Bahrain unveils 5 MW smart solar project

According to a statement released, Petra Solar will use "smart solar" technology that it developed in the U.S. for the "Let Bahrain Shine" project, which aims to reliably generate grid-stabilized electricity and create jobs "at several skill levels". It is said to comprise the first phase of Bahrain’s national energy plan.

A spokesperson for the company additionally told pv magazine that the project will last for a period of nine months; investment is coming from BAPCO.

"In Awali, we are deploying solar power plus we are building a wireless smart grid network, which is the foundation for command and control of the smart solar systems and unique smart grid applications," stated Shihab Kuran, president and CEO of Petra Solar. The company said that in addition to ground-mounted plants, it shall install solar on rooftops, lighting poles and carports at various locations in Bahrain, including in the Awali Community and at the University of Bahrain.

Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, Minister of Energy, Chairman of The National Oil and Gas Authority added, "Following a successful implementation of this pilot project we expect that other projects will follow in the near future."

The project is a collaborative effort among the U.S. consortium, NOGA, BAPCO, The Electricity & Water Authority (EWA), academia, industry, and government.

In February, Petra Solar’s Hisham Othman released a list of the top ten ways in which a grid can be prepared for solar interconnection. They are:

  • Economical – Such factors as fuel cost, the availability of state incentives and insolation are all said to affect the bottom line. "Factoring in ‘externalities’ (economic costs traditionally excluded from bottom-line calculations) such as pollution and carbon emissions makes solar a clear economic winner," he writes.
  • Regulatory issues – Preparation is the key to success, goes the saying. Othman advised contacting regulators early to obtain the relevant information needed for working out the economics. "Establishing your regulatory case is critical to determining return on investment," he says.
  • Utility or consumer-owned solar – Should a utility acquire its solar assets, or encourage property owners to purchase them? Othman looks at the advantages and disadvantages.
  • Centralized or distributed solar – Again, Othman discusses the advantages and disadvantages.
  • Financing – Both power purchase agreements and lease options are available.
  • Infrastructure – Distributed solar power, he says, presents "huge opportunities".
  • Reactive power – Consider the needs and capabilities. "Reactive power requirements to ensure voltage quality… may be changed by the integration of high levels of solar. Incremental reactive power requirements can be specified to be integrated within the solar panel inverter. Alternatively, the utility can build a reactive support on the circuit to address all the needs of the local community," he explains.
  • System management – Think about how solar assets can be integrated into utility operations.
  • Community – Involving the community in smart grid plans can help resolve issues and boost interest.
  • Long-term strategy – Think about the evolution of the smart grid and how it can adapt to meet future technology and energy requirements.