Solar power, facing gains of life’s sunny side - GulfToday

Solar power, facing gains of life’s sunny side

Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park

The UAE government has taken important steps in achieving sustainability in renewable energy.

Solar is a renewable energy source that can help steer the world away from fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases. But it also could benefit the environment and economy in ways not that well known. Researchers are growing silflower at nine solar installations in the Minneapolis area, testing its potential as an oilseed crop. The deep-rooted perennial also offers forage for livestock and desperately needed habitat for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Nowadays confined largely to roadsides and ditches, the long-stemmed cousin of the sunflower may be poised for a comeback, thanks to solar energy.

The Biden administration recently released a report showing the United States can get 40% of its electricity from solar energy by 2035, a significant jump.

Solar power can help decarbonise the US power grid and help achieve a Biden administration goal of net zero emissions in the electricity sector by 2035.

The US Department of Energy is funding a quest for best uses of lands around solar farms. Depending on how quickly the nation switches to renewable electricity, up to 10 million acres (4 million hectares) could be needed for solar by 2050.

In Longmont, Colorado, Jack’s Solar Farm offers another example of solar meeting agriculture. Instead of wheat and hay as before, the farm’s 24 acres (about 10 hectares) host 3,276 panels, generating enough power for about 300 homes. Beneath them grow tomatoes, squash, kale and green beans.

Singapore is betting on floating solar farms and vertical panels to increase its clean-energy supplies and cut carbon emissions, a model that could work in other densely populated cities.

As far as the UAE goes, if there is one company that has shown remarkable developments in harnessing solar power, it is Masdar, one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies based in Abu Dhabi. It has done some groundbreaking work in this field.

It has announced the outcome from its Renewable Energy Desalination Pilot Programme in Ghantoot, showing that solar energy-powered desalination is commercially viable in Abu Dhabi.

The world’s first project to produce commercial volumes of an uninterrupted water supply from a sustainable source was scheduled for launch recently in Masdar City.

The innovative pilot project will be run by a US-based water technologies company.

The carbon-free technology will create access to clean water, a fundamental necessity in building a greener future, while contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG 6) of ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Masdar has been involved in some international tieups on solar power as well. In August this year, a Masdar joint venture started construction on Indonesia’s first utility-scale floating solar power plant.

Last month, Masdar also announced that it signed a strategic agreement with the Republic of Iraq to develop five solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in the country with a combined capacity of 1 gigawatt (GW).

Masdar has signed an implementation agreement with Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity and the National Investment Commission to develop the following projects: a 450-megwatt (MW) plant in the Dhi Qar Governate in southern Iraq; a 100 MW and a 250 MW plant, both located in Ramadi in central Iraq; a 100 MW plant in Mosul in the north; and a 100 MW plant in Amarah in the southeast.

The signing took place at a ceremony in Baghdad, in the presence of Mustafa Al Kadhimi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, and Suhail Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure for the UAE.

The renewable energy sector is seeing rapid growth as clean technologies prove their economic viability. Masdar has proved its pioneering status through its diverse projects portfolio and contribution to the UAE’s efforts to build a competitive, knowledge-based economy.

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