SMA Middle East has won the Middle East Electricity Award 2015 for the best “Solar project of the year.” The project is a PV-diesel hybrid system with almost 200 kW of solar energy. It was installed in April 2014 on the roof of the plastic factory Advanced Plastic Industries (API) in Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon.
Jörg Delbos, Head of Global Sales Hybrid (left), accepted the award together with Joseph Sadaka (right), General Manager of the Lebanese company Elements Sun & Wind and EPC, at the Middle East Electricity trade fair from March 2 to 4, 2015 in the Dubai World Trade Center. We spoke to him and his colleagues Oussama Chehab, Vice President Sales Emerging Markets; Rouven Lenhart, Senior Sales Manager Hybrid Sales; and Ahmad Rahme, Sales Manager MENA, about the system in Lebanon, the trade fair in Dubai and market potential for PV-diesel hybrid systems in the MENA countries.
What makes the system in Zouk Mosbeh worthy of an award?
Ahmad Rahme: “In Lebanon, the economy is currently growing extremely strongly. Expansion of the electricity grid is not keeping up with this. This makes electricity expensive and the supply unstable. This results in high consumption of kerosene, liquid gas and diesel oil. This is not in keeping with the country’s goals of greater commitment to climate protection.
Jörg Delbos: Our SMA Fuel Save Solution offers the plastic factory a reliable electricity supply that also counteracts rising electricity costs. The customer is already saving around 70,000 liters of diesel fuel a year now. The company would now like to make further use of the saving potential and is planning on adding two further PV systems, each with around 200 kWp, to the system. The factory’s decentralized energy production also supports the unstable utility grid. We are therefore very proud to receive the award in a region that is so important for us.
The Middle East Electricity trade fair describes itself as the world’s largest event for power generation. How seriously are the representatives of the renewable energy industry taken here?
Jörg Delbos: Renewable energies are taken very seriously at the MEE. This is made clear by the fact that the first day at the conference accompanying the event was devoted to green energies in general and the second day to solar energy in particular. Compared to my visits from previous years, what I noticed in particular is that the solar hall was filled much better this year, with around 80 exhibitors compared to 25 last year.
Rouven Lenhart: We had discussions with many people and generated a great deal of new contacts. Many of these focused on concrete project inquiries. I conducted most of the discussions with system integrators for diesel generator fuel stations and generator control unit manufacturers as well as rental power companies and IPPs. IPP means independent power producer. This shows that SMA has become an important provider in the field of PV-diesel hybrid. Naturally, our 20 years and more of experience in the off-grid field, combined with the necessary understanding of the systems and inverters count here as well. Therefore a further highlight was the cooperation agreement for sales activities with Deif, one of the big players in the manufacture of generator control units. A common hardware solution ASCPM is also ready for the market and is already integrated into the first field test systems.
Where is the greatest potential for PV-diesel hybrid systems?
Oussama Chehab: There is great potential for PV-diesel hybrid systems in the entire MENA – Middle East & North Africa – region. Even the oil-producing countries are tending more and more to save on diesel and have discovered the sun’s potential in helping them do so. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in particular are currently trying to install more hybrid systems. Africa is also a very large market for our applications. We naturally want to play a major role here.
Ahmad, Jörg, Oussama and Rouven, many thanks for the interview.
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