Solar energy use looking up in United Arab Emirates

The solar energy use in the UAE presently stands at 1 per cent. However, the country is targeting this figure to rise to 5 per cent by 2030, with the emirate of Abu Dhabi alone aiming for 7 per cent by 2020,” according to statistics reeled out by the chairman the Emirates Solar Industry Association (Esia), Vahid Fotuhi.

“It looks likely that we shall attain that level in this period of time,” he added. Esia is a non-governmental organisation that promotes use of solar energy in the region.

Vahid attributed his optimism to “increased attention to solar power use” and the removal of barriers such as the economic cost and “gas shortages in some Mena (Middle East and North Africa) countries that turn to importing expensive LNG or oil-based fuels for power generation.”

“There is no doubt that the Mena region has abundant solar resources, but this field has not been active for commercial and technical reasons which are now fast fading away,” Vahid told The Gulf Today on March 14.

He was on Esia’s stand in the Water, Energy, and Environment Exhibition (Wetex), which closes on March 15 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“We are conducting awareness events educating the public about opportunities and challenges of this drive. We also support policy makers to put in place regulations needed to promote solar use,” he said of the two-year-old body.

The region is fast adopting multiple sources of energy, including solar power. This year, Abu Dhabi is expected to open a 100 MW Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant called Shams 1 “to be followed by Shams 2 and Shams 3,” according to the authorities from the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) which is a renewable energy company that develops sustainable low-carbon energy projects.

At the neighbouring Emirate of Dubai, construction has begun of the Dhs12bn Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar power park of 1,000MW solar power, incorporating both concentrated solar power and photovoltaic.

This first phase of 10 MW, which is expected to be completed in 2013, will be fully funded and implemented by Dubai’s Supreme Council of Energy (SCE). It will be managed and operated by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), the state-owned sole power supplier. “Currently in Dubai, 4.5 MW of power is generated by solar energy,” according to the CEO of SCE, Najeeb Zaafrani.