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A year on…

Andrea Di Gregorio, Director, Reem, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, speaks to Hannah Jo Uy of Climate Control Middle East
on the progress the government body has made over the year with regard to its energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes, ongoing collaborations with multiple stakeholders and upcoming initiatives to support the targets set by the Energy Efficiency and Renewables (EE&R) Strategy 2040. Excerpts from the interview on the sidelines of Water, Energy,
Technology, and Environment Exhibition (WETEX), from October 21 to 23 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre…

| | Dec 22, 2019 | 5:24 pm
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Andrea Di Gregorio

Could you provide us with an update on the Municipality’s progress over the past year with regard to meeting the targets of the Energy Efficiency and Renewables (EE&R) Strategy 2040?

We have recently completed our first year of reporting on the progress of the Strategy, and we revealed our annual report at WETEX. We are pleased to see alot of momentum in the implementation of our programmes and to see something concretely in place. We have an institutional set-up that is complete, where Reem, the energy efficiency and renewable energy administration within Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, is established and is now in practice a full-fledged energy efficiency agency with capabilities in terms of strategy, programme management,awareness and capacity building, energy services, retrofits, energy management, solar energy and special projects. An energy efficiency and renewables committee was established, comprising top management from key government stakeholders for the execution of the Strategy, so the institutional set-up is complete.

We have a regulatory framework that is being developed, which is already quite comprehensive, including Barjeel, the Green Building Regulations of Ras Al Khaimah, issued in January of this year. There are supporting regulations for the Building Retrofits programme, comprising an accreditation scheme for energy service companies, which has received quite a good response from ESCOs, incentives for ESCOs who establish themselves in Ras Al Khaimah, and standard contracts, so companies from the government and private sectors and any organisations, who are engaged in retrofit projects, can benefit from a standard way of contracting.

We have directives supporting the Energy Management programme, issued by the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, requiring government entities to participate in energy efficiency projects to save at least 20% of the energy consumption by 2022. We have an Efficient Appliances programme served and supported by regulation issued by ESMA. We have ongoing development from the Public Services Department for the development of regulation in the field of public landscaping and irrigation. The Efficient Vehicles programme is also supported by
regulatory schemes, providing incentives for those that buy and use efficient electric vehicles. There is also a resolution from the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah to support and promote the adoption of efficient vehicles in the government fleet.

Many projects are either in the execution phase or in the tendering phase. I can mention a few. 2019 is a pilot year for Barjeel, when adoption of the regulations is voluntary, and there are already 36 buildings that have been permitted according to Barjeel standards, spanning across a range of building types. There are private villas, warehouses, hotels, office buildings and schools that decided on their own, on a voluntary basis, to participate in the Barjeel standards, which will become mandatory by the end of January 2020.

There are 15 buildings that have been contracted for retrofits under the Buildings Retrofit programme at this stage. There are four municipality buildings, nine buildings from the free zone, including a District Cooling plant, and two buildings of RAK Hospital. There is also a project for outdoor street lighting contracted by RAKEZ for the retrofit of 1,500 street lights in the free zone area. In the Energy Management programme, quick wins are being implemented within the government, and a project is almost completed in the Municipality for the development of
capabilities for ISO 50001.

We already have a portfolio of projects in renewables, including two distributed solar PV projects that have already been contracted. One at the Municipality, for 250 kilowatts, and the other in Mina Al Arab by RAK Properties, for 1 megawatt expandable. Even in the absence of supporting regulations, these projects show the willingness of the local market to participate in solar developments.

RAK collaborated with partners from both the public and the private sectors through the signing of various MoUs over the year. How much have the collaborations helped? And does the Municipality see further collaborations with organisations and industry stakeholders as it ramps up its efforts to meet the targets set by the Strategy?

We find in these collaborations a lot of value as a multiplier of our efforts. One entity like ours, Reem, cannot manage directly all the projects that happen in broad fields such as energy efficiency and renewable energy. We
can stimulate the market, we can showcase some pilot projects, we can define regulatory elements and support the development of regulation, but we cannot definitely run every single project. We need to rely on our government stakeholders and partner entities to drive specific initiatives, and on the private sector to step in and develop the market.

With RAKEZ and the Department of Economic Development in Ras Al Khaimah, we established a strategy to attract the most innovative companies in the field. There is an incentive system in place, which is offering one-to-one benefits and also some in the form of incentives for the set-up of new offices in Ras Al Khaimah, specifically for our Strategy. There are incentives activated last year for energy service companies and auditors, and we are happy to see different companies opening an office in Ras Al Khaimah and benefiting from a market that is relatively new and with still limited competition. There are many advantages for those companies that start early on.

Examples of other important collaborations include those with the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, MASDAR and the Emirates Green Building Council, to name a few, which are helping us in the capability and knowledge side. We are also strengthening relationships with private institutions. One announced recently is with Grundfos for the execution of an audit programme of pumps. In addition, we look for synergies with trade associations and trade councils to promote intervention from the private sector. For example, we have recently conducted awareness
and capacity building activities with the Danish Embassy and Consulate. We look for those collaborations, because we want to develop a network and an ecosystem of companies that can bring products and services related to energy efficiency and renewables to the Emirate.

Does this ecosystem of companies help in addressing technical knowledge transfer in relation to particular products, such as HVAC components, in a bid to optimise design, installation, operation and maintenance?

There are some pieces of knowledge, which are very specialised, addressing equipment with high potential for energy saving, such as pumps, electric motors, compressors and HVAC systems. These technologies are everywhere, and we will definitely benefit from companies that specialise in these components, by bringing them in and addressing these topics in a horizontal way across sectors, including industrial, commercial and government buildings.

From what we understand, the Municipality is also conducting online training sessions on Barjeel. Could you elaborate on this initiative? How is the Municipality leveraging digital platforms to help engage with stakeholders, including consumers across Ras Al Khaimah?

Training and capacity building, in general, are among the fundamental enablers of the Strategy. We have started working on those from the early stages. We have established initial training programmes for stakeholders and for the private sector, specifically for the consultants. Barjeel is one of them, and a training programme has been activated in the form of physical training and in the form of online training.

The online training for Barjeel turned out to be quite successful. I was surprised to see it was also an innovative idea, as I realised the Municipality is one of few organisations in the region providing training on Green Building standards through online platforms. The Barjeel training platform comprises training on requirements of Barjeel, and an online test, and it is connected to certification.


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