20,000 UAE homes pow­ered by so­lar en­ergy in 2015

The Pak Banker - - 6BUSINESS -

Some 20,000 homes in the UAE were pow­ered last year with en­ergy from the sun. That means 216,483 megawatts hour of so­lar power, all com­ing from Shams 1, the first con­cen­trated so­lar power (CSP) plant not just in the UAE, but in Middle East and North Africa, which this March cel­e­brates its third an­niver­sary.

"You should feel proud you are work­ing for one of the most strate­gic de­vel­op­ments in the coun­try," said Ab­du­laziz Al Obaidli, gen­eral man­ager of Shams 1, while ad­dress­ing the plant's em­ploy­ees dur­ing a spe­cial cer­e­mony on Wed­nes­day.

"If you re­mem­ber, the Pres­i­dent, His High­ness Shaikh Khal­ifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, came here in per­son three years ago to in­au­gu­rate the plant. He hasn't done this for any other plant, so this is how im­por­tant Shams 1 is," he added.

Spread over 2.5 square kilo­me­tres in the desert of Mad­i­nat Zayed, Abu Dhabi emi­rate's Western Re­gion, Shams 1 is a sight to be­hold - five mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of sand was re­moved here to ac­com­mo­date 258,048 par­a­bolic mir­rors that fol­low the daily jour­ney of the sun, from east to west, cap­tur­ing its light, which hits on oil tubes, caus­ing them to heat up to 393 de­grees Cel­sius.

This heat is used to cre­ate steam from boil­ing wa­ter, a steam pow­er­ful enough to turn a tur­bine that gen­er­ates elec­tric­ity. All the so­lar power en­ergy is send to the na­tional grid, mix­ing with the other sources of en­ergy. In five years from now, the UAE plans to have 24 per cent of its na­tional grid en­ergy from so­lar power and other clean sources. One of the first and the largest CSP power plants in the world, Shams 1 is help­ing dis­perse of about 175,000 tonnes of car­bon diox­ide per year, which is equiv­a­lent to plant­ing 1.5 mil­lion trees or re­mov­ing 15,000 cars from Abu Dhabi's roads. "When we opened the plant three years ago, the plan was to have two more plants like this one, but the price of Pho­to­voltaic (PV) so­lar pan­els got far more com­pet­i­tive, and the UAE is now mov­ing to the PV tech­nol­ogy," ex­plained Al Obaidli. Al­though the UAE seems ideal for so­lar power, so­lar plants do not come with­out chal­lenges, as proven by Shams 1. The big­gest one of them all is dust.

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