April 17, 2020

Abu Dhabi Joins the Ranks for Offshore Solar

by PowerHub Editor

Renewable energy, specifically solar power, isn’t new to Abu Dhabi. Less than a year ago, the island inaugurated the world’s largest stand-alone solar power plant, Noor Abu Dhabi. With 3.2 million solar panels, this plant has a capacity of 1.17 GW and supplies power to 90,000 people. The first of its kind, Noor aims to reduce up to 1,000,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.  

Pretty impressive, eh?

Well, it isn’t just those vast sandy desserts that the city is making use of. This bustling capital of UAE is now ready to test its Arabian waters with further renewable energy investments in the form of ‘floatovoltaics’.

As a first, an 80-kilowatt pilot solar plant has been set afloat off the shore of Nurai, a small private island. It aims to contribute to the renewable energy needs of the Zaya Nurai Resort. The resort is currently powered by a 1000KW solar system with a combination of roof-top and ground panels. If successful, UAE plans to power its other 150 small islands with similar floating solar power arrays.  

A Renewable Energy Pilot Worth Setting Afloat…

There’s a lot for Abu Dhabi to gain from the success of this project. With the island recording upwards of 50 degrees on its warmest days, solar panels often suffer from technical problems. Overheating and dust collection within the cells are frequently reported issues. Hence, cool waves washing over these glistening structures may just prove to be an effective solution to this unique predicament.  

If you’ve ever lazed at one of UAE’s sandy shorelines, you’ll understand the nation’s concern to keep its picturesque beaches untouched. Experimenting with PV plants at sea relieves them of this worry. What’s more? Feras Shadid, Head of the Off-grid Division at Enerwhere – the UAE based green energy developer behind the floatovoltaic pilot – believes floating solar panels have tourist appeal. They add to an already pleasing list of attractions for visitors as they pass by these gleaming panels on their boat rides.

Pretty smart, we’d say.  

Sitting on 8% of the world’s oil reserves, UAE’s commitment to renewable energy is applaudable. With similar pilots in the pipeline, the nation aims to steadily increase it’s investment in renewable energy. To achieve this, it has budgeted a whopping $163 million for a 44% green contribution to the energy mix by 2050. 

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