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Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy targets achievable

By Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan

The government of the United Arab Emirates is taking all possible policy measures to meet the desired goals/targets of the renewable energy. Abu Dhabi also plans to generate more electricity from renewable sources like sun, solar energy. According to the many local as well as regional experts the 7 percent electricity from renewable sources by 2020 is achievable. It was announced two years ago in the World Future Energy Summit held in Abu Dhabi.

Rigorous discussions, consultations and deliberations are going on the serious topic/issue of renewable energy sources in the UAE before the upcoming World Future Energy Summit in UAE January 2011. Different integrated projects are going great in the UAE and a new solar power plant, Shams1, developed by Masdar Power currently under construction, will add another 100MW within the next year or so. Moreover, Masdar is already planning to launch another 100MW solar project in the emirate 2011.

It is estimated that to meet Abu Dhabi’s 2020 renewable energy goals, the large scale solar power plants such as Shams1 will deliver 1,000MW. The additional 500MW will be produced from the solar roof programme, which will harness the power of the sun through small-scale solar installations on the roofs of homes and businesses throughout the emirate.

To achieve this target the government departments and leading developers have already incorporated photovoltaic panels on roofs or in outdoor shading devices. It is said that a dozen such small-scale projects are connected to the main electricity grid and this trend will continue.

Solar power is just one form of clean energy. Wind, the power of ocean waves and currents can also be used to generate electricity in the UAE. While Masdar is assessing whether to build a wind farm of up to 30MW on Sir Bani Yas Island, the sun is expected to play the largest part in meeting Abu Dhabi’s clean energy needs.

Solar technologies will also feature heavily at the upcoming summit, at which many of the industry’s leaders will discuss innovations in the field. Among them is Torresol Energy, a joint venture between Masdar and the Spanish engineering firm SENER, which is building three solar plants in Spain.

Gemasolar, is expected to start operation in April. Built at a cost of €300 million (Dh1.4 billion), the plant is the first in the world to use hot molten salt to generate power. The facility heats the salt to 600°C in a central tower, then uses it to turn water into steam, which is then used to produce electricity. Advantages of the technology are that electricity can be produced after the sun has set, and can also be produced according to demand. In summer, the plant can produce electricity 24 hours a day.

It is strongly recommended that the community awareness about the benefits of clean renewable energy must be increased. There should be special regulations for the sector along with incentives. There should be clear-cut renewable energy policy, regulatory organ and investment friendly environment in the UAE to boost the ratios of renewable energy projects and sources.

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