The UAE is a pioneering country in developing the renewable and clean energy sector and finding alternatives to conventional energy sources.
The country is continuing its efforts to achieve its objectives for the next 50 years, which include leading the efforts to ensure the energy sector’s sustainability, benefit future generations, promote sustainable development and support climate action.
The launch of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is the outcome of the efforts to develop and promote clean and renewable energy solutions, preserve natural resources, and reduce carbon emissions.
COP28, which will be hosted by the UAE at Expo City Dubai from 30th November to 12th December, 2023, will offer a platform for promoting the UAE’s journey towards achieving comprehensive sustainable development and showcasing the country’s major clean energy projects, most notably its solar energy projects that help mitigate the effects of climate change and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
One of the world’s largest solar energy projects is the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Energy Park in Dubai, which utilises an independent production system and will produce 5,000 megawatts (MW) of power by 2030. The park will also boost climate action efforts by offsetting over 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
The park, managed by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), has a current production capacity of 2,327 MW using photovoltaic and concentrated solar power, constituting nearly 15.7 percent of Dubai’s overall electricity production capacity totalling 14,817 MW. The park adds to the achievement of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, the emirate’s carbon neutrality strategy for 2050.
In January 2012, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced the launch of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.
The park’s Phase I, with a capacity of 13 MW, began operating in October 2013 and uses some153,000 photovoltaic panels connected to 13 transformers located in reflective buildings to convert 33 kilovolts and generate 28 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, helping reduce more than 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
In March 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced the launch of the park’s Phase II, with a production capacity of 200 MW of photovoltaic energy, to provide clean energy for nearly 50,000 houses in Dubai and offset 214,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
This phase included the installation of 2.3 million photovoltaic panels over an area of 4.5 square kilometres. DEWA also proposed the lowest global price of US$5.6 cents per kilowatt-hour for Phase II at the launch of the tender.
In June 2016, DEWA said a coalition led by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) was awarded the project’s Phase III tender, which began operating in November 2020 with an 800-MW production capacity.
The authority announced a new international record for photovoltaic production cost after offering the lowest global price of 2,99 cents for every kilowatt/hour.
Using a single-axis solar tracking system that boosts energy productivity by 20 to 30 percent, the project’s third phase is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region. It has 3 million solar panels utilising advanced technologies that provide clean energy to over 240,000 homes in Dubai and offset 1.055 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
In September 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced Phase IV of the project.
This phase is the world’s largest single-site project that combines two types of solar power technologies: concentrated solar power and photovoltaic power, with a total capacity of 950 MW, of which 517 MW is already operational. The remaining work is under construction.
This phase employs three common technologies that have a combined capacity of 700 MW using concentrated solar energy, which consists of a system of parabolic reflectors with a 600-MW capacity or three units with 200 MW each; the world’s tallest solar power tower at 262.44 metres with a 100-MW capacity using molten salt technology; and photovoltaic solar panels with a 250-MW capacity.
Phase IV of the project is the world’s largest solar power storage project, which provides solar power 24 hours per day. This phase will generate sufficient clean energy for nearly 320,000 homes and reduce nearly 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
In November 2019, the coalition that will implement Phase V of the project with a 900-MW production capacity.
DEWA achieved a world record by receiving the lowest bid of USD 1.6953 cents per kilowatt hour (kW/h) during this phase, and 800 MW of this phase is in operation while the rest is in progress. Phase V will provide sufficient clean energy for over 270,000 homes in Dubai, and will reduce nearly 1.18 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
In March 2023, DEWA organised a conference to brief local and international developers about Phase VI of the project, whose production capacity will total 1,800 MW. The phase will be operational between 2024 and 2026.
The Innovation Centre
The park’s Innovation Centre is a global innovation hub in the energy and water sectors, providing a unique educational environment by hosting events and forging partnerships in areas of innovation and the exchange of expertise and knowledge.
The centre enables visitors to explore recent inventions in the field of clean energy, as well as creates shows using drones and hologram technology and tests new interactive experiences, including self-driving cars and the Metaverse.
The Research and Development Centre
DEWA’s Research and Development Centre, part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, aims to become a global platform for generating creative solutions and technologies to improve DEWA’s operations and services.
The centre’s areas of work include solar power, smart system integration, energy efficiency and water, as well as the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics, drones and 3D printing, along with space technologies and energy systems analysis.
Since its inception, the centre has registered eight patents and published 154 papers. It has 48 researchers, including 32 PhD and Masters degree holders.
The Green Hydrogen Project
The Research and Development Centre is also involved in DEWA’s “Green Hydrogen Project,” in collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai and Siemens Energy, and is the first of its kind in the region to produce hydrogen through solar power.
The Green Data Centre
In February 2023, the Green Data Centre was launched as the world’s largest data centre operating on solar power, according to the Guinness Book of Records.