The growing retrofit market in Dubai does not have enough players working to meet its requirements, according to Ali Mohd Al Jassim, chief executive officer of Etihad Energy Services Company (Etihad ESCO).

Speaking to Construction Week on the sidelines of the 4th annual RetrofitTech Dubai Summit & Awards, Al Jassim revealed that Etihad ESCO has more than 50 retrofit projects in the pipeline for Dubai but cannot implement them due to a shortage of contractors working in the sector.

“We have approximately more than 50 projects in the pipeline, but we cannot roll them out because the number of companies working are not enough,” he said.

READ: Etihad ESCO to deliver six retrofit projects in Dubai by Q2 2019

“The capacity of people needs enhancement, and the number of [retrofit] companies that exist in Dubai also needs to be increased. We have around 20 [companies at the moment], but we need three times more.”


He added that Etihad ESCO recently launched a “capacity-building training programme”, consisting of 12 courses per year, with the first training session held at the start of this month and the next one scheduled for 18 April.

“We will train people within government entities and companies within the energy sector, like contractors,” said Al Jassim, adding that while the number of contractors interested in carrying out retrofit projects has increased over the years, more are needed.

READ: Etihad ESCO to retrofit Dubai International Airport terminals, hotel

“We had three contractors before but now they are 21,” he continued. “We need to have at least 60 soon, because we have more than 50 retrofit projects in the pipeline that are worth more than $108.9m (AED400m).”

Those numbers do not include solar projects, noted Al Jassim: “For solar, the pipeline is around 30 projects.”

Presenting at the summit, Al Jassim highlighted the energy efficiency targets that Etihad ESCO is aiming to achieve by 2030. These include saving 5.6 billion imperial gallons of water and 1.7TWh of electricity, and cutting carbon emissions by one million tons.

He also cited the results of several case studies that Etihad ESCO has conducted, with one showing that the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has achieved 30% energy savings, equivalent to $544,530 (AED2m), through retrofit projects. This was reportedly a result of the replacement of chiller plants, a significant retrofit of HVAC systems, and the retrofit of seven DEWA buildings. 

Al-Jassim remarked during his presentation: “It is important that we continue raising awareness in Dubai on the benefits of retrofitting and its positive impact on the environment.

“We are working closely with residential groups, government [and] commercial entities, and industrial organisations to provide support and assistance on education around energy efficiency and sustainability. This event goes a long way in spreading the message and in setting new targets for the future.”

“We have launched the Dubai Energy Efficiency Training Program which is a consortium of three local and international partners who will deliver 19 training sessions, offering 12 certifications for members. Initiatives like these will help educate and motivate people to consider changes in technology that will lead to more energy-efficient buildings across the Emirate,” said Al-Jassim. 

It was also revealed at the event that Etihad ESCO has signed its first project outside of Dubai, which covers the retrofit of two industrial facilities in Abu Dhabi, and that it will now be managing the labelling scheme for existing buildings in Dubai, under the leadership of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and the regulation of Dubai RSB.