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Solar energy set to power GCC green recovery, decarbonization strategy

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A green recovery is far more than an ambition or even an opportunity. It is an absolute imperative for a sustainable social and economic future in the post-pandemic world. That is the most significant takeaway from Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2021.

Government, business, and civil society leaders across the globe are trying to anticipate significant social, geopolitical, economic, and environmental shifts that will result from the global pandemic and there are many differing opinions.

Leaders across the GCC are clearly in sync on this and used the ADSW platform to reconfirm decarbonization pledges. The latest figures from the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) are that by 2030, based on the current national commitments and project plans, the region is on track to save the equivalent of 354 million barrels of oil through the deployment of renewables. That represents a 23 % reduction in oil consumption that would come with it the creation of more than 220,000 jobs. It would also reduce the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by 22 % while cutting water withdrawal in the power sector by 17 %.

Only this year Dubai will see the completion of the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The 950MW fourth phase, led by DEWA in partnership with several private sector entities including ACWA Power and NEXTracker, is reported to be the largest solar investment project in the world totaling greater than Dhs15.88bn or $4.3bn. The DEWA plant will also have the largest energy storage capacity in the world of 15 hours, provide clean energy for 320,000 residences and deliver 1.6 million tons of carbon emissions reduction annually.

There are three primary reasons that solar is dominating GCC investment in renewable energy.

First is tremendous increases in efficiency and energy production through the integration of AI and advanced technology. Innovation in AI networked tracking systems and software enables solar panels to literally follow the sun. This technology, TrueCapture, uses machine learning to track the path of the sun to maximize efficient energy capture, storage, and transmission.

In an industry where solar tracker technology had not significantly changed in 30 years, these innovations have helped new solar plants achieve up to 99 % efficiency ratings, with AI accounting for an increase in efficiency of up to 6 %.

That increase in efficiency has directly correlated to a dramatic decrease in the cost of energy production, the second reason for the massive movement to solar. In just the past 5 years, innovation in technology, plant design and storage has driven the cost of solar from $0.05 to $0.0135 per kilowatt hour. That is nearly a 75 % reduction in energy production costs and a fraction the cost of fossil power production.

The increase in efficiency coupled with cost reduction to generate solar power leads us to the third reason solar is the dominant renewable energy source across the GCC. That is the availability and cost of capital to fund these mega solar parks. Given the attractiveness of the new solar model, there are far more options available for both public and private funding of solar projects. NEXTracker has also created a significant manufacturing content in the region and is using that capacity to serve both projects in UAE and for export, creating sustainable jobs and economic value.

Elaborated by IICUAE, to see full article, click below.

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