Dubai unveils 1,000 MW solar energy park

Shaikh Mohammad being briefed by Saeed Al Tayer during the launch of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Power Park. Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s Deputy Ruler, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Energy and other officials were also present.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday launched a Dh12 billion solar power project — the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park — that will ultimately have a capacity to generate 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar energy.

The solar project will be located on a 48-square kilometre area in Seih Al Dahal near the Dubai-Al Ain road and will use photovoltaic (PV) and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies.

The move comes as part of the emirate’s plan to diversify its energy mix and reduce dependency on oil and gas. The state-owned sole power supplier, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), has an installed capacity of 7,361 MW — all run on oil and gas, although its peak demand has remained well below 6,000 MW, its website shows.

The solar power project will be implemented by the Supreme Council of Energy (SCE) in Dubai and be managed and operated by Dewa. Its first phase will be built at a cost of Dh120 million and aims to generate 10 MW of power by the fourth quarter of 2013. The full solar energy project will be completed by 2030 to produce 1,000 MW.

According to the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, the government is looking to diversify its sources of energy, targeting renewable energy to supply one per cent of Dubai’s energy by 2020 and 5 per cent by 2030.

Private sector participation is also on the cards under the energy strategy 2030.

Saeed Al Tayer, Vice- Chairman of the SCE and managing director and CEO of Dewa, said although the private sector is prepared to invest in the solar energy projects, the first phase would be 100 per cent funded by the SCE.

"The SCE is meeting its responsibility to continue our relentless pursuit to provide clean energy solutions to efficiently meet our future requirements and develop a reduced carbon-footprint economy," he said.

Bids for the engineering consultancy service for the first 10MW solar plant are currently under evaluation while tenders for developers are expected to open in June. Al Tayer said the solar energy in Dubai’s energy portfolio will be in two forms — solar generators installed by clients on roof-tops or ground-mounted plants.

Dr Nasser Saeedi, Chief Economist at the Dubai International Financial Centre, said recently, "It is an exciting time for the clean energy sector in the region. The UAE has a renewable energy target of seven per cent by 2020."

Najeeb Zaafrani, CEO of the Supreme Council of Energy, said: "Currently in Dubai 4.5 MW of power is generated by solar energy."

Al Tayer said the project will be developed in 21 months from appointing a consultant, contracting until operation and generation.

Zaher Bitar,