The UAE is making huge strides to diversify and shift from its heavy dependency on oil by investing in sustainable energy, especially solar energy.
But how do you ensure that even remote locations have access to green power?
In an expansive interview, general manager Rasso Bartenschlager explains that Al Masaood Power Division is tackling this challenge head-on by delivering a new generation of power solutions to the market which could help the UAE find greener ways to power its vehicles and equipment – wherever they may be.
What strikes you immediately about Al Masaood Power Division is both the scale of its operation and ambition for electric vehicle charging and making solar power much more practical for the private sector. A fully realised subsidiary of the Al Masaood group, Bartenschlager has the support of a diverse team of over 200 employees to call upon, and it is a team that has always placed customer service and satisfaction as its number one priority as it strives to innovate.
“Over the years, the team has done a great job which resulted in us achieving multiple
accolades, including the Volvo Penta Aftermarket importer of the Year in 2016, the Yacht Support Center in the Middle East in 2018, hosting the Rolls-Royce Power Systems World Distributor Conference in 2018 in Abu Dhabi and the highest growth in the PowerGen business in the Middle East in 2020,” he tells T&FME proudly, adding 2022 has seen it add to its roll-call of achievements.
“So far this year, we have achieved three major accomplishments. We successfully launched SHAMS+, a first of its kind UAE-built smart charging solution for electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid marine vessels that has been awarded with the ‘Innovative Smart Electric Charging Solution Award’ at the prestigious Sustainability Innovation Awards 2022,” he says.
“We also signed an agreement with German designed, French operated company, Sunstream International to spearhead the future of solar energy solutions in the GCC region and we received the Rolls-Royce Power Systems Sustainable Lighthouse Award 2022.”
As one of the early players in the UAE’s power industry, the Al Masaood Power Division has witnessed the country’s transition to clean energy which does not compromise energy security and cost.
“To support this vital industry, we have introduced various energy solutions in the market that are helping with the evolution to sustainable and green energy in line with the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative.”
Of those recent announcements, it is arguably SHAMS+ (SHAMSPLUS) which has captured the most attention and imagination of the UAE public, ever since the containerised and off-grid charging technology was revealed at the EVIS 2022 conference earlier this year.
During the event, it was demonstrated how the off-grid solar-powered solution can be installed in urban or rural locations, and marine ports; providing green power wherever it is needed.
Backed-up by smart internet-based and universal charging set-ups, charging a vehicle could take as little as 25 minutes at the highest charging speeds. Considering that this is all powered by sustainable solar energy, it is fair to say SHAMS+ is at the cutting edge in a market that is still building up its traditional charging infrastructure. In fact, it is arguably at the cutting edge of what is possible anywhere.
“It is a solution also offers the highest convenience and efficiency as well as easy installation. It is a smart solar-powered solution that will not only help decarbonise the transport industry, but will also foster EV adoption in the agriculture, industrial, construction and marine sectors,” he explains. “It is an effective solution for marine docks, for the desert, agricultural fields, and interstate highways; as it is a plug and play solution that runs on solar energy.”
Given the scope of potential uses, Bartenschlager unsurprisingly describes SHAMS+ as a new chapter in Al Masaood Power Division’s sustainability journey. Reiterating that this is the first solution of its kind to be launched in the UAE, he says, proudly, that SHAMS+ is also in line with a corporate vision to reduce carbon emissions and help accelerate the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative’s goals.
“With an extensive network of universal charging stations that can cater to all battery needs of the automotive and maritime sectors, we intend to make our services available even in remote, hard to reach or hard to connect areas,” he comments.
Those areas should also benefit from the deal with Sunstream International to bring the French company’s containerised solar panel solution to the UAE. Al Masaood wants to create the widest and the most sustainable range of plug & play, flexible, modular and movable solar power solutions in the market. Sunstream’s technology broadens the possibilities of generating green power and local electricity in hazardous, remote, and challenging conditions, says Bartenschlager.
“These solutions can be employed across various sectors such as agriculture, oil and gas, mining, and defence and decurity in the GCC region,” he remarks, adding: “By making such technology available, we are promoting the use of renewable energy in place of fossil fuels”
Bartenschlager explains that Al-Masaood Power Division is developing and offering products and solutions (both hybridsand microgrid) that could ultimately account for 82% of clean energy and gas energy sources in the UAE: “The UAE promotes the use of microgrids in line with the goals of UAE Energy Strategy 2050 and our greener solutions can operate and deliver energy independently wherever it is required.”
Off-grid EV charging solutions also provide cost-effective charging compared to installing permanent charging stations that require electric grid upgrades, line extensions, and create expensive demand fees. Bartenschlager believes that with the right combination of power generation and energy storage, it should be possible to potentially lower energy costs: vital at a time when there are global concerns regarding the cost and security of traditional forms of power generation.
“A containerised charging station can combine with renewable energy sources like solar and wind, power generators using biofuels or natural gas, for an entirely off-grid, sustainable, net-zero EV charging if a connection to the electric grid is not possible,” he explains.
