Is UAE Leading the Way for Concentrated Solar Power in GCC?

By Sania Aziz Rahman
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, May 9 2019 (IPS)

In April 2019, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
published a
report
on a “roadmap to 2050” in terms of renewable
energy.

The report highlighted the possibility that by 2050, about 86
percent of the world’s power demands could be met by renewable
power. It also highlighted that 50 percent of global electricity
production could be provided via renewable energy sources.

What could this mean for the six countries of the Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Bahrain, Oman, Qatar,
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

First of all, there seems to be a massive shift in the
region’s policies towards economics, and subsequently,
technology. The UAE for one has initiated the Vision 2021
programme, which includes sustainability as one of the country’s
major goals – and seems to be taking it quite seriously.

The country has set a target of achieving 30 percent of its
energy needs from renewable energy by 2030. That might not be as
ambitious as Denmark – a country that has slightly lesser GDP
than the UAE, but has still set a goal to achieve 50 percent of its
energy from wind power.

Still, the UAE is leading in the region, especially when it
comes to concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. The UAE was,
until recently, the only country to have that technology in the
GCC.

CSP refers to a type of solar technology that uses giant mirrors
to direct sunlight on to a receiver, which converts it into heat.
There are several types of such mirrors, they can parabolic troughs
or rounded dishes, or power towers.

Concentrated solar power can be a lot more effective than solar
photovoltaic (PV) technology. This is because PV uses solar panels
that
can only work when there is sunlight, meaning electricity can only
be generated as long as sunlight falls on the panels.

CSP on the other hand, stores the sunlight as heat, which can be
used at a later time, and even when there is no sunlight. In
effect, CSP works like any other thermal power plant.

The only difference is that the heating material for all other
thermal power plants is fossil fuels like oil and natural gas. In
nuclear power plants, the heating agent is usually uranium.

Susan Kraemer, news editor for SOLARPaces.org, an international
network for CSP research, told IPS that, “(CSP) has a built-in
advantage over PV, which is that as a thermal power source, it can
store its solar energy cost effectively in large tanks of molten
salts and therefor is a form of solar able to deliver its solar
energy round the clock, not just while the sun shines.”

A solar farm made up of PV panels would have to add a battery,
to provide dispatchable energy like CSP.” The batteries, Kraemer
said, have a limited cycle life, and would have to be changed
regularly, whereas CSP as thermal storage can be recycled
indefinitely.

However, CSP does come with one disadvantage. It is more
expensive than PV technology.

“The added complexity makes CSP more expensive to build than
PV. However, some value in combining the two, to get both
advantages: CSP is cheapest night time solar and PV for cheapest
daytime solar.”

The UAE was the first from the GCC countries to get CSP
technology, and is currently the only country in the GCC to have
actual electricity generation through this. The UAE has had CSP
since 2013 – with an installed capacity of 100 MW and electricity
generation of 261 GWh.

The UAE seems to be pioneering the development of CSP within the
GCC countries, with
one of biggest investments
being the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al
Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. It boasts to be the world’s largest
single site solar park – and aims to achieve 1000 MW capacity by
2020 and 5000 MW by 2030.

The owner of this park is Dubai Electricity and Water Authority
(DEWA). It will, DEWA claims, have both PV and CSP technology,
along with a research centre, and a solar powered water
desalination plant.

It is difficult to gauge exactly how many homes this can power
because solar megawatts depend on the amount of sunlight it
receives, and the angle at which the receiver is set.

However, some statistics can help. For example, Masdar states that its 10
MW and 1MW solar power plant and rooftop panels can power 500 homes
for a year. How does this compare to other countries in the
world?

Worldwide, there are only 19 countries to have installed
capacity for concentrated solar power. Below is a comparison of the
countries.

Saudi Arabia only recently acquired this technology in 2018 –
although it has not produced any power. Its installed capacity
stands at 50 MW.

Meanwhile, the other GCC countries are either in process of
developing CSP or considering CSP options. Kuwait
completed
its first CSP power plant in May 2018, while Oman

will have
its first CSP run electricity grid by 2023.

The post
Is UAE Leading the Way for Concentrated Solar Power in GCC?

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
.

Excerpt:

Sania Aziz Rahman is a data journalist doing a
fellowship with Climate Tracker

The post
Is UAE Leading the Way for Concentrated Solar Power in GCC?

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Is UAE Leading the Way for Concentrated Solar Power in GCC?