In March, Abu Dhabi inaugurated its Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant. At 100MW it is the largest renewable energy project in the Arabian Gulf.
The UAE’s achievements in renewable energy this year are the result of years of planning and preparation. The UAE began to look for alternatives to gas-fired generation in 2008. In its policy document in April that year, it identified the merits of renewable power generation versus traditional generation.
In March, Abu Dhabi inaugurated its Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant. At 100MW it is the largest renewable energy project in the Arabian Gulf. It is also the UAE’s first project financed solar power facility.
Dubai set its sights on developing a solar power sector at a later stage than Abu Dhabi but in the past year the emirate has shown signs of catching up. Having unveiled its plan to develop 1,000MW of clean power at its Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in January last year, Dubai has already taken great strides forward. It launched a tender to build the park’s first solar project in April last year and commissioned it in October this year.
Both emirates have set ambitious targets for renewable energy usage. Abu Dhabi’s target is 7 per cent of total generation by 2020. Dubai aims to build enough renewable energy generation capacity to supply 5 per cent of its energy needs by 2030. However, “that does not mean that we won’t do more than that”, said Waleed Salman, the executive vice-president for strategy and business development at Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa).
Abu Dhabi launched its Future Energy Company (Masdar) in 2006 with the intention of exploring the potential of a range of renewable energy resources. Most of its projects have been solar powered because of the UAE’s high irradiation levels.
Masdar first installed a 1MW project, which was followed by a 10MW photovoltaic (PV) solar facility using two different types of technology. The Shams 1 solar thermal project, which was inaugurated earlier this year, uses concentrated solar power (CSP) technology.
According to Sebastian Fenk, the vice president of Germany’s KfW IPEX-Bank in Abu Dhabi, which was one of the financiers of the project, the UAE’s regulatory framework compares favourably to other countries in the region. “The yield conditions are excellent,” said Mr Fenk. “There is a general political commitment to promoting of renewables, particularly solar.”
Dubai’s renewable energy strategy is fixed squarely on solar power. “We tested the solar resources in Dubai,” said Dewa’s Mr Salman. “The