How Abu Dhabi's luxury Zaya Nurai Island is championing sustainability with floating solar panels

The floating microgrid is thought to be the first of its kind in the region

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Abu Dhabi’s Zaya Nurai Island has launched a floating solar grid to produce power for the resort.

With limited land and rooftop space, the resort has built a near-shore, open-sea photovoltaics (PV) structure to convert light into energy, thought to be the region’s first.

The 80kW grid, developed by Dubai-based company Enerwhere, was towed into place in the Arabian Gulf earlier this week.

The panels will act as a pilot for similar projects in the region and, if successful, could pave the way for floating renewable energy solutions for Dubai’s man-made islands and resorts like the Maldives, Enerwhere says.

“Dealing with waves and corrosion offshore is obviously a lot more challenging technically than installing solar panels on a roof or flat piece of desert,” the company’s chief executive officer Stefan Muckstein said. “But for a resort island like Nurai this is still far better than taking up valuable beach real estate which tourists are willing to pay much more for.”

The resort says that if the trial is successful, the panels have the capability to produce up to 35 per cent of the island’s energy needs.

Just 12 minutes off shore from Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, Zaya Nurai Island is a luxury private resort, with a beach, pools, bars and restaurants, and a number of sea view villas.