Masdar launches UAE's first independent solar testing and R&D lab

Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology are set to launch the Masdar Solar Hub in an effort to expedite the development of solar technologies.

The new hub aims to support Abu Dhabi’s efforts to achieve its solar energy development and deployment goals through research and demonstration of solar PV, solar thermal and thermal energy storage technologies.

“Collaborations are essential for a thriving innovation ecosystem, as they facilitate dialogue between industry leaders and government, and support the development of novel, game-changing technologies,” said Masdar CEO Ahmad Belhoul.

Belhoul added that the new center would become a catalyst for solar energy development in Abu Dhabi and across the region while training personnel for Abu Dhabi’s energy sector.

Masdar Solar Hub, the first independent solar testing and research and development facility in the United Arab Emirates, will seek to build a high-performance testing infrastructure in the region, providing the foundation for new product development, co-operation with local and international companies and the creation of new solar companies in Abu Dhabi.

The hub is to provide unbiased research, development, testing, evaluation and certification of solar technologies and systems as well as consulting and information services, leading to the practical and widespread implementation of solar energy solutions across Abu Dhabi.

“The Masdar Solar Hub will enable researchers to engage in significant development and testing to create efficient solar technologies that can operate at maximum capacity in the region’s unfavorable climactic conditions,” said Masdar Institute President Fred Moavenzadeh.

The new testing and R&D lab is in line with the UAE National Innovation Strategy and reinforces Masdar Institute’s capacity to advance research in support of Abu Dhabi’s mandate to provide 7% of its power generation capacity with renewable energy technologies by 2020, Moavenzadeh added.

Despite the region’s sunny climate, Masdar Institute’s Research Centre for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment has shown from satellite data alone that Abu Dhabi receives significantly less direct sunlight than expected due to high levels of atmospheric dust and humidity. The Masdar Solar Hub will allow Masdar Institute, Masdar and leading organizations in solar power to advance demonstration-scale solar technology assessment in the region’s hot, dust-filled environment.

Masdar points out that it is establishing the new hub at a time of increasing global interest in solar energy generation and falling costs: The price of solar electricity has declined by 75% over the past seven years and this year global solar PV capacity alone is expected to grow by 25%.