Solar Innovation, Partnership and Falling Electricity Costs
By Dr. Dalya Al Muthanna, President & CEO of GE Gulf
When it comes to electricity, Dubai has drawn three dramatic lines in the sand – 7%, 25%, 75%. These numbers reflect the giant strides that Dubai has set for itself and represent the share of energy demand it will meet through renewables by 2020, 2030 and 2050.
As a long-term partner to Dubai’s sustainable growth and to the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), GE is proud to be supporting DEWA’s drive to innovation that is helping it achieve record-breaking levels of efficiency and cost reductions – key enablers of the emirate’s commitment to sustainable development.
At GE, we are providing innovative solutions and industry-leading technologies that are helping DEWA to develop the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park, where much of this renewable energy will be generated.
Already, the solar park has a capacity of 213 megawatts (MW), and by 2020 capacity will be 1,000 MW. By 2030, the total will be 5,000 megawatts. Ultimately it will become the largest single-site solar park in the world.
A big part of what makes the solar park so special, besides its size, is the dramatically lower cost of electricity it will provide to Dubai. By working with partners such as GE, DEWA is achieving cost improvements on both the development and operating levels.
Our contribution includes supplying 1,500-volt solar inverters to both Phase II and Phase III of the development, thereby supporting 1,000 MW of power capacity from the solar park – enough electricity to power 250,000 homes in Dubai.
Because our solar inverters are far more powerful than standard 1,000-volt counterparts, DEWA potentially saves up to 3% in capital expenses and up to 15% in operating expense.
Also, critical to their deployment in the extreme conditions of Dubai’s deserts, our inverters are designed to withstand the high ambient temperatures they will experience at the park.
We commend DEWA for its ambition in innovation, not only in the field of solar energy, but also in its embrace of 3D printing and drone technologies that can be valuable tools to support DEWA’s operations. To that end, DEWA is developing an R&D lab at the solar park that will study how drones and 3D printing can help optimize operations and asset efficiency, including at the solar park.
Inspired by DEWA’s disruptive vision, we also are bringing additional innovations to support DEWA’s operations.
As part of season three of GE Droneweek, we deployed thermal drones at the solar park to perform operations that demonstrate their role in better managing the solar park. Working in extreme heat, these drones act as the eyes of engineers. Faults can be discovered in hours, rather than in the weeks it would take a human to survey the site.
These are exciting times full of opportunity. At GE, we look forward to supporting Dubai and DEWA on their journey toward a future powered by clean energy.