Dubai loves to take things to the superlative, and the city isn’t toying around this time either. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) just revealed plans to build a massive solar power concentrated array that would generate a whopping 1,000 megawatts (MW) – almost twice as much as the current record holder, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex in Morocco.
Dubai, like most of the country, was built on oil money, but the city wants to claw (or buy) its way to the renewable market as well, tapping into another resource they have plenty of – the Sun. The first stage of the concentrated solar power (CSP) plant aims to produce 200 MW in April 2021, the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority said.
“This project is going to be the biggest CSP plant worldwide,” said DEWA chief Saeed al-Tayer.
Concentrated solar systems generate solar power by using mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. The solar energy then creates steam which in turn generates electricity, unlike photovoltaic solar panels which generate electricity directly. Concentrated solar arrays have a few advantages over photovoltaics, the most significant one being that energy can be stored in the form of heat, and therefore the system can also generate electricity during the night, way after the sun has gone down.
We still don’t have all the information about the design of this ambitious project, but Al Tayer said that there will be “several thousand” heliostats to reflect radiation to a tower.
Unlike their other oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi, Dubai has a dwindling reserve of crude oil so they are trying to diversify their assets as soon as possible. Dubai has been taking significant steps to green up their energy supply. The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 aims to generate 75% of energy through clean, renewable sources. The intermediate goal is to provide energy from 61 percent natural gas, 25 percent solar power, 7 percent “clean coal,” and 7 percent nuclear power by 2030.