Record-breaking solar project cements UAE as “leading player” in renewables

By Lucy Ingham

Despite being traditionally associated with oil, the UAE has cemented itself as a leader in the renewables industry thanks to an in-development solar project that when constructed will be the largest of its kind in the world.

The 2GW solar project, set to be constructed in Al-Dhafra, Abu Dhabi, will be the biggest single-site solar project in the world when it is constructed.

Currently taking proposals from international renewable energy developers for is construction, the project follows the 1.17GW Sweihan photovoltaic (PV) solar project in Abu Dhabi, which currently holds the record for the largest solar project in the world.

UAE cements role as key solar player

The projects, one of a host of solar schemes in the UAE, are designed to bring the country closer to its goal of almost 50% renewable energy generation by 2050 – prompting experts to characterise it as having arrived on the international renewables scene.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is now a leading player in the development of large-scale renewable energy schemes. It is also making remarkable progress on its ambitious path towards 44% of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2050,” said Andrew Roscoe, editor at GlobalData’s MEED, a sister site of Verdict.

“The 2GW project provides a clear indication of the emirate’s strategy for producing energy. The peak power produced from the emirate’s large photovoltaic plants will enable increased flexibility in the grid, with 5.6GW of baseload capacity due to come online in the next few years from the Barakah nuclear project currently being developed.”

In particular, the projects, say Roscoe, show that the UAE is no longer embracing solar as merely a way to appear to be investing in renewables, but as part of a serious, long-term plan.

“Increased grid flexibility will complement Abu Dhabi’s move to decouple power and water,” he said.

“The latest project shows that solar schemes are no longer simply vanity projects for the Gulf’s oil-rich countries. They form a key part of long-term energy goals.”

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