UN chief António Guterres tours Abu Dhabi's huge solar plant by helicopter

Noor Abu Dhabi is one of the world's largest projects of its kind

The UN secretary general flies over the Noor solar plant in Sweihan, between Abu Dhabi city and Al Ain. Wam
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United Nations Secretary General António Guterres took a helicopter tour over the 3.2 million solar panels that form one of the world’s largest solar projects.

Mr Guterres flew over Noor Abu Dhabi as the solar plant commenced commercial operation for the first time.

With a production capacity of nearly 1,177 MW, Noor Abu Dhabi is set to reduce the UAE capital’s carbon dioxide emissions by 1 million metric tons per year, the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars off the roads.

The Dh3.2 billion solar plant - located in Sweihan, between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain - is a key component of the UAE’s Energy Strategy 2050. The plan aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix to 50 per cent by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70 per cent, state news agency Wam reported.

At present, the UAE generates about 98 per cent of its electricity through gas-powered plants, though that will come down significantly when the Barakah nuclear power plant comes online in 2020, and as more solar sites open.

"Sometimes it's as much opportunity as necessity that is the mother of invention," said Mr Guterres.

"Here in the United Arab Emirates, it is eye-opening to see renewables on the rise. Scaling up renewables in all countries is not just an urgent need for tackling global warming – it makes economic sense.

"It’s a huge opportunity to create new and better jobs, and to improve people’s health by cutting pollution.

To do that, we need to get much more climate finance flowing and the Climate Action Summit will be an opportunity to do exactly that."

Mr Guterres and more than 1,000 political leaders, heads of state, high level dignitaries and climate action advocates gathered for a second day on Monday to discuss climate change and renewable energy at the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting.

The event will serve to craft the agenda for the United Nations Climate Action Summit taking place later this year.