10 YFEL members launch innovative off-grid solar power project in UAE

Inspired by the call from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a group of 10 members the Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program has proposed an innovative off-grid solar power project that seeks to bring electricity to healthcare facilities in remote areas of the UAE and sub-Saharan Africa.

The project was launched at the YFEL stand on the second day of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) 2013.

In addition to the launch, a panel discussion on sustainability by Dr Ken Volk, Outreach Manager, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, addresses by top officials from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the European Commission, as well as a CEOs plenary session marked the other activities organized by the YFEL program at WFES 2013.

Nearly 30,000 delegates have convened for the WFES 2013 that opened on 15 January at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC). The event, organized under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, concludes on 17 January.

Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, addressed the gathering on “Sustainability, renewable energy and climate change” at the YFEL stand, while Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, spoke on “Climate and energy policies: Key future challenges”.

Energy industry leaders including Roy Adair, CEO, Hydro Tasmania, Australia, Bader Al Lamki Director, Clean Energy Masdar, UAE, Santiago Seage, Chairman & CEO Abengoa Solar, Spain, Tulsi R Tanti, Chairman and Managing Director, Suzlon Group, India, and Jean-Pascal Tricoire, President and CEO, Schneider Electric, France, offered their views at the plenary session titled ‘The view from Industry – CEOs of Renewable Energy Companies’.

The off-grid solar power project launched by the YFEL members aims to implement a system that would provide a continuous, reliable and sustainable supply of energy to an entire hospital. The proposal envisions three power-generating options, including a self-contained PV system, a hybrid system integrating PV with other available renewable energy, such as biomass, and wind, or a hybrid system using PV combined with a fossil-fuel engine generator.

Muna Al Amoodi, Project Leader and a Senior Environment Officer at Dubai Aluminum Company (DUBAL), said: “Through this project, team members will be able to implement the principles of advanced energy and sustainability that they have learned about and put them into practice.”

She added that team members also will learn about business challenges particularly concerning renewable-energy projects in developing countries as a result of their exposure and interaction with professionals that they consult to support the project.

Eventually, one or two hospitals will be identified for the rooftop solar project, and while the focus for this year is hospital facilities, in future, schools and households may be considered.

The off-grid solar power project will consist of two phases – phase 1 includes a feasibility study addressing technical and economic issues regarding the proposed sites and the possible system designs. The phase-2 will involve the purchase, installation, commissioning and handover of the project, as well as maintenance and operational training, performance observations and a final project presentation.

Moderating the debate titled ‘Should countries implement actions that address population issues impacting worldwide sustainability?’, Dr Ken Volk posed questions to each team after their opening comments on issues relating to energy, environment or sustainability. Teams used their debating skills and presented convincing arguments, which may or may not actually reflect their own personal beliefs.

The debate was part of the YFEL program’s initiatives that aim to encourage students to be proactive champions of energy and environmental solutions. Such activities offer an opportunity for YFEL members to practice their skills in formulating and presenting ideas clearly, thus preparing them for their roles as future energy leaders.

Part of the Masdar Institute’s Outreach program, YFEL offers young professionals and students from the UAE and abroad an opportunity to become more engaged in finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges – achieving energy efficiency and tackling climate change. It also aims to bring young professionals closer to government representatives, business leaders and other organizations active in the area of alternative energy and sustainability.