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Alberto Torner, the Head of Middle East, Turkey, and the Caucasus, speaks to Future Tech, about the company’s initiatives in harnessing solar energy for water heating in the region

Please tell us about your solar energy solutions?
Ariston Thermo Group has been a leading brand in thermal comfort for the past 90 years and has committed itself to a long-term challenge: reach 80% of its sold products only on high-energy efficiency and renewable products in order to bring a tangible change in the world we are living in. We offer solar water heating solutions for both residential and commercial applications, through our wide range of Thermosiphon and forced circulation systems which are efficient, reliable, and economic.

Can you tell us about any existing installations in the region?
Ariston ME has completed several high-profile projects recently including many well-known buildings and complexes, such as DoubleTree Resort & Spa by Hilton; around 3000 villas in Mohammad Bin Rashid City show village; La Casa, a community of 253 villas by Emaar; PETROFAC Tower 2; Garhoud Private Hospital; and Al Warqa School.

Most new projects have installed solar power or a hybrid to save energy. These projects are a mix of educational institutions, hospitals, hotels, villas, residential buildings, and staff accommodation.

Are these approved for end-user installation?
We have our own service center which offers end-to-end installation, testing and commissioning of all our products as it is always advisable that such products should be installed by trained personnel or experienced plumbers only.

Does one need to get permission for installing such solutions at their properties? Do you help your customers with that?
No prior authority permission is needed to carry the installation of solar systems, on the contrary, it is the authorities and municipalities who are encouraging the utilization of renewable solar systems for the generation of hot water. Since March 2012, new buildings with a single owner, such as hotels, workers’ dwellings, private villas, shopping malls, and public buildings, have had to cover at least 75 % of their annual hot water requirements by solar energy, provided that enough roof space is available.

The UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda focuses on improving the quality of air, preserving water resources, increasing the contribution of clean energy, and implementing green growth plans and we at Ariston, aim to provide everyone, in every corner of the world, with high-quality heating and water heating solutions, while protecting the environment.

What sort of maintenance is required for such solutions?
It is extremely simple to maintain a solar system. These systems require minor maintenance, mainly related to panel cleaning and time to time visual checks, in addition to solar tank check every 18 months.

Are these solutions cost-effective in the longer run, compared with traditional electric supply?
The solar system solutions we offer are highly cost-effective, offering on an average – 75% energy savings through the utilization of the free solar energy, which results in huge savings on the electric bill. Furthermore, on average, Ariston solar system has a payback period between 3-4 years.

There is a concept of going completely “off-grid” in many global markets. Are these allowed in the MEA region and are these feasible?
Off-grid systems are related to photovoltaic (PV) systems generating electricity. On the other hand, our solar system solutions are intended to provide hot water production. Nevertheless, since our solar systems offer a high reduction of electricity consumption, they are suitable to be installed in off-grid buildings.

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