Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East and North Africa, plans to use solar photovoltaic technology to generate at least 5 percent of its total energy consumption at existing developments by 2018.

The power that will be generated at existing developments is equivalent to 38,000 megawatt hours per year, and is comparable to the amount of energy produced by the largest power station in Bahrain, Al Dur, running at full capacity for over a day.

“Majid Al Futtaim has consistently made bold statements on sustainability. We are fully committed to supporting the UAE government’s development priorities and the Paris Agreement reached at COP-21. We can do this best by setting an example and taking actions that will encourage other stakeholders within the private sector to invest in renewable energy,” said Robert Welanetz, Chief Executive Officer at Majid Al Futtaim – Properties.

“The decision to invest in renewable energy comes as we approach the midway point in our five-year sustainability strategy. Solar technology at existing developments will help us to reduce our carbon footprint by 27,000 absolute tonnes of carbon emissions annually,” he added.

A white paper on Renewable Energy published by the company today suggests this emissions saving could be achieved for an investment of AED152 million, with returns delivered in as little as 9 years. This estimate is based on a 10.6 percent internal rate of return – the interest rate at which the value of cash flows from an investment equal zero.

In the last three years, Majid Al Futtaim has reduced energy consumption by 9 percent across the 12 hotels in its portfolio. It expects to save a further AED3 million by installing LED lighting at the 19 shopping malls that it manages across the region.

In line with this environmental commitment, Majid Al Futtaim will source a minimum of 7.5 percent minimum of its energy consumption at all new developments from solar energy. Integration of solar thermal and ground source cooling capacities at future projects is another option the company is looking into.

The company is also exploring offsite energy production, primarily concentrated solar power, wind power plants and large scale solar PV power installations. To support this process assessments are focused on identifying potential partnership opportunities.

“The business case for investing in renewable energy is strong, but the environmental case is equally as strong. United Nations officials have warned the populations of 22 Arab countries could hit 600 million by 2050 and that energy demand will place increasing pressure on existing infrastructure. However, renewable energy sources have the potential to meet 80 percent of global demand by the same year,” said Ibrahim Al-Zu’bi, Head of Sustainability at Majid Al Futtaim – Properties.

“Fortunately we live in a time where renewable technology and the cost of producing renewable energy have never been more competitive. We also have a government that is fully committed to renewable energy,” he added.

Al-Zu’bi will represent the retail, leisure, and entertainment pioneer when he delivers remarks at the 22nd Session of the United Nations climate talks (COP-22) in Morocco in 2016. He will also be responsible for realising Majid Al Futtaim’s new renewable energy targets. Last month Majid Al Futtaim Properties launched its fifth annual Sustainability Report for 2015, which evaluates corporate achievements and charts progress made against long-term goals for 2018.