By TBY | UAE | Jul 07, 2015
Despite Dubai’s economic successes and the reinvigoration of its economy over the past couple of years, one of the central challenges that the government has identified is energy sustainability. In […]
Despite Dubai’s economic successes and the reinvigoration of its economy over the past couple of years, one of the central challenges that the government has identified is energy sustainability. In 2012, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative, which emphasizes diversification away from a dependence on fossil fuels and gearing its energy mix toward renewable resources. As laid out in the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy, the goal is to generate at least 15% of total power capacity by 2030 via solar energy, indicating a so-called “solar revolution“ in the Emirate. With this in mind, numerous solar power projects and initiatives have been announced to accomplish this goal.
In March 2014, HH Sheikh Mohammed launched the Smart Dubai initiative, aimed at transforming Dubai into the smartest city in the world over the next three years. Government entities, such as the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA), followed suit, announcing its first smart initiative called Shams Dubai. The Shams Dubai initiative encourages tenants and building owners to install photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity and connect them to DEWA’s energy grid. The system will be using a net metering scheme, meaning that in case a tenant or user produces more energy than they consume, the excess energy will be injected into the DEWA distribution network. This surplus energy will be credited and used to offset the future consumption of electricity. The incentive is therefore savings bills as customers will be purchasing less to meet their needs. As one of the first instances of implementation of Shams Dubai, Dubai Airports announced that it has partnered with DEWA to build a 100-panel solar array at Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC). By tapping the sun’s energy, the 100-panel solar array aims to limit the power used by DWC’s employee gate facility. The array, which is located on the roof of the building, has a capacity of 30kW and generates about 48.8MWh of electricity per year, equal to about two-thirds of the power used by the building.
DEWA also recently announced, in January 2015, that the planned 100MW solar power park would be doubling its capacity. The new 200MW plant, valued at $330 million, is expected to begin supplying electricity from April 2017 and be the biggest such facility in the Middle East and North Africa. To put this in perspective, Dubai’s current largest solar plant is a 13 MW facility built in 2014.
The new plant will be built and operated by ACWA Power, a Saudi Arabian power and water company. ACWA will finance and build the plant, receiving a fixed tariff for the electricity produced over a period of 25 years. The company’s initial offer was $5.98 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the 100 MW plant. However, due to the scaled back tariff for the 200 MW plant of $5.84 per kWh, the Dubai authorities decided on the latter. At this rate, ACWA will sell electricity to DEWA at what will be the lowest price by far for solar power globally. Looking forward, Dubai plans to build 1,000 MW of solar capacity by 2030.
Through these investments and smart initiatives, Dubai is aiming to address one of the most challenging obstacles on its path to continued development; energy sustainability. By investing in renewable resource generation like the 200 MW solar park, or developing smart initiatives like Shams Dubai, the city is taking concrete steps to diversify its production. Through this diversification, Dubai will safeguard economic progress and ensure sustainable growth going forward.