The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) opened a new solar R&D center this week at the massive 5 GW Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The facility, which spans 4,400 square meters, is the biggest solar testing and certification facility in the United Arab Emirates.
DEWA claims that the new R&D center is the largest, most comprehensive solar testing and certification facility in the UAE. It is also the only facility of its kind in the country that focuses on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart grids, it said. In addition, the facility will look at so-called “fourth industrial revolution” technologies such as 3-D printing, according to a statement on the company’s website.
The new R&D hub includes a number of indoor and outdoor testing labs to study the performance and reliability of PV modules. The indoor facilities include an electrical characterization lab, a materials characterization facility, a solar simulator, and an accelerated aging lab.
DEWA has accumulated a great deal of experience with the operation of solar panels in harsh desert climate conditions. It aims to build on this track record at the new R&D facility, with outdoor labs to test different PV module technologies and performance. The outdoor portion of the R&D center also includes a safe zone for drone testing.
Emiratis will account for about 70% of the people who will work at the new R&D center. The research team has already published more than 40 research papers and has one patent under its belt, with five more now under review, DEWA claimed.
In June, DEWA launched a tender for the fifth 900 MW phase of the 5 GW Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The first section of this part of the project is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2021.
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