A nuclear reactor above our heads: embracing solar energy is key to working sustainably
By Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO, DP World — The sun produces enough light every hour to match worldwide energy needs for a year. Our bodies are solar factories converting a pre-form of Vitamin D on our skin when it is hit by the ultraviolet energy from the sun. And if more businesses can harness the incredible power of this energy source, we can help build create healthier environments and bring widespread benefits to the communities in which we operate.
As an enabler of global trade working in 40 countries across six continents, we have the opportunity to make a major positive impact in the areas where we work. Helping improve people’s lives and protecting the environment are crucial and one of the key ways to achieve both these goals is by using solar energy.
The numerous benefits of solar energy include reduced carbon use, cleaner air and less pollution for local residents, as well as the fact that installing solar panels helps create local jobs. As part of our global commitment to working sustainably – brought together under the Our World, Our Future programme – we have commissioned what will be the largest distributed solar rooftop project in the Middle East. Work has now begun to construct 88,000 rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels on our Dubai facilities, with phase one set for completion in June 2017.
The Middle East is dedicated to being more sustainable as a region, part of which includes energy diversification and our solar project plays a key role in these ambitions. Our renewable energy push will contribute towards the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, which seeks to reduce energy demand by 30 per cent by 2030. It also supports the UAE Vision 2021 for a sustainable environment, which is the national initiative for building a green economy.
Our landmark solar initiative will have major environmental benefits. It will provide 40 per cent of the total energy consumption of Jebel Ali Freezone (Jafza) , one of the world’s largest free zones. Once phase one is completed, the project will provide enough clean power for 3,000 homes per year and will result in 22,000 tonnes of carbon being saved annually, equivalent to taking 4,500 cars off the road. In case the massive environmental and social benefits weren’t enough of a draw for those in the ports and logistics industry to commit to solar energy, it also has positive business implications. Both DP World and Jebel Ali Free Zone, will benefit from a reduction in energy bills and be protected from rising electricity costs in the future.
This solar initiative is part of DP World’s global commitment to sustainability – brought together under the Our World, Our Future programme. With 77 terminals in over 40 countries, there is significant scope for us to implement the learnings from this project across our operations. Indeed, the expertise and knowledge from the solar scheme will be shared to help develop supply chain capabilities for both our own operations and those of our stakeholders.
Investment in global clean energy is gathering pace as new technologies make it more commercially viable. For example, in 2015, a record US $329bn was invested in global clean energy around the world. In July of this year, Solar Impulse 2 made headlines around the world when it landed in Abu Dhabi, becoming the first plane powered by renewable energy to tour the globe.
But there is still much more to be done. We will continue to innovate and work with partners to help achieve even more. By sharing and implementing the learnings from this landmark solar programme, we will help build more sustainable ways of working.