Over the years, nations all over the world have taken significant steps to diversify their energy sources by moving away from a strong reliance on oil and toward investments in renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind energy and biofuels.
Bartenschlager tells T&FME that the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent spike in fuel prices have hastened this transformation even more:“This energy transition offers a crucial link to medium- and long-term global climate and sustainability goals as part of short-term stimulus and recovery plans.”
As the UAE’s Energy Strategy 2050 takes on full momentum, Al Masaood Power is eager to support in providing clean and sustainable energy solutions in any way it can.
“The country’s various industries are now directing their focus on employing cleaner energy practices, which gives us a wide opportunity to extend to them the needed support. We are constantly on the lookout for any prevailing opportunities that will help us in our drive to support the UAE in its sustainable energy agenda,” says Bartenschlager, adding that the Al Masaood can offer both the private and public sector knowledge accumulated from working in the market for over five decades.
“Utilising the gained experience and expertise, connecting this with the market trends and new technologies, is a good foundation of providing innovative solutions in a timely manner,” he says. “The more difficult part is to create the market opportunities that the market is not aware of, or a demand is not yet available.”
While charging infrastructure for EVs and hybrids is a huge problem globally, Bartenschlager notes that the UAE government has taken several steps – including making significant investments and providing subsidies to encourage private companies – to improve the nation’s charging infrastructure.
“These measures are being taken to overcome these challenges in the adoption of EVs in line with the UAE vision 2050,” he tells T&FME.
“Also, the advancements in technology to lower the charging time and the rapid construction of charging stations are expected to bolster the market demand over the next five years.
“The UAE electric vehicle charging infrastructure market is anticipated to grow at a robust CAGR in the forecast period, 2023-2027. Since EVIS 2022, customers, operators or investors understand the value proposition of this solution, and a continuous inflow of enquiries and requests has been registered. Moreover, many of those clients are now ready to connect the dots in their sustainable strategy, especially when it comes to a seamless operation when implementing E-mobility solutions.”
Bartenschlager sees the UAE as a country that is preparing to be ready for the adoption of electric vehicles, but he says the market for sustainable energy, which benefits from a sizable consumer base and government assistance, is ideal for investments in the electrification of transportation.
“The country already has many success stories of private sector entities putting significant efforts and investments in accelerating the transition to sustainable mobility. The popularity of eco-friendly alternatives to internal combustion engine automobiles is also being fueled by consumer awareness of climate change. The UAE is driving the transition to electric vehicles in the area and plans to have 42,000 electric vehicles operating on its roads by 2030.”
The UAE has witnessed a significant shift towards the adoption of EVs during the last decade, Bartenschlager believes we are witnessing customers becoming more environmentally sensitive forcing manufacturing companies to adapt to the changing demands.
“The adoption of any new technology is always driven by the demand and supply. Furthermore, the European Union countries endorsed a push to eliminate carbon emissions from new cars by 2035, effectively indicating the end of the era of the internal combustion engine. This vision and other trends have encouraged automobile manufacturers to bring more EV models to the market every year, with major players putting significant investment for electrification of their fleets,” he says.
“A study in Abu Dhabi highlights that the demand for EVs is up by 200% amidst the fuel price hike in the past two quarters. Another survey conducted recently found that almost 82% of UAE respondents are considering an EV as their next vehicle, while 90% are considering a hybrid.
“With companies such as M Glory launching Damani – its first UAE-manufactured EV, by employing sustainable future technologies and robotics in the manufacture of EVs, the UAE is marching steadily towards its goal of proliferating electric mobility across the country in the coming years.”
Accessibility of fast charging stations and availability of a diverse range of electric vehicles are two essential factors that encourage more customers to switch to electric or hybrid vehicles, he explains.
“Mostly what discourages people from buying EVs could be the presence of differing charger types and limited charging stations. However, to propel the country’s infrastructure for electric vehicle charging, the government and private sector are stepping up their efforts. Subsidies provided by governments to shift from traditional vehicles, acquisition costs and running costs are also important factors in the adoption of EVs in the UAE.”
He adds that the shift in consumer attitudes, may be leading to a move of logistics and transport companies to take greener vehicles and equipment more seriously in the region.
“As an emerging global logistics hub, the UAE is well situated to become a model for responsible green supply chain (GSC) procedures,” says Bartenschlager. “Sustainability initiatives that have been implemented in the UAE logistics and transport sector are analysed in the context of their worth, resilience, and relationship to the key drivers of their success.”
He concludes: “Businesses have begun to embrace using electric vehicles for delivery. Given the growing connections between the logistics sector and electric mobility, EVs have shown to be a wise investment.
“Businesses using sustainable vehicles to move freight, goods, and packages have benefited greatly from government subsidies and various economic incentives. Due to their great manoeuvrability and low carbon footprint, EVs are very efficient for last-mile deliveries. They provide clean air circulation, significantly reduce carbon emissions, and are beneficial for small cities, metropolitan areas, and enclosed spaces.”