Dubai switches on its first solar plant, with promise of more to come

Aptly built by American solar company First Solar, Dubai’s first ever solar PV plant was switched on this week amid an atmosphere of rising appetite for renewable energy in the Middle East.

The 13 MW, $35 million PV plant is the first to be built in the United Arab Emirates, and has become the largest solar power installation anywhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

"This is the first part of Dubai’s plan to develop a solar park with 1,000 MW of power by 2030," said the CEO of Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), Saeed Al Tayer.

DEWA’s next solar project is a 100 MW PV plant, in which it will hold a 51% stake and invite bids for private companies to fund the remaining 49%. This projected plant is expected to cost approximately $215 million and will be completed within three yeas, according to Al Tayer.

These plans are part of the state-owned utility’s proposal to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels – namely natural gas – while meeting Dubai’s 5% annual growth in power demand with renewable energy.

By 2030, Dubai hopes to source 5% of its power from renewable sources, 12% from coal, 12% from neighbouring nuclear reactors and 71% from natural gas.