Interview with Eng. Adil Alomair - Solar Energy Manager at AEC

As solar energy manager, Eng. Adil Alomair has managed to establish the solar energy sector as a new,  growing and strategically diversified business division at AEC, the Advanced Electronics Company. In this position, Alomair has been in charge of studying and assessing many new business opportunities within the solar energy value chain, including manufacturing, M&A, investment & partnerships opportunities. 

Eng. Adil, who holds a bachelors degree in Information Technology from the King Saud university, previously worked for King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (“KACST”), where he developed the space & aeronautic strategic plan and created the super computer department to support KACST researchers with the latest technologies. Before that he worked at King Fahad Medical City (“KFMC”), where he created the IT department that serves the college of medicine students. Adding to this widely varied list, he has also worked for the Royal Saudi Airforce, where he was in charge of F-15 Aircraft engines systems.


Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Adil. 
Can you please tell us a little bit more about your company and capacities?

Advanced Electronics Company is a systems integration and manufacturing organization under the Economic Offset Program of Saudi Arabia. With more than 25 years of history, 1200+ employees and having won numerous quality awards in the fields of Energy, Military, Information Technology & Telecommunications and Industrial solutions, AEC is recognized as one of the most respectable, reputable and technologically leading organizations in Saudi Arabia.
The Offset initiative is designed to facilitate economic diversification, manpower development self-sufficiency and technology transfer. AEC continues to achieve these objectives by creating local Saudi capabilities in strategic areas such as advanced electronics manufacturing technologies, Information and Communication Technologies, Security, Infrastructure Solutions, Managed Services etc., and is involved in the Systems Integration, Manufacturing, Operations and Maintenance of sophisticated electronic products and systems for the Energy, Military, Public Sector, Telecom, Industrial and Enterprise markets.

How is AEC’s solar branch currently doing? What are your latest developments and expansion plans? And which markets have your focus? 

AEC identified the solar energy arena as a strategic sector for the company growth. The diversification is aligned with Kingdom's ambitions towards mixed sustainable energy resources. Renewable energy technologies with a prime focus on solar energy will re-define country's future and developments within energy sector. 
Based on comprehensive studies on the solar energy value chain technologies, AEC has set its prime focus on improving, developing and manufacturing solar PV inverters". Our vision to excel in renewable energies is driven by our core business capabilities and aligned with current business nature.
A comprehensive analysis of international market players and their capabilities has made it possible for us to determine the best potential partners to work with AEC. We believe that our partnership with KACO (one of the market leaders) will lead to successful technology transfer & localization of PV Inverter Technologies.
In terms of geography, AEC is mainly focusing its  solar business activities within MENA region territory, particularly Saudi Arabia. 

What do you see as the major trends and trending topics in the global PV industry right now?

During the last 10 years, the global solar energy business went through many different challenges, starting from government support & subsidiaries that created hundreds of solar energy companies specialized in different technologies. Competition, supply and demand were the main drivers to reduce the solar energy material cost. Today it has become more viable and cheaper to generate electricity from solar energy rather than other traditional oil resources. PV technology will be in the driving seat of the solar energy arena due to the simplicity of the system and low O&M cost and headaches.

How will AEC distinguish itself from the competition, globally and within the Middle East

AEC has been in Saudi Arabia for more than 25 years. The capabilities and quality that have been built during the last 3 decades positioned AEC as a leader in the electronics manufacturing arena. Based on AEC experiences we can say that electronic technologies require to have a local manufacturer who can provide next door support to facilitate immediate help once needed, in addition to O&M services. On the other hand we should not forget the national objectives that will be accomplished by having local manufacturers for solar technologies such as technology transfer, job creation and economic recirculation. That makes us competitive and different from non-local manufacturers.

Which development has surprised you most in the past 5 years? And what do you think will surprise us in the coming years?

Solar energy technologies have reached the maturity stage where it becomes difficult to innovate other new technologies rather than developing the current technologies in matter of efficiency and so on. There was a time where CPV technologies were the best option to go with, but with the huge decrease in solar panel prices it became more viable to go with non-tracker technologies to avoid the O&M costs and difficulties. Of course CPV still a great technology, but not for large scale solar projects, not anymore. 

What will the solar energy market look like 5 years from now? And what will be the major changes compared to the market today? 

The last 7 years were very difficult for a lot of solar businesses.  Many companies went bankrupt and only strong companies survived. But now that international oil prices will continue increase, while the solar price will be in a stable situation for a while, demand will increase. Competition will still be there, but what’s going to make the difference is the quality of technology and business development strategies.

Where do you want AEC to be in five years from now? What do you want to achieve?

AEC will be the leader in solar energy technologies in MENA region, this is our solar vision. We will achieve 50% market share of solar business in MENA region and this is our target. 
Picture yourself in the year 2020...What market development did we underestimate in the past years?
Saudi Arabia will be the leader in solar energy business. Local consumption by itself is a huge market, exporting power to the other countries might be the new strategy. Saudi Arabia will be the biggest power provider, both in terms of oil AND solar. We’re currently connected to the internet through one network; this is exactly what’s going to happen in 2020, the whole world will be connected in one power network.


Do you have any other questions for Mr. Alomair, or would you like to explore partnerships or collaborations? Feel free to contact him at OmairA@aecl.com