The UAE, a major oil-producing country, is spearheading a number of renewable energy projects in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Masdar, the Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company, has inaugurated the Shaikh Zayed Solar Power Plant, a utility-scale, 15-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) facility in Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania.
The largest solar PV plant in Africa, the Dh117.5 million ($31.99 million) facility accounts for 10 per cent of Mauritania’s energy capacity and will displace approximately 21,225 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Since its inception, Masdar has been heavily involved in moving Abu Dhabi towards a low-carbon economy. With more than $5 billion (Dh18.3 billion) worth of renewable-energy projects underway across the globe, the company is regarded as a leader in the energy-efficiency field.
Shaikh Saeed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Ruler’s Representative, reaffirmed the UAE’s long-standing support for economic and social growth projects in developing countries.
“This inauguration underscores the important role renewable energy can play to drive comprehensive sustainable development in Africa,” Shaikh Saeed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in a statement.
“This solar power plant is a testament to our strong bilateral relationship with Mauritania and our commitment to helping create a more sustainable future.”
Mauritania’s electricity grid, which is powered mostly by expensive diesel generators, currently has an installed capacity of only 144 megawatts, resulting in severe energy shortages. The plant, which consists of 29,826 micromorph thin-film panels, was built using sustainable construction practices.
“Energy access is a pathway to economic and social opportunity,” said Mauritania President Mohammad Ould Abdul Aziz during the inauguration of the plant.
“This is a testament to the UAE leadership’s vision of ensuring sustainable development — economically, socially and environmentally.”
Adoption of renewable energy is part of the UAE’s commitment to the developing world. With the price of renewable energy technologies falling, solar and wind power are becoming economically viable solutions to improving energy security and access.
The development comes a month after Masdar commissioned a 100 MW solar power plant — Shams 1 — in Abu Dhabi. Shams 1, the largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in operation in the world, reduces the UAE’s carbon emissions, displacing approximately 175,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, an equivalent of planting 1.5 million trees, or taking 15,000 cars off the road.
Suhail Al Mazroui, UAE Minister of Energy, on Tuesday told a conference in Dubai, “In order to protect our fossil fuel resources, we need to ensure that we are as efficient as possible in what we consume. We have seen important steps in this direction, especially here in Dubai with its target of 30 per cent demand reduction by 2030.”
Masdar, which has a 20 per cent stake in London Array — an offshore wind farm under construction in the outer Thames Estuary — has invested significant resources in the mega project.
With 1,000 megawatt (MW) capacity, it is expected to become the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
Additionally, the company has partnered in the development of a 100MW solar power plant in Spain. Torresol Energy, a 40:60 partnership between Masdar and Spanish engineering company Sener, will built two 50 megawatt solar parks at the plant.
Domestically generated renewable energy is clean, sustainable and helps developing nations insulate themselves from volatile fuel prices.
“For more than 40 years, the UAE has remained steadfast in its commitment to helping developing countries achieve their economic potential,” Dr Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, said.
“Today, as the UAE and Masdar help countries realise their ambitions of developing critical energy infrastructure, we are finding important new ways to assist the global community in achieving sustainable development.
These are taking place at the backdrop of the Dubai Government’s directives to develop the Green Economy — something that will help investment in green energy products and services.
“These are definitely going to help private companies like us to invest and develop local capabilities in renewable energy products,” Prabbish Thomas, Chairman of PTL Solar, told Gulf News, whose company assembles solar panels locally. “These projects could boost local expertise and reduce imports of solar products.”
Another UAE-based renewable energy company, Mulk Enpar, is commissioning a major solar power plant in India.
“We are also going to sign for another 200 MW solar power plant in India,” Shaji Ul Mulk, Chairman of Mulk Holdings — parent company of Mulk Enpar, told Gulf News.