In Conversation With Ayham Mkalalati, Head Of On-Grid Business, SirajPower

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SolarQuarter Middle East interviewed Mr. Ayham Mklalati, Head of On-Grid Business, SirajPower. As Head of On-Grid Business, Ayham is responsible for the full business spectrum, from sales and development through execution of SirajPower’s grid-connected business, and for leading the company’s strategic expansion plans into new markets. Having held senior positions across the solar PV value chain, including business development, engineering, financing, execution, and operations & maintenance of utility-scale and distributed solar projects Ayham told us about the challenges faced, smart technologies being adopted in the region.  He also shared his outlook on the future of Solar in the Middle East region.

  1. How has the year 2020 been for SirajPower especially as this has been the pandemic year? Any key learnings?
  • 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, especially in a sales-focused organization, where ongoing lead generation & client interaction was limited
  • Our key learning was to learn to continuously adapt to changes that are happening on global and local levels. Our team embraced new and exciting ways to reach and communicate with our customers through various communication technologies & social media platforms.
  • We’ve seen a massive uptake in the C&I industry, even more so during the pandemic, which proves that SirajPower’s team & offering deliver best-in-class solar solutions
  1. Technological innovations are playing a remarkable role in the Solar sector. What are some of the key milestones achieved recently by your esteemed company with respect to technological advancements?
  • The beauty about SirajPower is that it is a lean organization, which quickly picks up on technological innovations and market trends
  • We started utilizing the highest efficiency solar modules, which helps us reduce the balance of plant costs, and improve efficiencies
  • Our Operations & Maintenance team has developed a comprehensive, custom-made online monitoring & control platform and we’ve set up a monitoring center at our office
  • Our R&D team is working on so many technologies, from portable solar + battery solutions, to more efficient and effective cleaning robots for rooftops
  1. As a developer, what are the key challenges you face in the Middle East Solar market and how have you overcome those?
  • Financing distributed solar is one of the key challenges in the Middle East market, which we’ve been able to overcome by focusing the last few years on growing a large enough portfolio that has attracted structured finance
  • Another challenge in the C&I sector is the duration of our sales cycle, but our team has learned how to demonstrate our value add and shorten the process by months
  1. Please give our readers a brief insight about the recently bagged solar project by SirajPower in the Middle East.
  • We’ve had a very successful year of signing projects, making our portfolio reach the 100 MW milestone within a short period of time, which is a remarkable achievement for us
  • SirajPower was awarded a 3 MW solar car park leasing project for Al Khail Heights, a thriving residential community in Dubai, proving that solar can be viable for more than traditional rooftop or ground-mounted applications
  • Major UAE conglomerates have recently partnered with SirajPower, to name a few: AI Shirawi Group, Airlink & Ajmal Perfumes
  1. What in your view is the growth outlook for the Middle East solar sector for the next 5 years?
  • I expect massive growth in the Middle East solar sector, both on the utility-scale & the distributed scale
  • We’re already seeing double-digit market growth exponentially increasing year-on-year
  • As the cost of renewable energy & supporting technologies decline, and energy subsidies are lifted, and customers or governments get more comfortable with this mature technology, there will be a continued natural uptake

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