Dubai launches $3.27bn solar energy project

Reuters, Monday 9 Jan 2012

Emirate plans sizeable solar energy park as part of strategy to reduce energy imports and carbon emissions

The emirate of Dubai on Monday unveiled plans to build a 12 billion dirham solar energy park, with potential capacity of 1,000 megawatts as part of its efforts to reduce its energy reliance.

Under Dubai's Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, it plans to reduce energy imports and climate warming carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, using its own solar power and nuclear power imported from neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi to reduce reliance on gas.

Named after Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will cover an area of 48 square km. The first solar plant of the park will have a capacity of 10 MW and is planned to commence operations by end-2013. It will cost around 120 million dirhams.

"The members of the Supreme Council of Energy are financing the project," said Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer, vice chairman of Dubai's Supreme Council of Energy, referring to the 10 MW plant.

Among the members of the Council are various government entities such as the Dubai Supply Authority and Dubai Petroleum Establishment as well as Dubai Aluminum Company (DUBAL) and Emirates National Oil Company ENOC.L.

For the financing of the rest of the project, the Supreme Council of Energy was studying several options like developing a clean energy fund. It was also going to encourage private partnership, Nejib Zaafrani, secretary general and chief executive officer of Supreme Energy Council said.

The United Arab Emirates is one of the world's largest oil exporters, producing some 2.6 million barrels a day (bpd).

But most of the UAE's production is clustered in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, with Dubai producing only around 100,000 bpd from four existing fields, according to the U.S. Energy Administration.

The country is also one of the highest per capita electricity consumers in the world, with soaring temperatures driving up air conditioning use from June-September, forcing energy-hungry Dubai - home to nearly 2 million people - to buy ever more natural gas.

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