Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) | Floating photovoltaic systems: new drive to enhance Dubai's leading position in adopting prominent, emerging sustainable solutions

14 September 2019

Floating photovoltaic systems: new drive to enhance Dubai's leading position in adopting prominent, emerging sustainable solutions

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer. MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority

The floating photovoltaic systems sector is witnessing rapid growth in the solar power market. These systems are one of the most prominent and emerging technology sustainable solutions that convert photovoltaic solar systems floating on water, into power.

A significant increase in the installation of floating solar systems is expected over the next two decades due to their advantages as compared to ground stations. These include reduced evaporation of water, as the solar panels cover the surface of the water. Operating expenses are also reduced as the solar panels need minimal cleaning, as they get washed by the moving water. Also, there is less need for site preparation and construction work, as compared to solar plants on land. The shade from the solar panels also reduces algae growth, improving water quality. Finally, the water continuously reduces the temperature of the solar panels, thus enhancing their efficiency.

In light of these advantages, Dubai seeks to establish floating solar power plants on the Arabian Gulf, becoming a pioneer in developing modern techniques to enhance the energy sector in support of sustainable development, and providing alternative solutions to conventional energy, in Dubai’s quest to become the city with the world's lowest carbon footprint city by 2050.

To achieve the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for economic, social, and environmental development, various government agencies are cooperating on these international standards. DEWA and Dubai Municipality are studying the installation of a photovoltaic solar panel system on the deep-water drainage lakes. Dubai Municipality has achieved 50% so far, of this project.

DEWA has issued a request for proposal (RFP) for appointing consultants to study, develop, and construct floating solar photovoltaic plants in the Arabian Gulf. The consultancy services include a feasibility study, the technical requirements, an environmental impact assessment report, a study of the marine requirements, and other necessary studies on setting up electrical transmissions, safety plans, and seawater feasibility studies that include tidal and system specifications and performance.

We recently visited the People's Republic of China to take a closer look at the world's largest floating solar power stations and become aware of the latest developments in this field. We also visited Singapore, where the world’s largest floating solar panel farm is located, and exchanged best experiences with experts on global practices in renewable and clean energy and sustainability. This comes as part of our strategy to launch innovative initiatives and solutions in line with our vision to provide a sustainable world for generations to come. It also highlights our commitment to adopting the latest technology solutions and systems to achieve sustainable development.

We have high hopes that these floating solar power plants and DEWA’s other programmes and green initiatives, will contribute to achieving the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, to provide 75% of Dubai's total power output from clean energy by 2050, to reach a capacity of 42,000 megawatts by 2050. This includes the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar energy project in the world, based on the Independent Power Project model. Our combined sustainable projects will position Dubai as a leading example in energy efficiency for the region and the world.

DEWA is also organising the 21st Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) and the 4th Dubai Solar Show under the umbrella of Green Week. These events will be held from 21-23 October 2019. The two events are perfect for organisations working in floating photovoltaic systems and water, energy, technology and environment sectors to promote their products, services and innovative technologies. They will also be able to meet decision-makers, investors, buyers and interested parties from around the world to make deals, build partnerships, review the latest technologies, learn about current and future projects and market needs, and explore opportunities to take part in solar-energy projects and programmes in the region. We are hopeful that both of these events will be just as successful as last year. The 20th WETEX and the 3rd Dubai Solar Show in October 2018 had great participation from exhibitors, visitors, participants, and government organisations. The two exhibitions covered 78,413 square metres, attracted 2,100 exhibitors from 53 countries, and over 35,000 visitors from all over the world.