Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s first floating solar power plant will begin energy production this week in Abu Dhabi.
Located off Nurai Island, which is a 15 minute boat ride from the UAE capital, the floating solar panels will provide an additional 80 kilowatts of solar power energy to the nearby Zaya Nurai resort, where there are already 1,000 kilowatts of rooftop and ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems.
The project aims to pave the way for floating renewable energy solutions in the emirates.
UAE-based sustainable energy company, Enerwhere is behind the project.
Feras Shadid, Head of the Off-grid Division at Enerwhere said, “We wanted to build solar systems on the island without jeopardising the beach space that many tourists enjoy. Our solution was utilising the sea, which we have in abundance. Floating solar plants are complex as there are many integral factors such as the dimensions of the structure and the availability of a connection point. The project is expected to be commissioned on Monday or during the coming few days.
“Abu Dhabi has around 150 islands that could benefit from floating renewable energy solutions,” Shadid added. “We need to cater to the needs of those islands. Our next target as well is the World Islands in Dubai. These places primarily use diesel and we hope that through the success of our project in Nurai Island, we can promote more sustainable options for those islands. Considering that we are a UAE-based company, we do ensure that our projects begin locally, however we do have aspirations to take this project to the Maldives and Seychelles as well.”
Advantages of a floating solar power plant
Shadid said there are many advantages to floating solar panels.
“Firstly, the precious land space of small islands would not be sacrificed by this project and would not affect the experience of the guests. Secondly, the waves – which are around 1.5 and 2.5 meters at Nurai Island – can offer a cooling effect on the panels which helps them generate more energy and raises their efficiency. Thirdly, there is less concern with dust and soiling issues when dealing with a floating solar power plant.” The company uses an IP68 photovoltaic panel junction box for this project which ensures that the panels are completely protected from dust and long term immersion at sea.
Shadid welcomes the visitors of Nurai Island to witness the floating power plant firsthand. “The boat trips from Nurai Island often pass by the solar panels and it’s a beautiful experience for guests to learn and witness a close up of this project.”