar segment in the UAE be like in 5 years?

In the next 5 years, I believe that most rooftops in the UAE and overall Middle East will be equipped with solar panels. 

Firstly, the price of solar has fallen significantly, specifically 82% in the last decade, making solar cheaper than new coal. We are experiencing some pricing pains due to the pandemic but I believe they are short-lived. At Yellow Door Energy, we are working closely with our suppliers to minimize the impacts to our projects and continue to bring clean energy to leading businesses in the region. 

Secondly, there have been calls for tariff reforms, as electricity subsidies cost GCC countries more than $120 billion in the past 20 years. With potential increases in electricity prices from the grid, businesses will look to cheaper solutions such as solar.

Thirdly, technological advancements will continue to make solar more efficient and cost-competitive. There are exciting developments in the green and blue hydrogen space, energy storage, EV, big data/analytics, artificial intelligence, etc. At Yellow Door Energy, we are always analyzing these new technologies to assess their suitability in our suite of services, with the end objectives of maximizing the energy savings for our customers and helping them achieve net zero emissions. 

Lastly, countries in the region recognize the importance of sustainability and preserving the environment for future generations. The Net Zero commitments are just the beginning. Deploying renewable energy is integral to every country’s sustainability strategy, thus more favorable policies will be in place to encourage the adoption of renewable energy. 

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