A new strategy to promote solar thermal technology in the Arab region is bearing fruit: Hosted by the German Institute for Solar and Heating Technology, SWT, the kick-off meeting for the Solar Water Heaters Certification Programme (ARSOL) took place in the south of Germany at the beginning of June. The initial strategy is to create an ARSOL network based on a certification programme similar to the Solar Keymark in Europe or the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) in the US. Some of the Arab countries already adapted the European Standards such as Tunisia.
The initiative came from the Arab Ministerial Council for Electricity, whose executive office made the request to the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE) and the Arabian Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO) at the end of the year 2011.
“ARSOL should empower RCREEE to become a regional certification body,” Ashraf Kraidy, RCREEE´s Senior Expert, explained during his presentation at the Intersolar Europe in Munich in June. RCREEE is an independent regional policy think-tank based in Egypt, dedicated to promoting renewable energies and energy efficiency in the MENA region. All in all, its member list includes 13 countries.
The ARSOL network itself consists of many different groups, among them energy authorities, industry organisations, certification bodies, testing laboratories, inspection bodies, consumer NGOs and other stakeholders. “We have already welcomed 28 members into the ARSOL network,” Kraidy said in Munich. The senior expert´s target is to agree on a certification model for solar water heaters until the end of 2012. Afterwards, the new certification model is going to be presented to the executive office of the Arab Ministerial Council for Electricity. After having the model approved on the ministerial level, it could be discussed and implemented in each of the Arab states.
Kraidy also talked about the status quo of the solar water heater market in all 13 countries. There is only one country in the Arab region today which actually has a certification scheme: Tunisia. In addition, Tunisia and also Lebanon are the two states already subsidising solar water heating technology. Morocco is thinking about a new support scheme. It is not surprising that these countries are among the net energy importers, which include Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Palestine.
According to Kraidy, the largest solar water heater markets in terms of total cumulated collector area are Palestine, Jordan and Syria. They have already had more than 700,000 m² of collector area installed.