DUBAI, UAE, 11 August 2020: There has been a significant shift in the UAE market over the past six months, which has seen an abrupt increase in demand for EC fans, said Koen van Nistelrooij, Managing Director, ebm papst. “We see the UAE changing from AC and more old-fashioned motors to new motors,” he said, adding that this is driven by a combination of the country’s rapidly ageing building stock and long-standing efforts to educate the market on the energy-saving merits of EC technology. “I think the EC change started already 2-3 years ago,” he said. “Some companies and consultants started to put in their contracts that they need EC, and as of November and December of last year, we see more customers needing EC fans.”
van Nistelrooij said that the retrofit market is an increasingly important business vertical for manufacturing companies in the UAE, for two main reasons. Firstly, it is unlikely there will be a lot of new projects coming up, considering the infrastructure in the UAE is already well-developed. “I don’t think big developers will continue to set up more residential buildings, and I’m not sure if it will increase, but I believe the market will be stable,” he said. “But for EC technologies, I think the market will increase, because now, a lot of AHU manufacturers still use AC fans, and they will change that to EC in the long run.”
Additionally, van Nistelrooij said, buildings in Dubai are getting older, and since fans would typically need to be changed around the 10-year mark, there will be a surge in demand from a repairs point of view. “Most of the residential buildings and hotels were built 10-15 years ago,” he said. “The fan or the filter will break, and the question will be, ‘Do we buy a new AHU or do we replace fan or filter?’ That’s where the new market will be, or is already.” He said that he also believes the inevitable need for repairs will prompt stakeholders to upgrade their AHUs, instead of a one-on-one replacement, following greater appreciation of reduced energy cost in long-term operations. In this context, van Nistelrooij said, the market will move towards EC technology, following concerted efforts of manufacturers over the past few years to highlight its energy-saving benefits. “Years ago, energy conservation was not as much of a priority here in the region,” he said. “We had a lot of oil, and a lot of other resources, but with all the changes in the world, oil is less important to many people, especially with the growth of electric cars. With the world changing to more energy-efficient goods, I think the UAE is also changing because of this.”
van Nistelrooij said he believes the trend towards EC technology will continue to have a positive momentum despite the uncertain economic situation brought on by COVID-19, making some companies more wary when it comes to investing in energy-efficiency measures during this time. “The UAE, in particular, has a lot of scope for growth in EC technologies, because the market is still catching up with trends in Europe,” he said, pointing out that in Europe it’s already almost impossible to sell AC fans, because the specifications cannot meet the high requirements of the energy certificate, forcing customers to buy EC fans. “It’s not that strict here, but in a few years’ time, the UAE government will also start to move in this direction,” he said.
van Nistelrooij said that while UAE continues to be the biggest market for ebm papst, the markets in Saudi Arabia and Egypt have presented strong interest in EC technologies, following increasing demand. He added that the company is looking for the best partners in these countries and to look at the best way to strengthen their position in these markets. “We need to strategically think about how big the market is,” he said. “The biggest market at the moment is the UAE, but we definitely need to be flexible and even countries in Northern Africa have seen the potential and showed interest in EC.”