Forget Oil, Dubai Plans Huge Solar Farm

A world leader in fossil fuels will soon be generating power from another one of its abundant natural resources—the sun. The Supreme Council of Energy (SCE) of Dubai (the second-largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates) has announced plans to develop a 1-gigawatt (GW) solar farm in the desert outside Dubai by 2030.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will roll out in phases, with the first 10-megawatt (MW) phase scheduled to be completed by 2013. The photovoltaic (PV) power plant, which is named in honor of the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, will be the first utility-scale solar energy plant of its kind in the region.

dubai

image via Wikimedia Commons

The project is part of Dubai’s Integrated Energy Strategy 2030. According to Saeed Al Tayer, vice chairman of SCE and CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the plan requires that DEWA generate 1 percent of Dubai’s energy with solar power by 2020, and 5 percent by 2030. The rest of the emirate’s energy production will come from nuclear power plants (12 percent), coal (12 percent) and natural gas.

Diversifying Dubai’s resource mix is one of the emirate’s top priorities. Other key objectives of its energy strategy include meeting the needs of both present and future generations and creating an urban infrastructure with sustainable resources. “We recognize that preserving our energy resources will be one of the greatest challenges in our drive towards sustainable development,” said bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “This, however, will not materialize unless the different facets of our society adopt energy conservation principles in their core values. The future generations will be the chief beneficiary of our achievements and the best judge of what we accomplish in this field.”

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).