A solar future within a park of innovation

With concern over the impact of climate change mounting, power companies worldwide are turning to alternative technologies to meet global demand for energy in a cleaner and more sustainable way.

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The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

In recent years, Dubai has emerged as a recognized pioneer and innovator in the international renewable energy industry, developing a number of techniques and practices that are enhancing the efficiency of the energy sector, rationalizing consumption, finding alternative solutions to conventional energy and supporting sustainable development.

According to the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy launched in 2012 by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, 7% of Dubai’s total power output will come from clean energy by 2020. This target will increase to 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050, making Dubai the only city in the region to have launched such a wide-ranging strategy, with set goals and timelines that map the future of energy until 2050.

In 2012, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum inaugurated the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is now playing a major part in helping Dubai achieve these targets. It is the largest single-site solar park in the world with total installed generation capacity of 1,000 MW by 2020 and rising to 5,000 MW by 2030, with total investments worth up to $13.6 billion. Upon completion, the solar park will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 6.5 million tonnes annually.

HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer MD & CEO, DEWA

In October 2013, the 13 MW first phase of the solar park became operational. The project uses over 152,000 photocells, generating over 25 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually and decreasing carbon emissions by 15,000 tonnes a year.

In March 2017, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum inaugurated the 200 MW second phase of the solar park. The second phase generates clean energy for 50,000 residences in Dubai and has cut carbon emissions by 214,000 tonnes a year.

In June 2016, DEWA announced the consortium led by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) as the selected bidder for the 800 MW third phase of the solar park. The consortium bid 2.99 cents per kilowatt hour, the lowest cost for electricity, confirming the implementation of the third phase in stages until 2020. DEWA is building the 800 MW third phase in three stages. The first stage with a capacity of 200 MW became operational in May 2018. The 300 MW second stage will become operational in 2019 and the 300 MW third stage will become operational in 2020.

“We want to help make Dubai a global hub for clean energy.”
HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO, DEWA

Around the same time, and in adherence with the directives of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director & CEO of DEWA, announced the fourth phase of the park, primarily using Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). The solar park will be the largest single-site CSP project in the world, based on the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model.

DEWA awarded the project to a consortium comprising Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and the Silk Road Fund in cooperation with Shanghai Electric as a major contractor. The consortium bid the lowest Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour. The solar park will be home to the world’s tallest solar tower, measuring 260 meters.

In November 2018, DEWA signed an amendment to the Power Purchase Agreement with the consortium to add 250MW of photovoltaic solar panels, at a cost of just 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour, the world’s lowest. With this addition, the total capacity of the fourth phase of the solar park will rise from 700 MW to 950 MW. Three technologies will be used to produce clean energy: 600 MW from a parabolic basin complex, 100 MW from a solar tower and 250 MW from photovoltaic panels.

The solar park has garnered considerable interest from international developers since its launch. DEWA has also received a number of Expressions of Interest from international organizations, reflecting the confidence of international investors in the projects that are supported by Dubai government. Many global developers have expressed their desire to invest in the development and implementation of the solar park, which contributes to providing promising opportunities in Dubai.

DEWA is also developing a 90-meter-high Innovation Center at the solar park, equipped with the latest renewable and clean energy technologies. Through this, DEWA aims to raise awareness of sustainability, while enhancing national capabilities and increasing competitiveness.

The Innovation Center will be equipped with the latest clean and renewable energy technologies and will serve as a museum and exhibition showcasing the many possibilities and advantages of solar powerfull_stop

As published in TIME magazine