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The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park highlights Dubai’s international position in sustainable development

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park highlights Dubai’s international position in sustainable development


Sustainable development has been the focus of major international activities and events in 2015. They focused on climate change, the importance of preserving natural resources, and dependence on clean and renewable resources to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and the Earth’s rising temperatures. The 2015 UN Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris was one of the most important activities worldwide, gathering presidents, kings and leaders to combat climate change and reach a new international agreement for forming a framework for efforts to address the effects of climate change. The UAE participated actively in the conference, with its delegation promoting the UAE’s pioneering projects on climate change and the search for sustainable energy resources.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park had a great influence on the conference as it reflected the UAE government and the visions of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, show the considerable importance attached to environmental sustainability and the happiness and living standards of the citizens, residents and visitors of the UAE, by providing a healthy environment for the public that is ideal for living, working, and visiting.

This supports the UAE Vision 2021’s goal to transform the UAE into one of the best countries in the world by 2021, and the Dubai Plan 2021 for the Emirate to become a smart, integrated, and connected city that sustainably manages its resources and has a clean, healthy and sustainable environment in line with Dubai’s development strategy.

The delegation chaired by HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), highlighted Dubai’s adoption of a clear strategy and ambitious vision for developing and establishing sustainable energy projects in Dubai. Dubai has raised its targets for renewable energy mix to 7% by 2020 and 25% by 2030, based on the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050.

DEWA’s efforts support the long-term national Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to build a green economy in the UAE. DEWA’s vision is to ensure the Emirates’ continuous growth and, at the same time, protect its natural resources and shape the future of energy in the region as a whole. This will achieve sustainable development and promote the welfare and well-being of citizens, residents, and visitors, and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

“The importance of the project lies in two points: it is the first of its kind in the region, and in its capacity. It is the first of several promising projects to use renewable energy to generate electricity in Dubai. Generating electricity by using solar power, which is available in our country all year round, requires the latest technologies available in the global market. This plays a major role in supporting our country’s sustainable development plans, preserving our natural resources, and protecting the environment,” said Al Tayer.

The Launch of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park at Seih Al Dahal in early 2012. The first phase was successfully completed after one year, with a capacity of 13 megawatts (MW). Since the project was launched in October 2013, it has been able to produce clean energy and reduce carbon emissions and has been adopted by the Dubai Executive Council as a model for clean development. The first project of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, based on the independent power producer (IPP) model, achieved great success. It is another pioneering accomplishment that takes Dubai and the UAE to the forefront in the region in producing renewable and clean energy.

Since the announcement of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the project has attracted huge interest from the business and energy sector. DEWA received several offers from international solar energy companies, reflecting the trust and interest from investors in large projects adopted by the Dubai Government. Encouraged by the favourable existing regulatory and legislative frameworks in Dubai that permit private sector partnerships in power production projects in the Emirate, several global developers have shown interest in investing in the development and implementation of the park’s projects.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park provides promising opportunities for Dubai. DEWA is working to provide solar energy to citizens and residents in Dubai by cooperating with the most efficient and capable stakeholders to guarantee a brighter future for everyone.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will have a number of world-class facilities. These include a solar-testing facility to study and evaluate the performance, long-term stability and reliability of the panels under actual local weather conditions. It also collaborates with international organisations on soiling and dust mitigation on photovoltaic equipment. The tests are currently being performed to set a baseline for the development of specifications, tests and standards for photovoltaic equipment.

The park will be a platform for the latest solar and renewable energy technologies. It will enable DEWA to demonstrate its own achievements in renewable energy and sustainability, and highlight the green strategies incorporated in the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050.

The Second Phase of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has inaugurated the second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in November 2015. The second phase is based on the Independent Power Producer model and will be operational by April 2017.

DEWA increased the capacity of the second project to 200MW, which will be ready by April 2017. DEWA also increased the capacity of the third phase of the project to 800MW, based on the Independent Power Producer model. This is another achievement that will put the UAE at the forefront of clean and renewable energy generation in the region.

The park will also house several world-class facilities, including a 400/132kV substation rated at 570 megavolt-amperes (MVA), at a cost of AED 275 million. All of these elements contributed to DEWA winning the Best Sustainable Project of the Year in the UAE at the 2014 MEED Quality Awards. This is the first time this award was given to a renewable energy project in the region. DEWA also won an award for Distinguished Technical Project at the 18th Dubai Government Excellence Programme Awards (DGEP).

“HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launching the second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park marks the beginning of a new era of an economy that is based on environmental sustainability and clean energy. This supports the vision of His Highness for Dubai to be the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world. This also supports the long-term National Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative launched by His Highness to build a green economy in the UAE.

Moreover, the park affirms Dubai’s leading role in solar energy and creates a new sector in the region. Our wise leadership realises the importance of providing energy supplies and finding alternative solutions to traditional energy, and the importance of developing renewable and alternative energy because of its direct impact on sustainable development,” said Al Tayer.

