While Gulf utilities continue to launch plans for major renewable energy projects, Dubai is pushing ahead with delivery, having already installed more than 500MW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity.

The commissioning of the first 200MW of the 800MW third phase of the ambitious Mohammed bin Rashid (MBR) solar park earlier this year brought the total installed capacity of the park to 473MW, equivalent to 4% of the emirate’s total installed generation capacity. With the remaining 600MW of the third phase due to come online in the next two years, Dubai is comfortably on track to meet its goal of 7 per cent clean energy by 2020.

Ambitious targets

Dubai increased its renewable energy targets in early 2015, following the award of the contract for its first solar independent power project (IPP). Prior to this, the emirate had targeted 1 per cent clean energy by 2020 and 5 per cent by 2030 – already viewed as quite an ambitious goal, with only the 13MW first phase of the MBR project having been developed.

This changed swiftly after the emirate awarded the contract for the 200MW second phase of its MBR scheme for a then-world-record tariff, 5.85 $cents a kilowatt hour ($c/kWh), to Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power. Almost immediately, Dubai increased its 2020 target to 7 per cent and its 2030 target fivefold to 25 per cent.

Fourth phase

With the 800MW third phase already well under way, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) has also awarded contracts for its first concentrated solar power (CSP) project as part of its plans to deliver renewable energy with storage capabilities. Acwa Power won the contract to develop the 700MW CSP project under the IPP model in September last year. The contract was awarded for a levelised tariff of 7.3$c/kWh, the lowest unsubsidised tariff for utility-scale CSP in the world.

The project will form the fourth phase of the MBR development and will be commissioned in stages, starting in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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By GlobalData

The plant will feature a combination of tower and parabolic trough technologies, which will collect heat and store it in molten salt to enable the supply of power during the night.

The facility will contain the world’s tallest CSP tower, which is planned to be 260 metres. Dubai had set a target of developing 1GW of CSP solar by 2030, although this may be increased following the size of the contract awarded for the first CSP scheme.

The procurement process has already started for the next phase of the GCC’s largest solar development. Dewa received bids from consultants in August for the fifth phase, which is planned to be a 300MW PV solar plant.

Rooftop gains

While the majority of renewable energy capacity installed by 2030 will emanate from the MBR solar development, for Dubai to meet its 75 per cent clean energy goal by 2050 it is relying on the successful implementation of its ambitious Shams rooftop solar programme.

The Shams initiative encourages businesses and residences to install solar panels connected to the grid under a net-metering agreement. Users then receive a reduction on energy bills for the power that their facility produces.

Dewa first invited consumers to apply for permission to connect solar panels to the grid in March 2015. While most of the initial installations were made on government or quasi-government buildings, an increasing number of private companies have installed rooftop systems on industrial and commercial premises. In September, Dewa revealed that solar installations under the Shams initiative had reached 50MW, with 1,145 buildings connected to the grid.

Solar success

One of the completed projects under the Shams initiative is the 315kW rooftop system at ABB’s office and storage premises in Barsha, one of the largest privately owned solar rooftop installations in the Middle East.

“The panels can provide up to 80 per cent of power for our facilities during working hours, and can feed surplus electricity back to the grid in off-peak periods such as weekends,” an ABB spokesman told MEED on a recent site visit. “So it reduces our carbon footprint and saves us money.”

The largest scheme under construction is being developed for state-owned DP World. In 2016, the port operator appointed the local Phanes Energy to install 30MW of solar capacity, one of the largest rooftop solar schemes in the world.

Finding funding

With Dewa having built up grid capacity to connect 2,600MW of extra generation capacity without needing additional investment, securing financing for projects will be the key challenge for businesses and residential consumers seeking to produce their own solar electricity.

Dewa has brought Etihad Energy Services Company (Etihad Esco) on board to assist with the implementation of the Shams programme, with a remit to source funding for various rooftop and smaller solar projects.

Ethihad Esco was established in 2013 by Dewa to play the lead role in improving efficiency of the emirate’s buildings. The group aims to provide assistance with financing options for rooftop solar projects and also provide a route for investors to join projects for government buildings.

Several private developers are also offering opportunities for consumers and businesses to lease solar equipment with no required upfront investment.

Green fund

A key driver of Dubai’s clean energy goals moving forward will be the Green Fund, which was launched in November 2015 to accelerate funding for green projects and programmes. The fund aims to facilitate the investment of AED100bn ($27bn) by 2030. After a slow start, the fund announced in September that it had raised AED2.4bn in the last year to support direct investment in environmentally focused companies, while offering loans to businesses in the green sector at reduced rates.

This article is sourced from Power Technology sister publication www.meed.com, a leading source of high-value business intelligence and economic analysis about the Middle East and North Africa. To access more MEED content register for the 30-day Free Guest User Programme. https://www.meed.com/registration/