Dubai began operating the first in a series of solar power stations it plans as part of a push to diversify energy supplies in the United Arab Emirates, an OPEC member nation holding about 6 percent of global oil reserves.
The 13-megawatt photovoltaic plant is the biggest of its type in the Middle East and North Africa,Saeed Al Tayer, the head of Dubai’s state utility, said today at an inauguration ceremony in a desert inland from the Persian Gulf. First Solar Inc., the biggest U.S. solar-panel manufacturer, built the facility.
“This is the first part of Dubai’s plan to develop a solar park with 1000 megawatts of power by 2030,” said Al Tayer, chief executive officer of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.
DEWA is seeking to reduce its use of natural gas as a fuel for power stations while boosting generating capacity to meet a 5 percent annual growth in electricity demand in Dubai, the U.A.E.’s second-largest sheikhdom. The government-owned utility plans to hire private companies to develop and run a 100-megawatt solar power plant as it expands further into renewable energy, Al Tayer said.
Dubai is targeting by 2030 to generate 5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and 12 percent from coal, while buying an additional 12 percent of its power from nuclear reactors planned in neighboring Abu Dhabi. The remaining 71 percent will come from gas, according to a 2011 plan.
The U.A.E. is the fourth-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, with Abu Dhabi holding most of its crude reserves.
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