NAT_161011_SOLAR PACES CONF_AD Abdulaziz Alobaidli, (2nd left), General Manager, Shams Power Company, the Chair, is seen look at the Solar System with other officials on a diplay during the opening of Solar PACES 2016 conference on Tuesday at Jumeirah Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News (story: Binsal)

Abu Dhabi: As only two minutes of the sun provide the world with one year’s energy needs of entire humanity, a day’s sun can do wonders, according to a senior official.

“Every two minutes, the energy reaching the earth from the sun is equivalent to the whole annual energy use of humanity. All the energy … the cars, lighting, and air conditioning of the world … in one year is equivalent to two minutes of the sun,” said Dr Lamya N. Fawwaz, vice-president for Institutional Advancement and Public Affairs at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST).

She was speaking at the 22nd Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems (SolarPACES) Conference, co-hosted by Masdar Institute and the UAE Ministry of Energy in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

“If we could harness just a fraction of the sun’s power, we could transform our world from one that is driven by fossil fuels and threatened by climate change to one that is fuelled entirely by clean energy ...” Fawwaz said.

There is still a huge need for further research and development of the technologies that capture, store and distribute solar and chemical energy, particularly given the unique challenges posed by this region’s climate, she said.

Ahmad Mohammad Al Kaabi, Assistant Undersecretary for Petroleum, Gas and Mineral Wealth, also welcomed the gathering.

In the keynote address, Fahad Al Hammadi, director of Climate Change at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, said the UAE’s commitment to the Paris agreement to check climate change also opens opportunity for economic diversification.

Dr Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost at Masdar Institute, told Gulf News that minimising energy consumption by people’s behavioural change and adopting energy-efficient technologies were the need of the hour to deal with the growing energy demand. Since energy storage is the key factor in deployment of renewable energy, Masdar Institute is giving priority to research and development in this sector. “If you think of developing technologies to meet the needs of today, you will be outdated soon. The technologies must be capable of meeting the demands of the future,” she explained.

Dr Nicolas Calvet, Assistant Professor, Thermal Energy Storage Research Group Leader and Chair of Masdar Institute Solar Platform, told Gulf News that Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants offer huge potential to meet the growing energy demands. CSP plants store heat derived from the sun to produce energy from turbines. It can produce energy any time [even at night]. Storing heat is cheaper than storing electricity. Abu Dhabi’s 100 megawatt Shams-1 CSP project was the first model hybridising heat and natural gas to run the plant, he said.

More than 400 delegates from academia, industry and government are attending the four-day conference that runs until October 14. The conference highlights the UAE’s role in developing the most innovative solar technologies.