The solar-powered abra being deployed at Al Mamzar follows several trial runs to verify stability and balance of the hull. Image Credit: Courtesy: RTA

Dubai: Commuters can now enjoy a ride on a solar-powered abra that is operating in the waters of Mamzar Lagoon, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Monday.

RTA began the operation recently after a month-long successful trial of the sustainable technology.

Operation of solar-powered abras is considered a first in the Middle East and the move is part of Dubai Government’s initiative of a Green Economy for a Sustainable Environment.

“This abra is the first public marine transit mode powered by solar energy in the Middle East. The project has seen conversion of an abra powered by electricity into an abra powered by solar energy by fitting the roof of the abra with solar panels along with other operational accessories,” said Abdullah Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

Al Ali said that a specialist firm was hired to conduct the trials that included the balance test, the charging and speed trials.

“The one-month trial run of the abra at Al Jaddaf proved that the solar power system would have no negative impact on the stability and balance of the hull of the abra and, accordingly, there would be no need for tinkering with the design or specifications of the existing abra or even building new ones,” he added.

The system requires about six daytime hours to recharge the battery in full.

“According to the test results the solar system can fully charge the battery every day, and store enough energy to power the abra for a five -our ride at the normal operating speed of 3-4 knots. After a five-hour ride the system will still have a 25 per cent battery life,” he said.

He added that the launch of the solar-powered abra is part of RTA’s steps towards fully adopting the Green Economy concept and using clean energy in various public transit means.

“The RTA is focused on turning these concepts into reality through creative initiatives for curbing carbon footprint, and using alternative energy in mass transit means,” he said.