The Third Phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park
DEWA has received 5 bids from international organisations for the third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The lowest recorded bid at the opening of the envelopes was USD2.99 cents per kilowatt hour. The next step in the bidding process will review the technical and commercial aspects of the bids to select the best one.

DEWA had released a request for the Expression of Interest (EOI) for the 800MW third phase of the solar park on 8 September 2015 and received 95 EOI responses from international solar organisations between 8—29 September 2015. DEWA requested companies submit their requests for qualification before November 2015. This was followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP) to qualified bidders on 28 December 2015.

On completion of the third phase, the park will ultimately generate over 1,000 MW by 2020 and is planned to generate 5,000 MW by 2030, at a total cost of AED 50 billion.

DEWA will invest AED 65 billion in Dubai’s energy and water sector over the next five years to meet increasing demand. This will provide considerable investment opportunities, support the growth of a green economy and create a competitive advantage for the UAE in clean energy and energy-efficiency technologies. DEWA has also allocated over AED 2.6 billion to support electricity, water and renewable energy infrastructure projects according to the highest international standards. This will contribute to the organisation of the best World Expo in 2020 in Dubai. DEWA will focus on renewable energy sources to support the Dubai Expo’s theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and its three sub themes of Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity.

Solar Testing Centre

The pioneering solar park includes a centre for innovation equipped with the latest renewable clean energy technologies, which will also be a museum for solar and renewable technologies. The Solar Park includes a Research and Development (R&D) Centre for conducting studies on industrial and social needs and scientific research on renewable energy. It also acts as a link between researchers and developers to develop strategies for productive and innovative ideas. The Solar Park has two test technologies for photovoltaic panels and for concentrated solar power (CSP) as well. The first centre tests 30 types of photovoltaic panels from international manufacturers. The panels are studied, evaluated, and tested for long-term reliability against the weather conditions faced by the region. The park will also have a training centre and a special conference centre to act as a platform for the exchange of expertise, information and innovation, and will use the best advances in R&D to achieve sustainable development.

The Solar Testing Centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is one of the biggest photovoltaic testing centres in the region, and one of the most important and best centres in the world, it is part of R&D Centre at the park.

DEWA places the highest emphasis on research and development to support the vision and directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to enhance innovation in line with the National Innovation Strategy to make the UAE one of the most innovative countries in the world. Research and development and solar energy testing increase the reliability and durability of photovoltaic modules and consequently reduce risk and uncertainty in photovoltaic performance due to the severe conditions and long periods of time under which photovoltaic modules are required to operate.

Further analysis on the tested modules will provide valuable information on the technology characteristics that can help improve photovoltaic performance in the region under various climates. The Solar Testing Facility will play an important role in supporting this initiative. DEWA has developed the standards and the guidelines for connecting low- and medium-voltage Distributed Renewable Resource Generators to its network. It is currently working on an equipment-eligibility scheme to ensure compliance with these requirements. The R&D team is currently engaging in various international solar energy initiatives and projects across the world. DEWA is seeking participation and leadership in a number of projects in the GCC photovoltaic laboratory network and the Photovoltaic Quality Assurance Task Force. TÜV Rheinland has developed a training programme for DEWA staff for the implementation, operation, testing and reporting phases.

The Testing Facility studies and evaluates the performance, long-term stability and reliability of various photovoltaic panels using the most sophisticated and accurate equipment. The highest standards and techniques of testing, controlling, monitoring, evaluation and reporting are applied. The centre will test solar cell technologies and photovoltaic panel technologies and manufacturing for greater flexibility.

This centre will also assess other aspects to cope with various weather conditions and the surrounding environment in both cases when photovoltaic panels are used in open spaces or integrated into buildings.

The main tasks of the solar testing facility include dust impact and mitigation modelling, understanding physical and chemical properties of local dust and surfaces, field tests for new approaches, understanding the effects of soiling, module lifetime modelling, endurance tests, analysis of activation energy for field defects, reliability and quality modelling, field failure or degradation prediction correlation with current accelerated tests, development of new accelerated tests customised for Dubai’s climate, and technological assessment of performance. The Testing Centre has several sections including a measurement room, control room, and offices. A test site has four racks of photovoltaic modules in rows, each tilted differently to simulate all installation conditions and designs. Data is displayed in parallel as per remote transfer to DEWA offices or to the control room at TÜV in Cologne, where detailed analysis of the data will be carried out.

The Centre supports DEWA’s vision of enhancing sustainability in energy supplies, diversifying energy resources, and creating a work environment that encourages innovation. It also advances Dubai’s strategy of building a knowledge-based economy by improving efficiency criteria, and supporting renewable energy initiatives, especially those related to solar energy, as well as DEWA’s other activities. The Centre enhances Dubai’s position as an international centre of research and development in solar energy, smart grids, and electricity and water efficiency. It will improve the capabilities of buildings in these sectors so Dubai can meet its sustainable development requirements. It will contribute to the establishment of an innovative platform for renewable energy and clean technologies, with the requisite national workforce to be trained to use them. The Centre is scheduled for completion by the 1st quarter of 2017.

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network


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