Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has inaugurated the world's largest concentrated solar park project in Dubai, as the emirate continues its push to clean energy.
The project is part of the Dh15.78 billion ($4.3 billion) fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which covers an area of 44 square kilometres and has a capacity of 950 megawatts, the Dubai Media Office said on Wednesday.
The fourth phase will provide about 320,000 houses with clean energy and reduce carbon emissions by about 1.6 million tonnes annually, it said.
The project is driven by the objectives of the UAE’s push for net zero by 2050 and is in line with the goals of the Cop28 climate conference, which is currently being held in Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed said.
“The UAE has a clear vision to transform itself into one of the world's most sustainable nations. Our journey towards sustainability is comprehensive, encompassing advanced clean energy projects across diverse renewable sources, and innovative solutions integrated into various spheres of the economy and society," he said.
The fourth phase features the world's tallest solar tower at over 263 metres and the largest thermal energy storage capacity of 5,907 megawatt hours.
It uses three hybrid technologies: 600MW from a parabolic basin complex, 100MW from the tower and 250MW from photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.
"We continue to expand our sustainable energy mix and embrace renewable and alternative energies, shaping not only our nation’s future but also contributing significantly to the global effort to combat climate change," Sheikh Mohammed said.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is one element of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net-Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050, aiming to provide 100 per cent of energy production from clean sources by the middle of the century.
The solar park, which is being spearheaded by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, will have a total capacity of 5,000MW and will cut 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually when it is fully completed in 2030.
In August, Dewa selected Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company Masdar to build and manage the 1,800MW sixth phase of the solar park.
Solar parks hold immense potential: the installed power capacity of solar PVs is projected to surpass that of coal by 2027, becoming the largest in the world, according to the International Energy Agency.
Cumulative solar PV capacity is expected to triple, growing by nearly 1,500 gigawatts over that period and exceeding natural gas by 2026, the Paris-based agency said.
Despite current higher investment costs due to elevated commodity prices, utility-scale solar PV is the least costly option for new electricity generation in a significant majority of countries worldwide, the IEA said.
So far, 717MW have been commissioned from the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park's fourth phase, which also includes the installation of more than 790,000 PV solar panels. The project integrates 70,000 mirrors (or heliostats) that track the sun’s movement.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park project brings both photovoltaic and thermal technologies together, allowing the storage of electricity, Ajay Mathur, director general of the International Solar Alliance, told The National.
Solar thermal systems collect and concentrate sunlight to produce the high temperature heat needed to generate electricity.
“The financial structuring of the project has been done in a way that you're now looking at firm electricity being provided through renewables round the clock in a manner that … could be cost competitive,” Mr Mathur said.
Sheikh Mohammed's efforts have contributed to making Dubai a global hub for the green economy and a "global role model in the sustainable transition to clean energy", said Saeed Al Tayer, managing director and chief executive of Dewa.
"This has been achieved through pioneering strategies and projects driven by advanced research and development, Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, digital transformation and the latest renewable and clean energy technologies," he said.
Noor Energy 1, a consortium led by Dewa and Saudi Arabi’s Acwa Power, was established as the project company to design, build and operate the fourth phase of the solar park. Dewa holds a 51 per cent stake in the company and Acwa Power holds 25 per cent, while the remaining 24 per cent is owned by the Chinese Silk Road Fund.