With the inevitable depletion of traditional fuel sources, many nations are now spending time, money and effort into the development of alternative and renewable energy sources, and Dubai seems to be ahead of the game.

Dubai has started construction on what is to be the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world ambitiously stating that they are planning to have it operational by the fourth quarter of 2020.

A report from Arab News stated that, ‘the plant will have an estimated capacity of 700 megawatts and a power storage system that will keep the lights of Dubai shining for up to 15 hours after sunset.  The project will comprise the world’s tallest solar tower of 260 meters, and is said to be as tall as Emirates Towers in Dubai.  The solar power plant will cover 3,750 hectares- i.e.  equivalent to 4,500 football fields. The solar park as a whole is expected to produce five gigawatts when completed. Noor Energy 1, as the project is called, will dwarf the current record holder, Noor-Ouarzazate CSP in Morocco.’

Abdulhameed Al-Muhaidib, the director of asset management at Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, explained the difference between regular solar panels and concentrated solar power technology:

«It’s a completely different technology because you have to do a heat exchange and (use) steam turbines, a process that makes it more expensive than solar PV, the main benefit is storage because you can store heat, while in panels you can’t and lithium batteries are still expensive.»  This statement comes from the fact that at this time Lithium-ion batteries are the only plausible option that has he as a potential means of storing solar energy

He further explained they will not be using water to store the sun’s heat, it will instead store the concentrated sunlight in molten salt thereby retaining its heat longer compared to water. This will allow for the energy to be stored long after the sun sets, at a lesser expense.  Once needed, the heated salt will be pumped out of storage and used to boil water to make steam. When the salt has cooled, it can then be recycled and used again.

The city is trying to increase the percentages shared by renewable energy by 7 percent by 2020, 25 percent by 2030 and 75 percent by 2050.

While the technology of concentrated solar power remains largely unknown to the general public, it will soon be powering up one of the most magnificent cities in the world.