News Column

UAE shines with high-tech solar power investments

June 5, 2014

By K. T. Abdurabb, Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

June 06--DUBAI -- Masdar's Shams I concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Abu Dhabi catapulted the UAE to its new ranking as third among the world's nations in both 2013 CSP technology investment and total CSP capacity.

The UAE now ranks only behind Spain and the US in total CSP generation; India and China round out the world's top five.

The rankings were recently unveiled in a report by REN21, an international multi-policy stakeholder network that promotes a rapid global transition to renewable energy.

According to REN21, the 100 megawatt CSP plant in Abu Dhabi's western region is one reason why CSP's growth in emerging markets almost tripled during 2013.

Although Spain and the US are still by far the market leaders in CSP, investment in this technology is accelerating most rapidly in regions that receive high amounts of daily sunshine-- or in industry terminology, high direct normal irradiation (DNI).

Worldwide since 2004, global CSP capacity has increased 10-fold, and last year surged 36 percent to a total of 3.4 Gigawatts of energy generated. .

"We're pleased to see how high the UAE ranks worldwide in renewable energy generation, given the country's commitment to sourcing more sources of secure and safe energy," said Yousif Al Ali, General Manager of Shams 1 Power Company.

"And the numbers bear fruit: since its launch, Shams 1 has been generating enough power to electrify 20,000 homes in the UAE and displaces175,000 tons of carbon annually."

The REN21 report demonstrates how through its investment in CSP technology, the UAE is leading the region in renewable energy investment while strengthening its position as a responsible global energy leader.

The $600 million Shams 1 concentrated solar plant, the largest renewable energy project in the Middle East, opened in March 2013 and is a partnership between Masdar, Total and Abengoa.

The 2.5 square kilometer facility uses solar thermal collectors to concentrate heat from sunlight into a central tube, where a special oil is heated to 393C.

In turn the heat from the oil generates steam that drives a turbine, which then powers a steam generator that produces electricity for Abu Dhabi's grid.

Meanwhile, the report said that the number of emerging economy nations with policies in place to support expansion of renewable energy has surged more than six-fold in just eight years, from 15 developing countries in 2005 to 95 earlier this year.

Of the 144 countries with renewable energy support policies and targets in place, 95 are developing nations.

The rise of developing world support contrasts with declining incentives and growing uncertainty in Europe and the US.

The report said the US, Brazil, Canada and Germany remained the top countries for total installed renewable power capacity, with China's new renewable power capacity surpassed new fossil fuel and nuclear capacity for the first time.

It added that renewables are achieving high levels of penetration in several countries, as wind power met 33.2 percent and 20.9 percent of electricity demand in Denmark and Spain respectively during 2013.

Denmark, for instance, banned the use of fossil fuel-fired boilers in new buildings as of 2013 and aims for renewables to provide almost 40 percent of total heat supply by 2020.

It also said that Djibouti, Scotland and a growing number of other countries aim to derive 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, indicating that this goal has already been achieved by some 20 million Germans living in the 100 percent renewable energy regions.


(c)2014 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

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Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

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