It is natural that the oil-rich regions of the United Arab Emirates depend heavily on this natural resource to meet their energy demands. Using oil and natural gas, the DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) produces 7,361 MW (or 7.361GW) of power. In reality, this is sufficient as the peak demand has never crossed 6000MW till now. The most famous among the seven emirates forming the UAE, Dubai, wishes to diversify its economy and energy mix. Desiring to increase dependence on renewable sources of energy to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels, a 12-billion UAE dirham (or $3.27 billion) project has been announced that will make use of photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP).
Named in the honor of the ruler of Dubai, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which was collectively launched by the ruler, Prime minister and the Vice President of UAE. It targets a production of 1GW of clean, renewable solar energy. The project has been implemented by Dubai’s SCE (Supreme Council of Energy) to be managed and operated by the state-owned DEWA. However, this does not rule out private participation. The Dubai government has, in fact, stated categorically that future projects will have investments from the private companies as well. The future solar-power development has been planned to take forms of both – the rooftop solar PV systems and ground-mounted solar power systems.
The project will begin with an initial capacity of 10MW and the engineering consulting bids are being evaluated for the same. The tenders for developers of the same will be open from June. The initial phase of the project would be complete by 2013. The final completion of the project, which will span a 18-square mile plot of land, at Seih Al Dahal near the Dubai-Al Ain road, would be complete by 2030. Currently, only 1 percent of the state’s energy requirements are being met through a 4.5-MW solar power project. By 2030, this will rise to 5 percent. On the face of it, 5 percent may seem a small proportion but thinking of it as increasing the dependence on solar power by five times in just 10 years shows the impact and magnitude of the effort.
There has been a spurt of renewable power projects in the region. Abu Dhabi has announced a 100MW solar PV project costing Dhr 2.2 billion (US$600 million). The tender has been awarded to the Spain’s Albengoa and France’s Total. Abu Dhabi has an ambitious seven percent renewable energy target for 2020. The entire UAE region depends heavily on oil and natural gas for the sustenance of their economy. With the worldwide inclination towards non-conventional energy sources, the Middle-east region of the world does not want to be left behind. Such progressive steps augur well for the future.